The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
- Volume Eight, Number Five: July 2003
BC holds key to nuclear
weapons at Nanoose
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
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."