The Time for Nuclear Disarmament is Now

In March, the UN General Assembly began to negotiate a treaty to effectively eliminate all nuclear weapons and call for the recognition of the rights and needs of nuclear survivors. The negotiations were approved by a strong majority of countries, but Canada and most of our NATO allies voted against them and are now boycotting further negotiations altogether. It is clear that this does not reflect the will of Canadians, but rather a government relenting to the pressure of an overbearing American President who has promised to increase America's nuclear arsenal.

Where in the past, Canada has been a global leader for weapon reform; we are now ‎embracing the position of a nuclear hawk. Canada played a pivotal role in the Land Mine Ban Treaty in 1997 and in 2010, the House of Commons unanimously recognized the danger posed by nuclear weapons vowing to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention. Now the same government members that touted disarmament and international leadership have boycotted the March negotiations.

That decision also ensures that we will abstain from the second round of negotiations this summer. New Democrats are determined to press the Liberal government to change direction and participate in negotiations so Canada can reclaim its place among international disarmament leaders

On June 7th, the Government was given an opportunity to take an important step towards nuclear disarmament when New Democrats tabled a motion re-affirming Canada's commitment to reducing the nuclear threat. This came on the heels of an NDP hosted panel on the UN Negotiations for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Nuclear disarmament is not only possible, but is needed now more than ever. People understand the catastrophic consequences that would occur if nuclear weapons are used; we must avoid another Hiroshima. We must also recognize and legally identify the rights of nuclear victims and create international laws to protect them.

Canadians should be disappointed by the government’s boycott of the UN’s Draft Convention. There will never be a perfect time for negotiations, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to do what is right.

Progress is often a part of a lengthy and divisive process, but given the modernization of nuclear arsenals and heightened tensions between superpowers, procrastination only puts us at greater risk. That's why Canada needs to be a leader, calling on nuclear powers to recognize that these weapons can serve no legitimate purpose. Their indiscriminate nature and potential to annihilate humanity means that we cannot back down from our fight for nuclear disarmament.