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British Columbia Flashback: Activists dispute safety of nuclear-powered military ships

Former President of the International Woodworkers of America Jack Munro at his home in West Vancouver on October 31, 2008.

Lyle Stafford for the Globe and Mail/lyle stafford The Globe and Mail

15 YEARS AGO… (Aug. 14-20, 1996)

Federal studies irk anti-nuclear activists

Federal officials released a trio of studies this week playing down the risks associated with nuclear-powered military vessels in B.C. waters, while anti-nuclear activists dismissed the studies as nothing more than "public relations tools."

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Steven Staples of Vancouver-based group End The Arms Race said the studies are "obviously designed to placate public concerns" about the economic and environmental impact of the Canadian Forces' test range at Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island.

Mr. Staples said the studies were released to build support for renewing the joint Canada-U.S. operating agreement for the facility, known as Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and Test Ranges.

The deadline to renew the agreement passed in June amid growing opposition to the test range. B.C. Premier Glen Clark and Nanaimo MP Bob Ringma are among those calling for a full public review of the facility before any decision is made on extending the deal.

CFB Esquimalt Lieutenant Dave Scanlon said nuclear-powered submarines have been plying Canadian waters for the past 30 years with no major problems.

Flash forward: Fed up with ongoing public protests and provincial government resistance to the test range, the Department of National Defence expropriated the seabed around CFMETR in 1999.

25 YEARS AGO… (Aug. 14-20, 1986)

Vander Zalm calls for end to forestry dispute

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As the number of striking forestry workers swelled to 19,400 this week, Premier Bill Vander Zalm warned B.C.'s forest companies and International Woodworkers of America that he won't let the province "go down a hole" while the dispute drags on.

While Mr. Vander Zalm said he's not ready to intervene directly, he encouraged the parties to drop by his office and sit down "over a nice cup of coffee."

About 2,000 workers walked off the job Tuesday, shutting down the remaining coastal operations of MacMillan-Bloedel and Canadian Forest Products.

Tensions in the month-old strike heightened Thursday as the industry's bargaining agent, Forest Industrial Relations, asked the B.C. Labour Relations Board for a formal order preventing the IWA from signing side deals with individual companies.

IWA president Jack Munro confirmed that 11 companies have inked deals with the union placing limits on the use of non-union contractors. On Friday, Mr. Munro threatened legal action against Forest Industrial Relations over a series of newspaper ads that he said compare him to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Flash forward: With Mr. Vander Zalm threatening to legislate an end to the strike, Forest Industrial Relations and the IWA reached a tentative agreement in December, 1986.

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