Saturday, July 23, 2016

the magnificent Ursula Franklin

It is with great sorrow that I heard about the death on Friday of Ursula Franklin, one of Canada's greatest citizens. Ursula, a scientist and Holocaust survivor, was a dear friend of my parents who were also both heavily involved in the peace movement. She was a brilliant woman of enormous warmth, humanity and humour. A school was founded in her name by the Ontario NDP government in the early 80's and my daughter attended from the first year. The principles were based on social justice - kids wearing uniforms and committed to volunteering. It didn't quite work out that way, but the ideals were wonderful.
Franklin was also active in the Voice of Women (VOW), now the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, one of Canada's leading social advocacy organizations. In 1968, she and VOW national president Muriel Duckworth presented a brief to a House of Commons committee asserting that Canada and the United States had entered into military trade agreements without adequate public debate. They argued that these commercial arrangements made it difficult for Canada to adopt independent foreign policy positions such as calling for an immediate U.S. military withdrawal from South Vietnam.[19]In 1969, Franklin and Duckworth called on a committee of the Canadian Senate to recommend that Canada discontinue its chemical and biological weapons research and spend money instead on environmental research and preventive medicine.[20] Franklin was also part of a 1969 VOW delegation that urged the federal government to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and establish a special agency to oversee Canadian disarmament.[21]
The passage above, from Wikipedia, mentions Muriel Duckworth, another of the extraordinary women this country has produced. I salute and honour these exemplary Canadians, and mourn their loss.
"Peace is not the absence of war—peace is the absence of fear."
– Ursula Franklin in The Ursula Franklin Reader.[40]

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