The Herr Lecture Series, hosted by Burman University and held at the Lacombe Memorial Centre, is returning for a new season on Oct. 10th at 7:30 p.m.
Hon. Douglas Roche, an author, parliamentarian and diplomat, will be giving a talk entitled “Hope Not Fear: Building Peace in a Fractured World”.
Roche, who was progressive conservative MP, a Canadian Senator and the Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament, will focus on the world’s right for peace and the issue of nuclear disarmament, which Roche has pushed for throughout his entire career.
“My message is essentially one of hope for the future, built on what we have already accomplished through building international institutions, leading to a culture and the right to peace,” he said.
Roche’s message comes at a time when nuclear disarmament seems further away due to ongoing tensions throughout the world.
“I think that North Korea problem will be contained if not permanently resolved,” Roche said. “Iran is a greater danger to the peace of the world and the greatest danger is the possession of nuclear weapons by those that have them.”
Roche said it is unrealistic to believe that authoritarian states like North Korea and Iran will not gain access to nuclear weapons, meaning the onus is members of the United Nations Security Council to disarm to ensure the safety of the world.
“The legal obligation to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons is so important and that leads to the new prohibition treaty, which was signed on July 7th, 2017,” Roche said. “That has been circulated among countries for ratification and would prohibit nuclear weapons. Canada is opposing that treaty.”
Currently, Roche is working with disarmament groups in Canada to push the Government to ratify the treaty. Roche said that average Canadians voicing their opinions is the only way that the Government will hear the call for disarmament.
“If the government doesn’t get opinions or feedback from people then they assume nobody cares,” Roche said. “It is important to give an opinion whether it is through the media, through parliament — any means of communication.”
Roche added there are many groups that advocate for nuclear disarmament in Canada.
“There are many groups like the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons that are actively working in this field,” he said. “I would encourage people to wake up and realize the dangers that are facing the world as a result of nuclear weapons and push back the government systems that are maintaining nuclear weapons.”
Roche recognizes that the majority of nuclear weapons reside in the United States and Russia, meaning that the international community, including Canada, has to put pressure on these superpowers to disarm.
”Canada is a bigger player than is generally realized,” Roche said. “It has a lot of influence when it wished to exert that influence and we saw that with Pierre Trudeau in the 1980s when he campaigned vigorously against nuclear weapons.”
While many Canadians think nuclear war in Canada is a remote possibility, much of the United States nuclear arsenal is housing near the Canadian border.
“The minute anything goes wrong, Canada will not be exempt from a nuclear weapon humanitarian catastrophe,” Roche said.
Roche said it is important to build a multilateralism when it comes to the international community that recognizes the value of peace and that understands, “An approach that recognizes there is no security for anybody unless there is security for everybody.”
Roche hopes his talk at the LMC can give people a sense of hope.
“I think we need to reestablish some confidence in our ability as a people to help to lead the world community to safer grounds,” he said.
With 2,000 nuclear weapons in the world always on constant alert in Russia and the United States, Roche hopes people can see the value in disarmament.
“I come at this subject with a sense of hope that humanity can come to a higher level of understanding of itself and can take the actions to protect itself,” he said.
Tickets are free and are available at the door or at https://www.burmanu.ca/herrlectures/events.