Connect with us


Canada's Cold War fallout shelters would have excluded most of us. These women had other plans –



It was the end of the world as they knew it and these women felt anything but fine.

The protesters had come from all over the Maritimes, wielding signs and body bags, wearing clown wigs and lab coats. On Feb. 29, 1984, a leap year, they stood chanting outside the gates of Camp Debert, home to Atlantic Canada’s only government fallout shelter designed to withstand a nuclear attack. 

On that day, an estimated 329 people were expected to go inside the Debert bunker to participate in a dress rehearsal for nuclear war. The spots inside were reserved solely for high-ranking government and military officials and even some members of the media — nearly all of whom would be men. 


And the women outside were incensed about who the government had been deemed worthy of protecting.

The women protesting that day, many of whom were linked to legendary Nova Scotia activist Muriel Duckworth and Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, first learned of the exercise from a small article published in The Chronicle Herald in July 1983.

A scan of a newspaper article in The Chronicle Herald. The headline of the article reads "Debert crucial in nuclear war"
A newspaper article in The Chronicle Herald published in the summer of 1983 galvanized a group of women to protest the government’s plan for contingency of government in the event of a nuclear attack. (The Chronicle Herald/Halifax Public Libraries)

They began planning a series of direct actions that would culminate on the day. The purpose was simple: to remind the people allowed inside the bunker that day of the cost of nuclear war.

“What happens to the families of those men who are going into the bunker?” asked Sue McManus, who was part of a group who had travelled from P.E.I. for the protest.

“How are they going to feel walking out of their homes, leaving their wives and their children behind, who are going to be detonated and incinerated, vaporized and radiated? It makes me angry. That’s why I’m here today.”

Protesters hold a sign that reads: How does it feel to pretend we're all dead and you're the only ones alive.
Protesters hold a sign criticizing those participating in Operation Boldstep, a military exercise designed to test out the government’s nuclear fallout bunkers. (CBC)

Many of the women dressed up as victims of radiation poisoning, their faces splotchy with burn marks, to illustrate the horrific aftermath of a nuclear attack. They carried the dead alongside with them in white body bags, making clear the toll an attack would take and the likelihood that few, if any, of the people outside would survive.

Five separate groups were participating, all with different but complementary ideas.

One group, composed solely of men, did all the cooking and handled the child care that day, while another, the group holding clipboards and wearing clown wigs and lab coats, posed as researchers proposing a different nuclear survival plan.

A group of women holding hands walk around the circle on a snowy day in Debert.
Pat Kipping, centre, holds hands with other protesters as they form a circle outside the Debert nuclear fallout shelter on Feb. 29, 1984. (Liz MacDougall)

That morning, activist Pat Kipping appeared on CBC Radio’s Morningside as her alter ego from that group, Dr. M. Mutandis of the Debunk Debert Research Associates.

On national radio, she proposed an alternative plan to the government’s official nuclear war fallout strategy, which had been titled the Continuity of Government program. Debunk Debert’s strategy was less concerned with the survival of male-dominated government, than with the survival of the human race.

“We suggest that the 329 places that are now reserved for aging male, military and government and media people, be replaced by 329 women of childbearing age and that the bunker also include a sperm repository,” Kipping told host Peter Gzowski.

Her group wasn’t being picky about what men would be eligible to donate, either. They just had a few minor prerequisites.

“No man who has had any authority or power in the society today would be eligible,” she said. “We’re afraid that we just can’t have that material continuing.”

One woman in a lab coat takes notes, while another rests her arms on a microscope, as a man, seen only from behind, stands still in the foreground,.
Liz Archibald-Calder, left, and Wilma Needham pose as scientists assessing an eligible sperm donor for their proposed Continuity of People program. (Bonnie Bonbryk)

This counter-proposal was pure satire, of course. But to many listening, it sounded much better than the government’s official plan.

“It’s something that only men could come up with, right?” said Kipping, speaking nearly 40 years after the protest.

“Because the whole idea that you can continue government without another generation … they really weren’t thinking … and that really drove us crazy. But it just triggered so many different approaches and so many different groups of women to come.”

‘Announcer of doom’

One person who was originally set to be in the bunker that day was Don Connolly, the former longtime host of CBC Radio’s Information Morning Nova Scotia.

Inside the shelter was a replica CBC Radio studio, designed to make sure those in government would be able to get their message out to the unlucky masses not invited into the bunker that day.

