Groups urge Canada to join Norway at UN Nuclear Ban conference
Over a dozen leading peace groups are urging Canada to reconsider its stead-fast opposition to the landmark UN Nuclear Ban Treaty, officially called the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
In a joint letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, the groups said, “This month the Government of Norway announced that it will attend the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna (22-24 March 2022) as an Observer. This is welcome news and an indication that, within NATO, States in support of the abolition of nuclear weapons can work together towards that goal whether or not they are signatories to the TPNW.
“The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) encourages Canada to also commit, as Norway has done, to attending the TPNW States parties meeting as an Observer. Our government can make an early and clear statement to this effect and encourage other NATO members to also attend. CNANW supports Canada acceding to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons or to a new comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention that will achieve the same stated goal: the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”
The government has argued that Canada’s membership in NATO, the nuclear-armed military alliance forged at the end of the Second World War in 1945, prohibits it from joining the nuclear disarmament treaty. “The Treaty’s provisions are inconsistent with Canada’s collective defense obligations as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO),” wrote Rob Oliphant, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in April 2021.
Peace groups disagree with government
“Canada is able to sign and ratify the TPNW while a member of NATO as long as our government disassociates Canada from NATO’s existing nuclear deterrence doctrine. As recommended unanimously by the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence in its 2018 report, Canada can take ‘a leadership role within NATO in beginning the work necessary for achieving the NATO goal of ‘creating the conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons,’” peace groups say.
In response to the CNANW’s letter, the Prime Minister’s office punted the issue to its newly appointed Cabinet ministers; Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly and Minister of National Defence Anita Anand. “While the Prime Minister appreciates being made aware of your letter, he will leave the matter you raise to be considered by the Ministers. Once again, thank you for writing to the Prime Minister,” responded the Prime Minister’s Office.
(Cover: Melanie Joly in 2015)