The Sierra Club (both in the U.S. and Canada) is part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
ICAN members celebrated when the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force last year, having been ratified by 50 countries. Canada not being one of them. The Treaty makes it illegal for United Nations member states to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.
Canada, as a NATO member, appears to be subservient to the U.S. in supporting the retention and potential use of nuclear weapons. In 2016, the U.S. sent NATO members a letter urging them to vote against the UN General Assembly resolution that established the formal mandate for states to commence negotiations on the Treaty.
Canada voted against the UN resolution, has not signed or ratified the Treaty, and did not attend the June 2022 first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty — despite receiving an invitation from the UN Secretary General to attend as an observer.
Canadian cities, the likely targets of any future nuclear war, have been much more willing to take action against nuclear war and nuclear weapons than Canada’s Federal Government. Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Victoria, and most recently, Ottawa, together with many smaller Canadian cities, have all joined the ICAN Cities Appeal, calling on the Federal Government to ratify the Treaty.
The City of Ottawa’s resolution, which passed unanimously on June 8, 2022, notes that the long-term health and environmental consequences of nuclear war include "severe climate disruption, mass fire, and radioactive fallout which can lead to global famine and, in the most extreme case, human extinction.” It further notes that “today’s nuclear arsenals contain weapons that are 1000 times more powerful than the ones that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
It’s time for the Government of Canada to stop ignoring its own citizens and other nations, and join the global effort to rid the world of the scourge of nuclear weapons.
If you want your community to make a similar commitment as Ottawa, please refer to the ICAN Cities Appeal and follow their advice on how to proceed:
1. Get inspired: dive into the stories behind the latest cities taking the ICAN Cities Appeal
2. Do your research: How does decision-making work in your city? Are there similar initiatives? Has your city spoken out on nuclear disarmament already? Is your city a member of Mayors for Peace?
3. Find your allies: get in touch with other ICAN partners and reach out your local elected official to put the item on the legislative agenda.
4. Get social: share why you love your city or cheer on the cities taking action.