This is a black button. On it is the text Debunk Debert.
Buttons advertising the protest were made by some of the participants. (Pat Kipping)

Connolly was all set to become what he’d termed as the “announcer of doom.” Then a colleague, former CBC reporter Bette Cahill, called him one day and he had a change of heart.

“She said … ‘When the flag goes up, you’re going to leave Maureen and Molly and Kathleen at your place? You’re going to go to Debert, leave them, and say good luck with the nuclear attack?” Connolly recalled.

“I said, ‘no, of course I’m not going to do that.'”

A man walks outside the entrance to the Debert nuclear fallout bunker.
The entrance to the Debert nuclear fallout shelter, which was decommissioned in 1994. (CBC)

Lessons to be learned from protest

The protest continues to live on through a documentary made by filmmaker Liz MacDougall, called Debert Bunker: By Invitation Only.

Looking at the state of the world today, Kipping is well aware that the fight for peace, equality, and a future for our planet is still ongoing.

She thinks that future activists would do well to look at the example set by Debunk Debert as they confront our present-day fears for the end of the world.

“I think it’s really important to challenge authority,” said Kipping. “I think creative activism is important. I think a sense of humour is really important, if only for the people who are doing the actions to keep their spirits up so they can keep being active.”

And though it took another decade, in the end, the activists involved with Debunk Debert got their wish.

In 1994, with the end of the Cold War, the federal government officially decommissioned Camp Debert. It was later sold and today hosts escape rooms and laser tag.

Information Morning – NS9:25Why a nuclear fallout drill at the Debert Diefenbunker sparked protests in 1984

Almost 40 years ago, military officials were set to carry out a large-scale nuclear disaster drill at fallout shelters across the country, including at Camp Debert in Nova Scotia. But a group of women had major concerns about the drill and who the government was prioritizing for protection. The CBC’s Andrew Sampson brings us this story.


Adblock test (Why?)


Source link

Continue Reading


Canadian Navy offers ‘no strings attached’ program amid recruitment woes



The Royal Canadian Navy is offering a one-year trial period for Canadians to join with “no strings attached” as it faces a major recruitment challenge and unprecedented personnel shortage.

Under the new program launched Friday, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can join the navy on a year-long contract – either full-time or part-time – and then leave if they wish to after that.

Those who decide to stay on will be transferred to a naval trade.


Applications are open to people aged 16 to 57 years.

New recruits will undergo an eight-week basic military training and naval environmental training, in either Halifax, N.S., or Esquimalt, B.C., according to a media release by the Royal Canadian Navy.

“Life in the Navy can be demanding and challenging at times – it is not for everyone and that’s why the new Naval Experience Program gives participants the chance to experience life in the Navy, for one year, no strings attached,” said navy commander Vice-Adm. Angus Topshee, in a statement.

The salary will be equivalent to entry-level positions within the private sector, with paid rations and quarters, the RCN said.

The Canadian Armed Forces are in the midst of a recruiting crisis, with officials admitting that the number of applicants coming forward each month is about half what the military needs to meet its targets.

In an interview with The Canadian Press last year, Topshee said about 17 per cent of navy positions – equivalent to about 1,400 sailors – were vacant, as of September 2022.

“We need more people. We need them as quickly as we can get them,” he said at the time.

Amid the staffing crunch, the navy has started deploying less-experienced sailors on operations and eliminating certain positions as it struggles.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Forces in recent years have also been shaken by what experts have called a sexual misconduct “crisis.”

Defence Minister Anita Anand pledged to reform the military’s culture in “an ambitious roadmap” that was unveiled in December.

A review was formally launched in response to exclusive reporting by Global News into allegations of sexual misconduct at the highest ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces.

— with files from The Canadian Press



Source link

Continue Reading


Police recover 2 more bodies from St. Lawrence River near Ontario-Quebec border



Eight people are dead after they tried on Thursday to cross the St. Lawrence River into the United States near Akwesasne — a community which straddles Quebec, Ontario and New York state — according to officials. One other person is still missing.

Police recovered two more bodies from the river Friday, after discovering six bodies and an overturned boat during a missing person search Thursday afternoon.

The bodies are those of six adults and two children: one under the age of three who had a Canadian passport, the other an infant who was also a Canadian citizen, according to Shawn Dulude, the police chief for the nearby Kanien’kehá:ka community of Akwesasne. Dulude spoke to reporters at a Friday news conference.

