This account is a summary of the highlights of the meeting. The full minutes can be obtained from the Science for Peace office.
On Saturday, May 23 about 25 members of Science for Peace gathered at Wilson Hall, New College, University of Toronto for the 2009 AGM. President Judith Deutsch presided.
She thanked the members who had actively participated in Science for Peace over the last year. The issues in 2008-9 included climate change and social justice, which are interconnected. She also pointed out the corruption of research in universities and the onslaught on knowledge in academia. She reviewed our involvement with other groups on issues such as water, mining, Omar Khadr and Bhopal. She referred to the impact of our present economic system and the fact that we ought to be moving to a no-growth economic model. We had made a presentation to the Standing Commettee on Science, Technology and Industry. She pointed out the dangers of the entrenched structure of large multinational corporations.
A general discussion followed on getting new members, reactivating former members and sending information to students and the Graduate Student Union about SfP and our activities. A Human Rights Working Group has been proposed at a Board meeting this year.
Reports from Committee Chairs and Members Global Issues Project
Global Issues Project — Derek Paul
The Global Issues Project recorded another year of progress, having sponsored a roundtable on fresh water in November 2008. The committee, which numbers eleven, is the same as it was at the time of the last Annual General meeting of Science for Peace, though the advisory group has grown, and now includes Danny Harvey and Dick Peltier, both of them authors of IPCC documents, and Ken MacKay, formerly a GIP committee member, and also now serving on the population committee of the GIP. Recent additions to this list include Professor Colin Soskolne, professor of epidemiology and senior editor of Sustaining life on Earth. On the committee itself, while no new permanent members have been added, a host of new faces have appeared, some regular at our meetings and the others occasional, several participating on the planning committees.
The project is now progressing on two fronts, having set up planning committees on population and on “no growth.” The latter arises from the often stated impossibility of indefinitely continuing increases in economic output and human population, and was triggered by the timely appearance of Peter Victor’s book last November: “Managing without Growth: Slower by Design, not Disaster.” At the same time, the population committee is starting to include food and agriculture in its deliberations.
Our brochure invites all and sundry to get in touch with either of our contact people. In addition to not refusing anyone’s participation at our meetings, we have taken the trouble to invite specific people from time to time. The trend is upward in these numbers, and it is obvious that it must be so. The number of crucial issues is large (sixteen, depending on how one lists them), and ideally one should be able to handle them all simultaneously, but this will require a much larger committee than we now have.
The 2008 Roundtable on Freshwater was particularly successful, in that the twenty-odd water experts were essentially in agreement on all the immense gamut of technical matters discussed, which ranged far beyond Canada’s borders. In addition, Oliver Brandes (professor at University of Victoria) put together a statement of policy suitable for any Canadian government, based upon the findings of the first day of the Roundtable, and this statement was discussed on the second day and edited into a “Declaration on Freshwater,” which has now been translated into French. It is important that the Declaration was unanimous, that is, all expert members of the Roundtable and all the GIP committee members present signed on to the Declaration.
The Declaration of Freshwater is a document SfP should be very proud of. Though highly technical, it contains within its tightly phrased two pages, comprehensive policy for every level of government on water issues within Canada, and has the potential to be applied elsewhere as well. Furthermore, it should stand the test of time. Currently it has been circulated to all federal MPs and many Ontario MPPs. The Roundtable on Freshwater also gave rise to an op-ed article and has led to more publicity and another op-ed article since last year. A measure of the success of the roundtable is that the water experts have stayed with us; that is, they still communicate and contribute to the follow-up.
The full report is available from the SfP office.
Media Working Group — Rose Dyson
The Media Working Group aims to bring together a variety of expert and influential people who are concerned about how the media impact on SfP objectives of peace, human rights, justice and the creation of an environmentally sustainable future for all peoples. The media have an enormous influence on the attainment of these goals as “action-filled thematic ,ethods of communication and amusement are accelerating trends toward a culture of violence directly at odds with justice, peace and environmental sustainability. Rose has had many chapters and articles in publications and founded C-CAVE (Canadians Concerned About Violence in Entertainment).
Reports from Members
Paul York reported on two conferences held at the University of Toronto on Climate Change and on Mining. He noted some federal legislation involving economic sanctions for mining companies who violate human rights in countries where they operate and rewriting of the Ontario Mining Act.
Peter Basedow reported on a meeting with the head of the Office of Energy Sustainability at the University of Toronto without effect on present policy. It is hoped to establish an umbrella student organization for environmental groups at the university. Similar activity at the University of Guelph hopes to propose a resolution to the Senate on carbon reduction.
Phyllis Creighton reported on her work with Amnesty International on SfP letterhead especially on capital punishment. She wrote to President Obama about Omar Khadr. She is the SfP representative for the Hiroshima Day organization and the Canadian Network for Nuclear Abolition. She helped organize another successful commemoration at City Hall this year.
Metta Spencer is organizing an event “Zero Nuclear Weapons – A Forum”. Metta Spencer (Read more)
Mines Action — Margaret Back
SfP is a member of the Mines Action Canada Coalition. Ten countries have met the deadline for removal of land mines. Canada is a major donor.
A major success this past year internationally has been the achievement of a comprehensive ban on cluster bombs. To date 96 states have signed and 7 have ratified this treaty.
Nominating Committee Report — Brydon Gombay
The following have agreed to stand as Officers: Judy Deutsch — President Margrit Eichler — Secretary Chandler Davis — Treasurer
Life Members: Terrel Gardner, Helmut Burkhardt, Hanna Newcombe
24 directors were renewed for 2009-2011.
Wendy Devine and Hershel Stroyman have resigned. Hershel was a longtime valued member. Wendy’s service as Treasurer from 2007-8 is particularily appreciated.
The new directors are: Karl Brozowski, Michael Keefer, Blair Kuntz, Zannah Mae Matson, Lynn MacDonald, Dieter Misgeld, Diana Moser, and Jim Deutsch.
The office of Executive Vice-President needs to be filled, and we need a Membership Secretary.
Treasurer’s Report — Derek Paul
The Board agreed to deficit financing although Derek stated it is not his preference.
Including all our accounts SfP currently has almost $50,000 at its disposal but this will disappear in less than five years without major fundraising.
A fundraiser whom Derek consulted said that this is not a good time for major fundraisng — we should wait until next year. Derek asked the members of SfP to try to get their minds around these facts.
We need to replace the older generation of scholars with younger people. He recommended that the highest priority in the coming months be devoted to retaining the current membership, to obtaining the fees due from members, and to consider raising the fees at the next Annual General Meeting which have not been raised in many years. And, of course, increasing our membership.
Peter Westra, our accountant (and Board member) presented a balance sheet for the calendar year 2008, which was accepted by the members present.
The Franz Blumenfeld Fund
Currently the capital stands at $50,000 and there is an account of $3,981 for making awards. The Blumenfeld Fund is guided by two committees, of two people each: the President and Treasurer of SfP for financial matters (investing and fundraising) and setting the rules for the second committee which deals with the awards. This committee consists of Frank Cunningham and Julia Morton-Marr. Two awards were made since the last AGM: $800 for the Department of Peace initiatives and $500 for the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace.
Analysis of donations to Science for Peace in 2008:
Members: $17,632.74 Non-members: $6576.00 Total: $24,208.74. Average per member: $104.84 Earmarked for the Global Issues Project: $2,565 from members and $6,500 from non-members. Earmarked for general purposes: $15,143.74