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June 7th, 2017

Why are Liberals walking away from nuclear disarmament?

The NDP will force a vote in Parliament next week to test the Liberal government’s commitment to nuclear disarmament in light of Canada’s vote against UN talks. NDP Foreign Affairs critic, Hélène Laverdière, is proposing a motion calling on the Liberals to commit to attending future meetings of the United Nations conference to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. With the second round of negotiations beginning next week, the debate in Parliament is timely.

“Nuclear disarmament is not only possible, but necessary, now more than ever," said Laverdière. "I have repeatedly asked this government why they are refusing to participate in drafting the UN convention on banning nuclear weapons. Canada should be leading the charge on nuclear disarmament, and instead, this government is nowhere to be found.”

The Liberal government voted against a UN proposal to negotiate an agreement aimed at banning nuclear weapons and refused to participate in the March round of UN talks. Canada’s absence from these talks on nuclear disarmament runs counter to a resolution adopted by Liberal party members just last year, calling on the government to launch a process to ban nuclear weapons.

“I was appalled that the Liberal boycott of negotiations for a nuclear disarmament convention meant that Canada would not be represented at the table,” added NDP MP Linda Duncan, who was present at the UN conference. “Testimony by people like Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow should be all this government needs to commit to being a true world leader and participate in future negotiations.”

Text of the motion:
Ms. Laverdière (Laurier—Sainte-Marie) — That the House :

(a) recognize the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons, and recognize those consequences transcend national borders and pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security, and for the health of future generations;

(b) reaffirm the need to make every effort to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances;

(c) recall the unanimous vote in both Houses of Parliament in 2010 that called on Canada to participate in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention;

(d) reaffirm its support for the 2008 five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament of the former Secretary-General of the United Nations;

(e) express disappointment in Canada’s vote against, and absence from, initial rounds of negotiations for a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons; and

(f) call upon the government to support the Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, released on May 22, 2017, and to commit to attend, in good faith, future meetings of the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.