They were found in a marsh on the riverbank.


They are believed to have been an Indian family and a Romanian family who were attempting to cross into the U.S., according to police.

Casey Oakes, 30, an Akwesasne resident, remains missing, police said. Oakes was last seen on Wednesday around 9:30 p.m. ET boarding a small, light blue vessel, leaving Cornwall Island. He was dressed in black, wearing a black face mask and a black tuque.

WATCH | Dulude speaks about the victims:

Police recover two more bodies from the St. Lawrence River

18 hours ago

Duration 1:21

Shawn Dulude, the chief of the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, says eight bodies have now been found after an overturned boat was spotted in the water on Thursday afternoon.

He was later reported missing, leading to the search efforts that found the bodies. Oakes is a person of interest in the case, said Dulude.

Police located Oakes’s vessel near the bodies, Lee-Ann O’Brien, the deputy chief of police for the Akwesasne Mohawk police service, said on Friday morning. Akwesasne is about 120 kilometres west of Montreal.

The IDs of the victims have not yet been released, pending notification of their next of kin.

A storm brought high winds and sleet into the area on Wednesday night. “It was not a good time to be out on the water,” O’Brien said.

“It could have been anything that caused this tragedy,” he said. “It could have been a faulty boat, it could have been human error and that the investigation will determine.”

A man standing outside against a winter landscape looks into the distance.
Kevin Sturge Lazore, captain of the Akwasasne Fire Department’s Station 3, sent 15 volunteer firefighters to search the river on Thursday. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

Kevin Sturge Lazore, captain of the Akwesasne Fire Department’s Station 3, sent 15 volunteer firefighters to search the river on Thursday after Oakes’s family reported him missing. Another dozen or so volunteers from other stations in the community joined the effort.

The firefighters recovered the boat, its hull dented on the bottom as if it had hit ice or a rock, Lazore said.

Akwesasne police report 80 illegal crossings this year


Akwesasne Mohawk police Chief Shawn Dulude says they have intercepted 80 attempted illegal crossings into the U.S. through their territory since January.

He and O’Brien said the boat was small, and wouldn’t have been able to safely carry seven or eight people.

“What that boat could handle and the amount of people in it, it doesn’t make a pretty picture,” Lazore said, standing by the fire department dock on the water.

Friday morning, the water was calm and mirror-like. “It can change in the blink of an eye,” Lazore said, noting waves were more than a metre high Wednesday night.

“The river is always the major concern…. Our elders tell us, always be careful, especially in the spring, with the runoff, the current is stronger and the water is freezing.”

Other attempted crossings

The volunteer firefighters were only searching for one person when they discovered the first six bodies.

“It’s hitting them now,” Lazore said, adding they had begun a debrief Thursday evening to process what they had seen, but were interrupted by a call for a structure fire.

Photo of bearded man with hat and sweater in front of a yellow background.
Casey Oakes, 30, was last seen boarding a small, light blue vessel, leaving Cornwall Island, according to police. (Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service)

Thursday wasn’t the first time Lazore’s team has been called on to search for missing people who have tried to cross the border.

He said they rescue people attempting to enter the U.S. or Canada over the river and its tributaries about three or four times a year.

“It gets hard. It wears the guys down.”

Almost exactly a year ago, they rescued a group of six Indian nationals who had just made it into the United States on the river when the boat they were in hit a shallow bank and got stuck.

They were able to stand up in the boat and were rescued by the volunteers and Akwesasne Police Department — which received $6.5 million from the Quebec government last year to help it deal with the increased flow of human smuggling in the area.

“They were lucky. It could have been a lot worse,” Lazore said.

Police search for adult, child still missing near Akwesasne

Police continued the search for two people missing on Friday after the bodies of six people were recovered from the St. Lawrence River near Akwesasne, on the Ontario, Quebec and New York borders.

The fire station is next to a recreation centre where community members gathered Friday afternoon. They sit across a road from the Tsi’Snaihne River.

A police helicopter circled above.

Next to the fire station, a group of men lit a sacred fire early that morning and kept it going throughout the day. Lazore said the fire was to honour the families and Oakes.

Smuggling on the rise

O’Brien, the deputy police chief, said the community has seen an uptick in human smuggling into the U.S. There have been 48 incidents so far this year, she said.

