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Douglas Roche Featured Speaker at August 6th Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration in Toronto

July 25, 2017

Toronto - Former Senator Douglas Roche, who also served as Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament, will be the keynote speaker at the August 6, 2017 Hiroshima Nagasaki Day commemoration at the Toronto City Hall Peace Garden.

Mr. Roche will deliver his keynote address, "New Action Now: Banning Nuclear Weapons," exactly one month after 122 countries approved the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the UN on July 7. Only Netherlands, a member of NATO like Canada, voted against. Under pressure from the U.S., Canada boycotted the negotiations and vote on the treaty.

The new UN treaty states that the "catastrophic humanitarian consequences" of nuclear weapons transcend national borders, pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socio-economic development, the global economy, food security, and for the health of future generations. The ban treaty will enter into force after it has been ratified by 50 countries.

Douglas Roche served as a Progressive Conservative MP for Edmonton 1972-1984 and in the Senate 1998-2004. He was the founding president of Parliamentarians for Global Action in 1980 and was the Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament 1984-89.

Mr. Roche was also the founding chairman of the Middle Powers Initiative in 1998, a coalition of leading NGO's and middle countries dedicated to the world-wide reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Roche was deeply concerned when U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev came close to but then failed to abolish their nuclear weapons arsenals at their Reykjavik summit in 1986. "Suddenly, the two most powerful leaders in the world had put on the table precisely what we were struggling for: the end of nuclear weapons," he recalled."Then, just as suddenly, they had swept the vision away."

He has warned that while the US and Russia have reduced their nuclear weapons stockpiles, the total of 15,000 nuclear weapons still possessed by nine nuclear weapon states, all of which are in the process of modernizing their nuclear arsenals, is a monumental risk to humanity.

Despite Canada's boycott of the new UN ban treaty, Roche is encouraging Canadians to continue to work for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. "The worst mistake we can make at this juncture is to lose confidence in our ability to effect change." In his latest book, Hope Not Fear: Building Peace in a Fractured World, he affirms that "Peace builders, so long thwarted by the rich and powerful, are starting to influence the course of history. The peace building process is an act of hope we dare not give up."

The annual peace commemoration at the Toronto City Hall Peace Garden begins at 6:30 with live music by the Isshin Daiko Musical Ensemble and Grammy nominated flutist Ron Korb. The Pax Christi Chorale and the political satirical group, the Raging Grannies, will also perform.

Mayor John Tory's Hiroshima Day Proclamation will be read and the atom bomb survivor Setsuko Thurlow will read excerpts from the city of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Declarations. At the close of the commemoration, Ron Korb will lead the audience to a lantern ceremony in the City Hall reflecting pool. Community information tables and Origami paper crane and lantern making will begin at 4:30 pm.

From August 3 to 9, the Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition will also be holding a large exhibit of paintings by survivors and photographs of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings inside the Toronto City Hall Rotunda, 100 Queen Street West.

For further information about the commemoration, visit the website

For more information contact:
Anton Wagner
Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition
Phone: 416-863-1209

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