Vancouver WBW Pursues Divestment and Nuclear Abolition

By World BEYOND War, December 8, 2020

The Vancouver, Canada, chapter of World BEYOND War is advocating for divestment from weapons and fossil fuels in Langley, British Columbia, (something World BEYOND War has had success with in other cities), as well as supporting a resolution on nuclear abolition in Langley, in light of the recent achievement of the 50th nation ratifying the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Brendan Martin and Marilyn Konstapel presented at the council for the City of Langley on November 2 and the council for the Township of Langley on November 9th urging divestment from weapons and fossil fuels. The presentations used variations on this Powerpoint, also available as a PDF.

The chapter applauds Langley City Council for subsequently passing a resolution on Nov. 23 in support of the recently ratified UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The following letter to the editor from the chapter was published in BC Local News this weekend:

On behalf of Langley residents, we applaud Langley City council for passing a resolution on Nov. 23 in support of the recently ratified UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Council committed to support the Mayors for Peace Appeal and will write to the government of Canada calling on it “to break the unacceptable status quo regarding a tolerant nuclear weapons policy by taking decisive steps toward the global elimination of nuclear weapons of war.”

The resolution noted that:

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is a landmark global agreement calling for national and local governments to abandon nuclear weapons of war;

The TPNW global agreement was adopted in 2017, and the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has acknowledged this initiative as providing the best pathway towards a world without nuclear weapons;

  • Nuclear weapons threaten every nation’s security and would cause catastrophic humanitarian and environmental harm;
  • Cities are the main targets of nuclear weapons, municipalities have a special responsibility to their constituents to speak out against any role for nuclear weapons in national security doctrines;
  • Municipal governments form a close and active link with their constituents and local social movements;
  • A national awareness is needed to advance the standard determined by the TPNW against nuclear weapon states and their military alliances with countries that have nuclear weapons;
  • The time has come to end decades of deadlock in disarmament and moving the world towards the elimination of nuclear weapons;
  • There is no winner in an exchange of nuclear weapons.

Langley City council is to be commended for its encompassing vision of responsibility which includes the pursuit of peace. We thank Mayor van den Broek and Councillors Storteboom and Wallace for meeting with Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford during the summer to learn about the nuclear weapons treaty and for acting in the best interest of humanity.

We hope this action by Langley City council will inspire our community and other municipalities to speak for non-violence. Going forward now we should not allow the government of Canada to quietly purchase 15 warships at a cost of $70 billion dollars and 88 jet bombers at probably a similar lifecycle cost.

We must demand that government spend our money on public health and education, jobs that build rather than destroy and on other real needs of Canadians such as a just transition to renewable energy for those involved in the fossil fuel industries.

We want Canada to once again be known as a peacekeeper and to shift our tax dollors from the war economy to a green and just recovery for all.

Brendan Martin and Marilyn Konstapel,

World BEYOND War, Vancouver Chapter Members,

Langley

UPDATE FROM WORLD BEYOND WAR VANCOUVER:

In November 2020 Langley City Council committed to sign the Mayors Appeal for Peace endorsing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).  In October this UN treaty received the necessary 50th ratification by member states and it will have the force of international law on January 22, 2021. This is a big deal in the pursuit of making our world safe from the threat of nuclear annihilation. 

Langley City Council has also undertaken to write to the Government of Canada calling on it to change its policy which currently supports the use of nuclear weapons. Our government has not endorsed the TPNW but municipalities across Canada can play a vital role in pressuring it to do so in the name of peace and a sane policy on nuclear weapons.
 
World BEYOND War Vancouver Chapter used the following strategy to prepare Langley City Council to adopt the resolution on TPNW.
  • Langley members of World BEYOND War (WBW) met with two city councillors to discuss peace and disarmament. Getting to know our councillors and exploring peacebuilding changed from in-person discussions to virtual meetings and email exchanges with the onset of the pandemic.
  • It was enlightening to discover how approachable councillors are and how much they are committed to peace. Climate change is another issue which is also of great concern to city councillors and to World Beyond War. We worked to support council on this and we met with Climate Crisis Langley Action Partners on several occasions to promote the intimately connected causes of peace and fossil fuels divestment.
  • WBW invited Langley leaders to a virtual meeting with international oil economist John Foster, author of “Oil and World Politics: The Real Story of Today’s Conflict Zones”
  • Tamara Lorincz , director of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace was WBW’s guest speaker via zoom on the topic of Weapons & Climate Crisis. She spoke also about the No Fighter Jets Campaign.
  • Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford, Past Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War discussed by zoom the ICAN Cities Appeal. Some municipal leaders expressed appreciation for educating them on nuclear dangers and openly admitted to a pre-existing lack of awareness of critical facts.
  • We invited city councillors and our MLA to Bells for Peace on August 6 and 9 which commemorated the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Their attendance was an opportunity to strengthen our ties with local leaders.
  • Langley City Council received our virtual delegation, restricted to two persons because of COVID-19, on November 2, 2020. We were able to speak for ten minutes – though five minutes was the official time allowance. We briefly covered the ICAN Cities Appeal and divestment from weapons and fossil fuels. Council received our presentation very graciously and endorsed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the following Council meeting.
We thanked Council in the local papers and encouraged other municipalities to sign the ICAN Cities Appeal.

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