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e-3028 (Foreign affairs)

Initiated by Nancy Covington from Halifax, Nova Scotia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • A nuclear weapons detonation could result in a humanitarian catastrophe so immense that it is impossible to comprehend. The direct effects would be far worse than any pandemic as there is no known meaningful medical response. A nuclear winter could be triggered causing widespread famine throughout the world;
  • A recent surge in modernization of nuclear weapons means the risk of an accidental or intentional nuclear catastrophe has increased markedly since the Cold War era;
  • The money and resources spent on nuclear weapons could be redirected to address the unsolved issues facing humankind, such as climate change, poverty or pandemics;
  • Nuclear weapons, designed to kill vast numbers of people indiscriminately, have always been immoral. On January 22, 2021 nuclear weapons will also become illegal under international law for countries that have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a Treaty whose text has been endorsed by 122 nations;
  • The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is the best current option for nuclear weapons disarmament; and
  • This Treaty is considered robust in terms of its provisions for implementing the process of abolishing nuclear weapons and is therefore complementary to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is a major achievement of international diplomacy;
We, the undersigned, Citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to accede to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons thereby advancing Canada’s longstanding commitment to global nuclear disarmament.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

Canada acknowledges the widespread frustration with the pace of global efforts toward nuclear disarmament, which clearly motivated the negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). While Canada is seized of and shares these well-founded concerns, it does not support the TPNW, as the Treaty does not contain credible provisions for monitoring and verification, which are necessary for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the Treaty’s provisions are inconsistent with Canada’s collective defense obligations as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Canada is committed to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, and maintains that progress toward nuclear disarmament is more effectively pursued through a pragmatic step by step approach that takes into account the security considerations of all states. That is why Canada works as a bridge-builder among states to reinforce the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the cornerstone of global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. This approach aims to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, reduce existing stockpiles, and, ultimately, eliminate these weapons in a manner that is verifiable and irreversible. While this approach will take time, it is better able to build the trust and confidence required to make actual progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

Canada has been a leader in contributing to the development of the global architecture for non-proliferation and disarmament. Canada is focusing its efforts on initiatives that unite nuclear and non-nuclear armed states such as commencing negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, pushing for the entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, supporting initiatives to build global capacity for nuclear disarmament verification, and advancing a more inclusive approach to disarmament and non-proliferation, including the full and equal participation of women and engagement of youth. In addition, Canada welcomed the recent extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) between the United States and Russia and continues to advocate strongly for the expansion of arms control. Canada is also an active member of coalitions of non-nuclear weapon states, like the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative and the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament.

Canada has long been, and remains, an important player in global nuclear disarmament and remains deeply committed to achieving the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. Canada will continue to make concrete efforts toward nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Open for signature
December 8, 2020, at 2:05 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
February 6, 2021, at 2:05 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
February 16, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00500)
Government response tabled
April 12, 2021
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia