The Freedom from War Coalition, which brings together peace and anti-war activists from the Nanaimo and Duncan area of Vancouver Island, has launched a parliamentary petition calling on the government to take a stand against nuclear weapons.
Specifically, the coalition wants Ottawa to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and to urge allies and other countries to follow suit.
The TPNW, which is also known as the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, is the first legally binding international agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons. Its ultimate goal is the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
For states that are party to it, the treaty prohibits development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. It also prohibits states parties from assisting or encouraging those same activities. The treaty provides nuclear armed states which join it with a framework leading to the elimination of its nuclear weapons program.
The TPNW was adopted and opened for signature by the UN in 2017, and it entered into force in January 2021. Currently, more than 90 countries are signatories to the treaty. Canada has neither signed nor ratified the TPNW and did not even vote on the treaty’s adoption by the UN in 2017.
None of the nuclear-armed countries supports the ban treaty, although the DPRK (“North Korea”) voted in favour of initiating ban negotiations and was the only nuclear-armed state to do so. Similarly, non-nuclear-armed countries in NATO, including Canada, have expressed resistance to the ban treaty. Since 2018, the Canadian government has repeatedly voted against an annual UN General Assembly resolution which calls upon all states to sign and ratify the TPNW.
Peace and anti-war activists have long been frustrated at the Canadian government’s inaction and even opposition to a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Out of this frustration, the Freedom from War Coalition launched its petition campaign, securing the sponsorship of Lisa Marie Barron, NDP MP for the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding.
The petition notes that, 78 years after their first use against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the peoples of the world remain under constant threat of devastation from nuclear weapons. While the Canadian government has stated that it is “committed to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons” and is a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Canada can and must do more to directly address the complete elimination and prohibition of nuclear weapons.
The Freedom from War Coalition argues that, as a member of the UN Conference on Disarmament and the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament, Canada “has an obligation to promote internationally the elimination of nuclear weapons.” Furthermore, the coalition points out that “as a non-nuclear state, Canada is in a best position to comply with the articles of the TPNW and to guide its allies and other nations toward a world free from nuclear weapons.”
The petition can be accessed here. It is available for signature until January 5, 2024.
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