The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on May 15, 1997 · 25
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 25

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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Thursday, May 15, 1997
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25
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LETTERS THE OTTAWA CITIZEN THURSDAY, MAY 15, 1997 B5 War weapons iiist not suitable for kids When the National Capital Air Show organizers offered the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) a venue inside the Air Show, we had mixed feelings. Was this an attempt to co-opt us or hide us in a corner? Would bringing our volunteers inside the Air Show be like leading the Christians into a Roman forum filled with lions and gladiators? We were expecting a balance of civilian and military aircraft, but found that an overwhelming majority of planes were advanced military fighters and bombers. More shocking was the fact that most of these were U.S. warplanes. COAT set up the Iraqi children's art display in the hopes of presenting a human perspective on war. Thousands of Air Show participants who walked past us were so entranced by the dozens of sophisticated warplanes that they did not even notice our display. Many others saw what we were exhibiting but deliberately turned away, ignoring our quiet protest. The childishly innocent paintings of devastation were passed by, in favour of the very planes that had caused that devastation. Many were keen to argue, while others stopped to look and even thanked us for being there. Some parents would not even let their children view the art, though they were happy to let them see the weapons delivery systems that made the art necessary. Likewise, some U.S. fighter pilots were ordered to return our pamphlets without reading them. It is not surprising then that some might not know why we were there, or understand our concerns. The two letters in support of the Air Show discuss Canada's role in the First World War. I don't recall seeing any planes from that war at the show. Nowhere in my May 8 article, or in COAT's pamphlets or our Air Show display was there any mention, let alone criticism, of Canada's role in that war. The letters from David Code and Allan Johnson seemed to raise Second World War issues to distract readers from COAT's actual critique of the Air Show. There are at least two main points that seem to be completely lost on Mr. Code and Mr. Johnson. First, we do not believe that weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons delivery systems, are suitable as children's entertainment. I was shocked to see young Boy Scouts literally jumping for joy at the sight of air-to-surface missiles suspended beneath the wings of mighty killing machines. There were children shouting in glee at the chance to fondle the modern weaponry on display. Children approached us asking where they could get autographs from the Gulf War pilots. There was an overpowering awe, excitement and blind fascination (among children and adults alike) Kids in 'baby jogger' seized from runner at finish line I have been running the Ottawa 10K since 1986. Never have I been so badly treated as I have in the MDS Nordion 10K. As I have done in other years, I decided to run with my two children 4 and 6 in my dual "baby jogger." Everything was very enjoyable until I reached the finish line. As I approached the finish line, I was stopped by a very stern official and told that I could not cross the finish line pushing the baby jogger. Despite my argument that two men pushing joggers had just gone through the line and that this was the third time I have used my jogger in the 10K, the official refused to budge and forcibly took the jogger with the two kids who were crying by this time from me and gave the jogger to a complete stranger who was just passing by and then I was pushed up the line. The stranger with the crying kids kept beside me and I was able to get the kids back in a few seconds. I returned later with my husband who had witnessed the same thing with another woman pushing a single jogger 11 minutes later. The official we spoke to, Mark Roy, could only state "for security reasons" as the reason for the official refusing to let me, (and the other lady), push the joggers across the finish line. He had no explanation as to why two men pushing joggers were allowed to go past the finish line. My main points are: The publicity did not identify any restrictions regarding baby joggers. The officials at the start did not provide any advice with regard to the restrictions. Two men pushing joggers had no problem passing the line with the joggers while two women were blocked.. The official physically took the kids from me and gave them to a stranger, (not even a volunteer with the race). ;. : . u - m I ...a . i . v x rf inV . ; V i'fL y ' ' I 'V ' .' , ' , I I : , ' . , ; . I. : ;yy:,- - V iTtiriininiiim- uj,ui, - J' '--" -. jtj-..., . . , THE OTTAWA CITIZEN Chief Warrant Officer Kent Wagner (USAF) lets Matthew Scharf, 3, try on a helmet used by the Blackhawk combat helicopter while Haley Aiken, 3, awaits her turn at the National Capital Air Show on May 10. with the war technology. This dangerous intoxication with warplanes was completely divorced from their impact upon millions of people. This raises the second point missed by those who oppose our peace message. I would hope those who criticize our efforts would at least agree that the Geneva Conventions should be respected. If, as espoused by Mr. Johnson and Mr. Code, we use military air power to enforce peace, democracy and freedom, surely we cannot rationalize the massacre of millions of innocent civilians