Sooke council has once again moved to tackle a global issue.
Dr. Jonathan Down of the Physicians for Global Survival appeared before council recently urging it to join other municipalities to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The treaty was adopted by the United Nations in 2017 and would forbid all activities related to nuclear weapons, including testing, building, funding, using or threatening to use them. To come into force, the treaty needs 50 countries to sign it
Faced with the reality that many countries are dragging their feet on the ratification, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (of which Down’s group is an offshoot) was formed. The initiative garnered the group the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Physicians for Global Survival believes the commitment by municipalities to support the treaty can have the effect of moving federal governments to act.
While Sooke council was prepared to adopt a resolution of support, Coun. Al Beddows expressed reservations about the concept.
“I don’t think that at the municipal level this is something we should be doing,” Beddows said.
“Of course, it would be great to get rid of them (nuclear weapons), but Russia and others don’t hear us. This is a federal matter and these motions are token, at best. It’s just not the venue to be doing this.”
Coun. Jeff Bateman disagreed pointing out the nuclear doomsday clock is now set at two minutes to midnight, the worst it’s been since 1953.
And while he agreed with Beddows that issues like nuclear arms are certainly handled at a macro level, he also agreed municipalities have it within their power to send a message that represents the will of the people to senior levels of government.
That’s an approach supported by Mayor Maja Tait.
“We are the closest to the people and have a responsibility to represent them (on issues like this). Most people don’t even know where their MLA’s or MP’s office is,” Tait said.
“But we are here and present in the community and have daily conversations with the people we represent. It’s our responsibility to recognize our role in representing those people through resolutions like this and making their voices heard.”
She said people recognize municipal governments are limited in what they can do on global issues, but have been very positive when the council makes its voice heard through resolutions of this kind.
While global issues can seem to be daunting and beyond the scope of municipal governments, municipalities are where the impact of these issues is often felt first, Tait said
The motion to support the resolution passed, with Beddows the lone dissenting vote.