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  • Volume Eight, Number Five: July 2003

    BC holds key to nuclear weapons at Nanoose

    The BC government is now the only agency that could prevent the federal government from allowing nuclear warheads into the province, says Norm Abbey, director of the Society Promoting environmental Conservation, following expiry of an August 27 deadline to appeal Ottawa's expropriation of Nanoose Bay to the Supreme Court of Canada.
    SPEC won a lower court challenge when Federal Court Justice D. Campbell agreed with West Coast Environmental Law Association (WCELA) staff lawyer Andrew Gage and and Queen’s counsel David Wright ruling that "members of the objecting public are right to expect that what they have to say will be seriously considered and perhaps impede, change or end the expropriation."

    In March, 2003, however, the Federal Court of Appeal reversed that decision.  Abbey says SPEC will not appeal further citing costs and strategic reasons, “not the least of which is BC's failure to intervene with SPEC on the public's behalf.” Although the BC government did file a separate court challenge in 1999, it hasn't proceeded, in spite of the legislature's 1992 all-party vote to make the province nuclear weapons free.
    ”The BC government officially opposes nuclear weapons in the province, but remains silent when citizens ask it to take a stand,” Gage said.  “If BC had supported this case we believe we could have gone to the Supreme Court of Canada.”

    SPEC has now exhausted legal efforts to obtain public and environmental accountability on Nanoose; including a challenge of toxic dumping associated with weapons tests, and requesting an advisory opinion from a Canadian court regarding the 1996 ruling by the UN's International Court of Justice that even the threat of nuclear weapons is illegal under international law.

    "SPEC has taken this as far as our resources permit,” said Abbey.  “It's now up to our provincial government to show leadership protecting the public interest."

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