in the process. Former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark in his book, A Report on the US. War Crimes Against Iraq, (1992) states that the bombing killed 125,000 to 300,000 people. "We recognize that our role in history is to bring the transgressors to justice." The UN Food and Agricultural Organization states that in the five years following the war, 567,000 children under the age of five died as a result of the destruction of water, electrical and sewage plants. I wonder whether Mr. Johnson and Mr. Code believe that U.S. and Canadian troops were justified in contravening the 1977 Additional to the Geneva Convention, which clearly states that "It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as ... drinking water installations ... whatever the motive." Richard Sanders, co-ordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, Ottawa S it k 4 X 1 hi .... ,dk wmmx- imiihi tut.:. -.-& THE OTTAWA CITIZEN 'Baby joggers' allow runners to keep small children with them even as they race. Here 15-month-old Eva vonjagow of Stittsville sleeps while her mother Karen competes in a 6K event The reason for the action was not made clear. "For security reasons" does not cut it. To top it all off, when I went back to get a medal for the kids, I was told I could not have one. I would like an apology from the organization for the treatment I received and a clear statement printed in the local papers on the policy regarding baby joggers. This letter is being sent to the Citizen because I do not have an address for the company responsible for the race. I m also sending this letter to 1 m I Anti-war display too one-sided I was astounded to read such a onesided, blatantly biased article written by Richard Sanders, the co-ordinator of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade ("Mother's Day at the war show," May 9). Having attended the Air Show, it was very evident that the display set up portraying scenes from Desert Storm was not very well-received by spectators. It failed to provided any indication that it was Iraq that provoked the conflict, caused mass environmental damage by setting over 700 oil wells on fire upon their retreat, and instantly attacked the helpless Kurdish refugees when the allies had left. Mr. Sanders goes on to state that the Air Show has now become known as the war show. By whom? Furthermore, the Air Show does not flaunt weapons of mass destruction as family entertainment. It is a chance for the dedicated servicemen and women to provide taxpayers with a opportunity to see the capabilities that we possess as a nation. Capabilities that serve as a great deterrent against hostilities being carried out on our soil. I challenge Mr. Sanders to outline where he believes that the supposedly hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Canadian military hardware is sold every year. He should be made aware that the bulk of this equipment is clothing and other non-destructive Mr. John Morrison, President of MDS Nordion, the sponsors of the 10K. Lise Marshall, Chelsea Abusive drivers put runners, volunteers at needless risk On Sunday, May 11, my family and I worked as volunteers for the Ottawa Marathon, as we have done for the past several years. We took on the job of manning barricades to control traffic flow and allow the runners to pass the intersection of Richmond Road and Island Park Drive without danger from oncoming traffic. We manned that corner from 7 a.m. until approximately 1 p.m. with six young cadets from Gatineau and one Ottawa police officer. Again this year we were amazed and disgusted by the absolute lack of tolerance and patience on the part of the car drivers. The drivers of about eight out of every 10 vehicles were aggressive, intolerant, impatient and just plain rude. Many of them were abusive and many used offensive language. Quite a number of cars tried to run the barricade, to the danger of not only the runners, but to the volunteers also. For over five hours we were yelled at and verbally abused. The police officer was treated the same way and even threatened with bodily injury. Shame on you, citizens of Ottawa. Many of you claimed that you were on the way to church. Surely this is not the way you are taught to act towards your fellow citizens. Good for you, Marathon runners. We will be back again next year to man the barricades and iheer you on. Your smiles and wort's of thanks make it all worthwhile. Lynn Olsen, Ottawa goods. As for the most violent countries, I would be anxious to hear what these are, coming from someone who has chosen to call an Air Show a war show. Mr. Sanders, as long as we live in a democratic society, you will be entitled to your view, and I mine. That is the beauty of a democracy. But a democracy includes the ability to defend your interests and values. It would be nice if we lived in a Utopian society, but the reality is that we live in a very complex world, with complex relationships. Thus, the necessity for deterrents to ensure that our interests are not compromised. I would ask that in the future, your organization please refrain from painting such a one-sided story. As a responsible citizen who benefits from the freedoms associated with democracy, it is the least you can do. Capt. Rob Dargewitcz, staff officer ADM(Policy), National Defence, Ottawa Gulf War human, environmental disaster In applauding the display of military might at the Air Show, Allan Johnson claims that advanced military technology made the Gulf War a triumph. He doesn't seem to understand that the Gulf War was a human and environmental disaster that should never have occurred. It is obvious to many that, besides protecting their supply of oil, a major reason diplomacy failed was