75 years since the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – we remember

In partnership with the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW), we are honoured to devote today’s Rideau Institute blog to this upcoming commemoration.

The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) — which includes the Rideau Institute as a proud member — was established in 1996 by representatives of national organizations that share the conviction that nuclear weapons are immoral and should be abolished. We believe that Canada should lead in working for their early abolition.

August 6th and 9th will mark 75 years since atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 people.

The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) will host a virtual event on August 6th from 2:00 to 3:30 pm Eastern to honour the victims of this unspeakable act, and to consider new action to help rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Featured speakers include:

Ms. Setsuko Thurlow, O.C. – who, as a 13-year-old girl survived the bombing of Hiroshima and became a lifelong activist for nuclear abolition. In 2017, Ms. Thurlow, with Ms. Beatrice Fihn, co-accepted the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for its work in advancing negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;

The Honourable Douglas Roche, O.C. – former Senator, Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament and, among many other roles, founding Chair of the CNANW; and

Ms. Peggy Mason, former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament and current President of the Rideau Institute.

For the full list of engaging and deeply knowledgeable speakers, click here.

Virtual panel discussion on the way forward

Moderated by CNANW Chair Earl Turcotte, following brief presentations, there will be virtual discussion on the way forward toward a nuclear weapons free world.  The event will end with a ceremonial ringing of a bell 75 times to mark each year since the bombs were dropped.

For free registration to this Zoom webinar, please click here.

In the words of the CNANW Steering Committee:

We hope that you join us on this solemn anniversary. Expect to leave inspired and more determined than ever to relegate nuclear weapons to the dustbin of history!

For a list of the many CNANW Member Groups (including the Rideau Institute) click here.

Historic CNANW Call to Action delivered to Prime Minister Trudeau on 31 July 2020

In the lead up to the 6 August commemorations, CNANW today delivered an historic Call to Action on Nuclear Disarmament to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It urges the Government of Canada to:

    • ANNOUNCE at the United Nations General Assembly in September that nuclear disarmament will become one of Canada’s highest priorities,
    • CHALLENGE the nuclear security doctrine within NATO and
    • PRESS all nuclear armed states to either become party to the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons endorsed by 122 nations, or to negotiate a new Nuclear Weapons Convention that will achieve the same ultimate result — the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

The CNANW ends its Call to Action by urging the Government of Canada to:

Adopt and promote throughout the world a new paradigm of national security based upon the principle of sustainable common security for all states and all peoples.

Another nuclear event could occur at any time. We must do everything within our collective power to rid the world of this existential threat and to preserve our planet for succeeding generations.

Call to Action for all Canadians

In the press release accompanying the Call to Action, CNANW invites all concerned Canadians to inform the Prime Minister and their Member of Parliament that they support this Call to Action on Nuclear Disarmament and wish their Government to do everything possible to address this existential threat to humanity and preserve our planet for succeeding generations.

All those wishing to join with Ceasefire.ca in supporting this call, please send an email to pmason@rideauinstitute.ca and we will add your name to our follow-up letter to the Prime Minister.

For the full text of the CNANW Call to Action and the accompanying press release, click here and here respectively.

Registration link for webinar commemoration

We include again here the registration link to the free Zoom webinar of CNANW’s commemoration on 6 August 2020, from 2:00 to 3:30 pm Eastern, of the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings.

Statements by the NDP and by the Green Party to commemorate the 75th anniversary

Both the NDP and the Green Party of Canada issued statements in remembrance of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear attacks.

NDP Foreign Affairs critic Jack Harris commented on Canada’s failure, in recent years, to live up to its once-proud tradition of arms control advocacy:

Not so long ago, Canada played a role in global disarmament, however in recent years under both Conservative and Liberal governments that role has diminished. With global insecurity on the rise, it is more important than ever that Canada actively support international efforts to promote nuclear disarmament.

Elizabeth May, current Parliamentary Leader of the Green Party of Canada, voiced her deep disappointment in the failure of Canada to sign the landmark 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW):

The Green Party of Canada is the only political party with a commitment to developing a culture of peace and non-violence. It is one of our six core  Green values…. How can we purport to be a country of peacekeepers when we refuse to stand with the international community in calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons?

For the full NDP statement click here, and for the full Green Party statement, click here.

The City of Ottawa has also issued a Proclamation for Hiroshima Day and Nagasaki Day. We are also honoured to include the Peace Declaration of the City of Hiroshima, including these words from Mayor Matsui Kazumi:

As the only nation to suffer a nuclear attack, Japan must persuade the global public to unite with the spirit of Hiroshima.

Whither Canada?

In the covering note to Prime Minister Trudeau, CNANW Chair Earl Turcotte writes:

Prime Minister, we know that you and your colleagues are deeply concerned about [nuclear dangers] and we applaud Canada’s engagement in many fora and  processes, including the recent Swedish- led, Stockholm Initiative that seeks to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

But with respect, there is so much more that Canada could  be doing, given our history, resources and privileged position in the world.

We call on the Government of Canada to take the solemn occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings as a fitting time to begin to re-establish a leadership role for Canada on nuclear disarmament.

UPDATE 1 August 2020

In a Globe and Mail commentary published on 1 August 2020, former Disarmament Ambassador Douglas Roche wrote:

Seventy-five years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we have to ask ourselves: Is the long-sought goal of the abolition of nuclear weapons but a dream?  This is a question that haunts me.

After canvassing the main obstacles to progress and the positive role that Canada could play, should we make abolition a priority, Mr. Roche concludes:

The hibakusha [survivors] have never given up their call for abolition. And neither will I.

For those without a Globe and Mail subscription, the full article is available here.

And for a Canadian connection to the 1945 nuclear bombings that continues to haunt the indigenous peoples of Délı̨nę, see: Spectre of atomic bomb still looms over N.W.T. community 75 years after Hiroshima (Katie Toth, cbc.ca) 5 Aug 2020.

Photo credit: Wikimedia (Atomic bomb testing)

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