But the recent deaths had nothing to do with the closure of the Roxham Road illegal border crossing, she added.

“That closure was people seeking refuge, leaving the U.S. to Canada. These people were believed to be gaining entry into the U.S. It’s completely the opposite.”

Most of those who try to enter the U.S. through the area are Indian and Romanian families, she said, but she said she “had no idea” why that was the case.

Ryan Brissette, a public affairs officer with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, says the agency had seen a “massive uptick in encounters and apprehensions” at the border.

The agency saw more than eight times as many people try to cross from Canada into the U.S. in 2022 compared to previous years, he said. Many of them — more than 64,000 — came through Quebec or Ontario into New York.

“Comparing this area in the past, this is a significant number,” Brissette said.

“There’s a lot of different reasons as to why this is happening, why folks are coming all of a sudden through the northern border. I think a lot of them think it’s easier, an easy opportunity and they just don’t know the danger that it poses, especially in the winter months.”



Source link

Continue Reading


Canada’s carbon pricing is going up again. What it means for your wallet



Canadians in some provinces and territories will soon be paying a little bit more at the gas station as a federal carbon price is set to go up starting Saturday.

The fuel charge is rising by 30 per cent from $50 per tonne of emissions to $65 on April 1. This will translate to an increase of roughly three cents per litre for gas, reaching a total of 14 cents per litre.

The scheduled increase will apply in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon and Nunavut.


Meanwhile, the carbon price jump will go into effect in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island on July 1.

Canada began pricing carbon pollution in 2019.

The move is part of Ottawa’s commitment to tackle climate change with a goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

While Canadians will see an increase at the pumps, the carbon price increase is not expected to have a huge impact on their gas expenses, said Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, a senior researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“It’s an incremental increase, but it’s not actually going to be a huge change year-over-year that people will notice ,” he told Global News.

For individuals, it could mean a $1 jump per tank depending on how big the vehicle is, Mertins-Kirkwood estimated. For businesses too, it’s “not a major expense,” he said.

Mertins-Kirkwood said things like oil market fluctuations and gas taxes have a much bigger impact on energy costs.

“Those swings are way bigger than the carbon price.”


What else is changing?

The carbon price increase comes amid some temporary relief for Canadians with lower gas prices reported in February after record-high costs last year. Gas prices in Canada surpassed $2 per litre for the first time ever last year.

On a monthly basis, Canadian drivers paid one per cent less for gas in February, Statistics Canada said in its latest report released on March 21. Overall, gas prices dropped by 4.7 per cent in February – which was the first yearly decline since Jan 2021, StatCan reported.

The agency said the year-over-year decline is partially attributed to the significant jump in prices seen in February 2022 amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Canadian national average for gas prices stood at 150.8 cents per litre on Friday morning, according to GasBuddy. The CAA’s estimate for Friday was 149 cents per litre.

The carbon tax will not only raise gas prices, but could make its way into Canadian pocketbooks in other ways too.

For instance, aviation gasoline in the four provinces is also going up by roughly 3.5 cents a litre to a total of almost 16 cents per litre, which could potentially mean higher airfares down the line.

However, the rates for aviation gasoline and aviation turbo fuel will remain unchanged in the territories due to the “high reliance” on air transportation, the federal government says.

Light fuel oil, which is used in household equipment, is increasing to 17 cents per litre – an increment of nearly four cents.

Carbon pricing can have also ripple effects on food prices, other grocery items and shipped goods experts say, as Canada’s truck-based transportation industry will be spending more money to fill up the tank.

“It’s possible it could have an impact on things like shipping, but it’s a relatively minor impact,” said Mertins-Kirkwood.


Will rebates make a difference?

Ottawa has claimed that eight out of 10 Canadian families will get more money back than they pay under the federal carbon pricing plan because of the Climate Action Incentive.

Canadians can claim CAI payments by filing annual federal taxes.

Mertins-Kirkwood said most households, except those earning a high income, are “better off” from the carbon pricing due to the government rebate which recycles revenue back to families.

However, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), an independent watchdog, said in a report last year that a bulk of Canadian households over the long term will see a “net loss” from the federal carbon pricing by 2030-31.

The PBO said that Albertans in the top income quintile would pay the largest net cost from the carbon tax, while the lowest-income quintile households in Saskatchewan stand to see the largest net gain via the rebate.

— With files from Global News’ Craig Lord



Source link

Continue Reading