because Nothing indecent about bare breasts I would like to respond to the letter "Majority Must Oppose topless trend" (May 13) written by Ms. Rosemary McKee. In response to her statement that the idea is "obscene and abhorrent to morality and designed to incite lust or depravity," I would like to question Ms. McKee's view of the human body. Breasts are merely a part of it and I will assume that Ms. McKee has them herself. Does she consider her own breasts so abhorrent? As for the majority of Canadians feeling the same, I would like to mention that I do not remember being polled on this issue and I am not sure why she feels that she has the right to speak for the majority of Canadians. In response to her statement that a topless woman in a public place is indecent, I wonder if she also feels that breastfeeding an infant is as revolting. As for her statement "we don't want her in places where our children can see her," she should just stick to being concerned about her own children. I prefer that my children be raised with the healthy attitude that breasts are a beautiful part of our bodies. As for saying people will soon be allowed to swim naked: Soon is an understatement. Forty years ago swimming naked was the norm at the YW-CAs and YMCAs and I imagine the reason bottoms are required in a pool is for sanitary reasons, not for aesthetics. Only in North America do people seem to be so uptight about something as natural as the human body. Breastfeeding in public was once a huge issue. Why? Because people just were not used to it. Now that it is being done more and more it has become more accepted. We have gone a long way to strive for equality and acceptance in this world. It's a real shame that these kinds of outdated and oppressive ideas will be handed down to our fu-tureenerations. the American armament industry had to dispose of enormous stockpiles of stale-dated weapons and equipment and it was highly preferable to do this at the taxpayer's expense. The axiom "might is right" doesn't apply in a civilized society. Why should the guy with the biggest weapon be the winner? It's a mistake to assume he's a protector, and not just a bully. Rosalie Reynolds, Ottawa Let's make war 'out of fashion' This is in response to David Cole's letter of May 11. Mr. Cole states that Richard Sanders of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) is "out of fashion" in objecting to the display of contemporary U.S. warplanes at the National Capital Air Show. If it is "out of fashion" to be offended by the stealth bombers that can "deliver" up to 75,000 pounds of conventional nuclear bombs, then I'm gladly "out of fashion." I feel that Richard Sanders and COAT perform a valuable service by getting hard-to-find information out to the Canadian public information such as that, on April 1, 1997, the U.S. military unveiled new atomic bombs for use on B-2 stealth bombers. This action breeches the U.S. undertaking not to build new nuclear weapons. The "Cold War" is over. Richard Sanders, COAT and many other peace and social justice groups are attempting to point out that weapons of mass destruction are too costly in terms of environmental waste, financial resources and human lives. COAT and other social justice groups want to help make warplanes and war "out of fashion." Pamela Wolfe, Ottawa Glorifying destruction not a human priority As one who attended the Air Show on Sunday, May u, with persons representing the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, I want to mention two is-' sues that have not been raised very fully in the articles and letters I have seen. The first is that the Air Show represented a terrifying display of inhuman priorities. Here were billions of dollars worth of destructive machines being glorified. If we spent as much money on water, food, shelter and health care we could be on the way to a world where humans would not be led to war and justice would be expressed for all. What does this kind of destruction expenditure say to all, and especially children and young people, many of whom were present at the air show? The second is the crass use of fuel that the air show represented, and the pollution related to this. Using the world's resources in this wasteful way further indicates our unwillingness to-live responsibly as part of one world. And this will certainly lead to further conflict. Rev. Bernard Barrett, Ottawa Lastly, I do not consider myself an immoral person just because I have a healthy and grateful attitude about my own body. Nor do I think anyone else has the right to make that kind of judgement. Trish Toompuu, Ottawa Outrage cuts both ways I remember my cousin being run off a public beach in Western Australia in the 1930s for daring to appear in a topless bathing suit. "The whole idea was obscene disgusting to the senses, abhorrent to morality, designed to insight lust or depravity," said a May 13 letter. "Majority must oppose topless trend." Today, that same cousin could bathe topless in any Ottawa pool and no one would take a second look at HIM. Depravity is in the eyes of the beholder. A. Corelle Quentin, Calabogie Letters to the Editor We welcome letters, which must include full name, an address and phone number for verification. We condense and edit for style. Cite page and date for articles mentioned. Mail: Letters to the Editor, Ottawa Citizen 1101 Baxter Rd., Ottawa, K2C 3M4 Fax:596-8458 E-mail: letters(5)thecitizen.southam.ca Touch! ine: A recorded guide to writing letters to the editor is available on Touchline. Using a Touch-Tone phone, dial 721-1990 and enter code 2422. The Citizen Online: www.ottawacitizen.com Letters Editor: Brjsn Sarjeant, 596-3785

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