Magazine article Canadian Dimension


Magazine article Canadian Dimension


Article excerpt

Why the Peace Movement Stalled

Re: "The Long March of the Canadian Peace Movement," CD, May June, 2008:

Indeed, it has been a long march, but we are not much closer to our goals. It is therefore important to openly debate why. To do so it behooves us to be accurate in our own research, to take into account the available facts, and not to lace these with false interpretations that are presented as history. David Langille's article distorts the history of the Canadian peace movement.


The nuclear disarmament movement was founded in Montreal in November, 1959, with the establishment of the Combined Universities Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CUCND). I am referring specifically to the nuclear disarmament movement, in the form of the movements/ campaigns founded by Bertrand Russell, Benjamin Spock and such well-known persons.

It is therefore incorrect to say, as does Langille when describing the sixties, "The early peace movement depended upon leadership from the Canadian churches." There was no churchman in sight until much later into the sixties. The leadership, organizationally and politically, came from university students on campuses from Memorial to the University of Victoria. CUCND helped transform the Canadian Committee for the Control of Radiation Hazards (CCCRH). founded by Mary Van Stolk in 1959 in Edmonton. It was transformed into the Canadian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament by 1961-62.

The first chair of the CCCRH was Dr. Hugh Keenleyside, former head of the Canadian-American Joint Defence Board from 1950-51, who held other senior public service positions. Among the public figures associated with the movement to prevent Canada from acquiring nuclear weapons for the Bomarc B missiles in North Bay, Ontario and La Macaza, Quebec were U of T President Claude Bissell, author Hugh MacLennan, photographer Yousuf Karsh, actor John Drainie and many other public personalities. These supporters were not members of the cloth.

It was only much later that the Rev. James Thomson, former moderator of the United Church of Canada, briefly succeeded Keenleyside, and in turn he was succeeded by Honourable Justice J.T. Thorson, former head of the Exchequer Court of Canada.

It was this ensemble composing a combined movement, later joined by the enduring Voice of Women, which mounted the most important peace movement in this country's history. The Diefenbaker cabinet was split wide open, with the external affairs minister, Howard Green, openly siding with us, and the defence minister, Douglas Harkness, vehemently propagating nuclear weapons.

If one reviews the media attention in favour of the campaign (another sign of its clout) from the magazine Saturday Night to the Globe & Mail and the Toronto Star, we can note that one after another the mass media supported the proposed ban. …

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