When a country’s position on nuclear weapons does not match that of its citizens, cities too, can ramp up the pressure on the government to join the nuclear ban treaty. On April 24, the City of Toronto formally requested that “the Government of Canada sign the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” following the City Council’s reaffirmation of Toronto as a nuclear weapons free zone in November 2017.
This municipal action came as a result of hard work from Canadian campaigners who called on the City Council and the Board of Health to hold public hearings on the “dangers of nuclear weapons and radiation fall out.” Over 30 statements and letters from civil society were submitted to the public hearings and leading to the Board of Health recommending that City Council requests the Government of Canada to sign the treaty.
Cesar Jaramillo of Project Ploughshares, a Canadian ICAN partner, said “Canada’s largest city has set a compelling example for the nation and for the world to follow by reaffirming its status as a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone—and has demonstrated that national level intransigence on this existential matter need not trickle down to the municipal level.”
As one of the most diverse cities on the planet, home to over 2.9 million people more than 50% of whom were born outside of Canada, Toronto’s City Council recognizes that our world is interconnected and that nuclear weapons threaten us all. As a microcosm of the global community, it is only fitting that the City of Toronto would join the 122 states who adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in declaring that nuclear weapons are illegal and illegitimate threats to our shared humanity.
Should a nuclear weapon ever be detonated again, it will be local governments on the front line of the attempts to respond but none will have the capacity to do so. Based on the humanitarian dangers nuclear weapons pose, Toronto and the numerous other nuclear weapons free cities around the world are taking a stand when even when their national governments are lagging behind.
Image credit: George Socka | Flickr