Canadians affirm support for nuclear weapon ban

A Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was passed by the UN Jan. 22. Canada has not yet signed. (Pixabay stock image)

Vast majority want their country to sign UN weapons treaty

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Three-quarters of Canadians say their country should sign the United Nations nuclear weapons ban treaty even if the United States and NATO oppose it.

The national Nanos Research Group survey on behalf of Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition found 55 per cent of Canadians strongly in favour of signing and ratifying the treaty and another 19 per cent who “somewhat support” it.

The survey also found less than 10 per cent of the country believes it is acceptable for any country to possess nuclear arms.

The Nanos poll was released the same day the semi-official Vatican newspaper, La Civilta Cattolica, published an April 1 article praising the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an effective instrument of international law since it came into force Jan. 22 after ratification by 50 countries.

Jesuit ethicist and international affairs expert Fr. Drew Christiansen argues that widespread, international support for the new treaty may force nuclear weapons’ states to make substantial progress at the next Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty talks scheduled for August.

“The conference next August in New York represents a fundamental moment. States will also have to show their willingness to build together the future of nuclear disarmament and novel structures of global governance, going beyond the NPT,” Christiansen argues.

Canada has stood by its NATO allies in rejecting the popular treaty. In 2017 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in line with other NATO leaders, refused to send a Canadian representatives to the UN conference that negotiated the terms of the nuclear weapons ban treaty.

Two-thirds of the world’s nations were represented.

“Substantive progress on non-proliferation and disarmament can only come via initiatives that engage all states, including those which possess nuclear weapons,” Global Affairs spokesperson Grantly Franklin said in an e-mail to The Catholic Register in January.

Four out of five Canadians surveyed by Nanos say Canada should work to eliminate nuclear weapons globally. The strong support for disarmament corresponds to a widespread conviction that any nuclear weapons use would be catastrophic.

“Over eight in 10 Canadians agree (58 per cent) or somewhat agree (28 per cent) that no government, health system or aid organization could respond to the devastation caused by nuclear weapons and they need to be eliminated,” said the Nanos report.

“Canada has long been an important player in global nuclear disarmament and remains committed to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons,” said Franklin.

Pope Francis has announced his intention to amend the Catechism of the Catholic Church to explicitly define possession of nuclear weapons as a moral evil.

“The use of nuclear weapons is immoral, which is why it must be added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Not only their use, but also possessing them: because an accident or the madness of some government leader, one person’s madness can destroy humanity,” Pope Francis told reporters as he flew home from Hiroshima in 2019.

Canadians also don’t want their money invested in companies that help produce nuclear weapons. Almost half (49 per cent) agree and another 22 per cent somewhat agree they would pull their money out of any financial institution if they found out it was investing in the nuclear arms industry.

The survey of 1,007 adults was conducted both by phone and online between March 27 and March 30. Nanos gives the margin of error at plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.