Canadians say 'don't attack Iraq'

Richard Fidler rfidler at
Wed Nov 20 16:39:02 MST 2002

Greg Dunkel:

>>There appears to be a national anti-war coalition of trade unions, church
groups, student groups, NDP and peace groups that pulled off these
coordinated demonstrations [in Canada]. <<

Actually, no national (federal) coalition, but a lot of local coalitions
that are in most instances very broad and non-exclusive, and informally
linked with each other. So far as I can tell, no political current or
tendency dominates, although members of the New Democratic Party are
probably active in most coalitions.

Here's another report:

Canadians say 'don't attack Iraq'

by Erin George
November 19, 2002 (

Across Canada this past weekend, despite miserable weather, more than 35,000
people demonstrated against the threatened war on Iraq.

Actions were held on November 15, 16 or 17 across Canada, from Victoria to
Thunder Bay to Charlottetown, in communities big and small.

Muslims and Arabs, students, peaceniks, trade unionists, seniors,
environmentalists, Aboriginal people, anti-racists, people of faith, raging
grannies, parents, kids, street theatre performers and anti-war organizers
braved gale force winds, blinding snow storms, freezing rain and sub-zero
temperatures to take their message into the streets across the country.

Canadians are part of a growing worldwide opposition to war on Iraq. One
million people filled the streets of Florence, Italy, November 9 in
opposition to the war. In the belly of the beast, 200,000 surrounded the
White House in Washington, D.C. and 75,000 rallied in San Francisco on
October 26. And 400,000 marched in London, England, September 28, in a
demonstration co-sponsored by the Coalition to Stop the War and the Muslim
Association of Britain.

All this before the war has even started.

Everywhere organizers and participants were adamant in their disgust for the
"anti-democratic and brutal" regime of Saddam Hussein. They expressed
solidarity with the people of Iraq who not only suffer under the
dictatorship but have also endured the 1991 Gulf War and twelve years of
United Nations' sanctions. An estimated 1.5 million Iraqis have died as a
result of these sanctions that prevent the Iraqi people from accessing basic
food, medicine and water.

In Edmonton, Patti Harnagel from End the Arms Race told the crowd of 750
that "the U.S. Congress didn't stop the Vietnam War. The people stopped the

Confidence is so high this time, many people believe this war can be stopped
before it starts.

Slogans included the standard "No blood for oil," a popular chant during the
demonstrations against the 1991 Gulf War. A new generation, also recognizing
this as just another war for profit, has livened up the slogan. In Halifax,
300 chanted "No, no we won't go, we won't kill for Texaco," and in Toronto
8,000 shouted "Exxon, Mobil, BP, Shell, take your war and go to hell."

In Montreal, 5,000 linked their opposition to war to the struggle for
Palestinian human rights.

Without exception, in every city, there was an incredible response to the
actions from pedestrians, motorists, and transit drivers. Pedestrians
readily accepted leaflets and in some cases joined the march. Motorists
honked their horns madly in support and took placards and signs to post in
their windows. And streetcar and bus drivers joined in the fray, ringing and
honking their opposition to war.

The biggest demonstration by far was in Vancouver, where euphoria from the
left slate's victory in the recent municipal election swept people into the
streets. Fifteen thousand marched through the rain chanting "Chrétien, Bush
and Blair, we'll resist you everywhere."

In smaller communities, like Tofino, Brandon, Thunder Bay, Midland, and
Sydney, where protesters numbered in the tens rather than in the hundreds
and thousands, organizers said the turnout was a "positive beginning." Many
of these communities used the day of action to launch a petition campaign
calling for Prime Minister Jean Chrétien not support war on Iraq.

Organizers said the anti-war movement is just getting started. They put the
call out for the next pan-Canadian anti-war days of action January 18 and

"The liberal government here will face a political crisis like they have
never known if they decide to support a war on the people of Iraq," said
Faline Bobier, emcee of the Toronto rally and member of the Toronto
Coalition Against Sanctions and War on Iraq.

Erin George is an activist with Toronto Mobilization for Global Justice and
a freelance writer.

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