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Ottawa's Wicked Ways: Canada Screws Nanoose for US.

Canada -- The Canadian government has threatened to expropriate a portion of British Columbia's Nanoose Bay, so that the US Navy can continue to test weapons in Canadian waters. According to the Pacific Campaign for Disarmament and Security [3780 Lake Rd., Denman Is., BC, Canada VOR 1TO], the move marks "the first hostile, unilateral expropriation of provincial territory in Canadian history."

In 1992, BC voters passed a Nuclear-Weapons-Free law by a margin of 51 to 1. Because the US Navy refuses to acknowledge whether any of its ships and planes carry nuclear arms, the BC government threatened not to renew the tease to operate the joint Canadian-US Nanoose Bay weapons test site.

On May 14, Canada's federal government filed a Notice of Intention to Expropriate the seabed by order of "Her Majesty the Queen ... for a purpose related to the safety or security of Canada or of a state allied or associated with Canada." The notice declared that "it would not be in the public interest further to indicate that purpose."

BC Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Andrew Petter snapped that Ottawa "seems to care more about the ability of the US to bring nuclear weapons to Nanoose than they do about providing a form of support for coastal communities and conserving salmon."

Citing the armed "humanitarian" attacks on Serbia, Ottawa maintained that testing subs and torpedoes at Nanoose was essential to meeting Canada's "NATO commitments." Because Yugoslavia is a land-locked country, this argument didn't hold water.

Canada hoped to seize the seabed by September 4, but a 1997 Supreme Court ruling requires prior notification and approval of the region's native people. The Nanoose First Nation people were not consulted. "In a replay of The Mouse That Roared," the National Post reported, "the tiny Nanoose First Nation -- all 230 strong -- is squaring off against the federal government and the US military."

The Nanoose -- fed up with the noise of submarine dive horns, gunfire and screaming jets want the training site returned to the tribe. "They know the land they occupy was Indian land and they removed us from there," says Nanoose Chief Wayne Edwards.

What You Can Do:

For the latest developments, check the BC government website [www. nanoose.gov.be.ca].
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Publication:Earth Island Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 1999
Words:369
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