Home National Astonishing’: Justin Trudeau criticized for not congratulating Nobel Peace Prize winners, keeping Canada out of nuclear treaty

Astonishing’: Justin Trudeau criticized for not congratulating Nobel Peace Prize winners, keeping Canada out of nuclear treaty

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Canada abstained from joining nuclear disarmament talks that resulted in a draft ban treaty being adopted by 122 countries.

The latest winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are urging Justin Trudeau to take on an international leadership role, but they haven’t even gotten a congrats.

This is “astonishing,” according to New Democrat foreign affairs critic Hélène Laverdière.

Canada abstained from joining nuclear disarmament talks that in July resulted in a draft ban treaty being adopted by 122 countries, though nuclear powers themselves — including the United States, upon which Canada heavily relies — turned a blind eye.

In December, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is set to accept a Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts towards that goal, alongside Canadian campaigner Setsuko Thurlow, an Order of Canada recipient who survived the 1945 atomic bomb in Hiroshima when she was 13 years old.

“Perhaps now that a Canadian is accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons, the Trudeau government will wake up to the reality of this global threat to humanity, and join the Nuclear Ban Treaty,” Laverdière said in a statement.

“The Liberals cannot continue to pretend they believe in nuclear disarmament so long as they stay outside of this treaty, and they cannot pretend to celebrate Canadian achievement on the international stage so long as they do not congratulate ICAN on their Nobel Peace Prize.”

Thurlow said in an ICAN release she’s “dismayed and heartbroken” at the Canadian prime minister’s apparent dismissal of the treaty.

In June, as New Democrats were trying to rally support around the nuclear talks, the prime minister defended his government’s decision not to sit at the nuclear disarmament table by qualifying the negotiations as “sort of useless.”

“There can be all sorts of people talking about nuclear disarmament, but if they do not actually have nuclear arms, it is sort of useless to have them around, talking,” Trudeau said during question period. “It is well-meaning, as the NDP often are, but we are actually taking real, tangible, concrete steps that are going to make a difference in moving towards a nuclear-free world.”

“Such callous language to describe the prohibition of the most horrific weapons humankind has ever known,” responded Thurlow in the statement. “The prime minister seems to wilfully ignore the fact that the majority of Canadians want a world without nuclear weapons.”

In a statement to the Post, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland’s press secretary, Adam Austen, insisted “Canada remains firmly committed to concrete steps towards global nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.”

Canada played a leading role in passing a United Nations resolution calling for a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, Austen said. Canadians also chair a UN High Level group on the development of such a treaty. “Crucially, these talks involve both nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, and will continue to do so,” Austen said.

Canada is missing an opportunity for international leadership, however, said Ray Acheson, a Canadian who leads a disarmament program within the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. A treaty serves to increase the overall stigma of nuclear weaponry, she explained.

“There’s definitely room for Canada to change its mind and even be a leader in this process,” she said. “They can certainly lead the way in terms of NATO states, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries breaking away from this idea that nuclear weapons are necessary for the alliance’s security.”

Many Canadian allies have at least acknowledged ICAN’s peace prize, such as the Irish president, the Japanese and French foreign ministries and 23 countries (or groups of countries) that offered congrats at the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, including Sweden, New Zealand, Mexico and others.

But Trudeau has ignored the Nobel Prize win. Asked to clarify whether he wanted to extend any congratulations, the prime minister’s office didn’t respond.

“Anything that is putting the spotlight on Canada not living up to its history and its principles and its stated goal of peace and security in the world must be embarrassing for them,” Acheson said, noting the prime minister’s father had a legacy of promoting nuclear disarmament while he was in power.

“It’s sad, actually. I think that it’s part of Canada’s legacy that is being undermined by the current administration’s policies. … I believe that the current administration has the mandate to rekindle those principles and to live up to them.”

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