[Marxism] Anti-occupation movement is alive and well in Toronto

Ernie & Jess mackenzie.tate at sympatico.ca
Sun Mar 21 12:24:09 MST 2004

Toronto Demonstration a Huge Success, Despite Rotten Weather.

By Ernie Tate

The Toronto press reports that about 8000 people were at City Hall to 
protest the occupation of Iraq, on March 20th.  The action was organized 
in solidarity with the international protests. As one of the people who 
participated in the coalition that organized the action, I was somewhat 
surprised at the large turn-out. I had expected less because the day 
started out with a heavy snow-storm which turned into pouring rain by 
lunch, soaking the participants.

In the weeks before March 20, as we were planning the action, all of us 
were aware that the movement had subsided somewhat over the past year -- 
when some of the protests were quite small -- and that it would require 
a special effort by all of us to  make this action a success -- but we 
thought it important to test the waters to try and keep the momentum 
going even if just to see what state the movement is in.

Our coalition is quite open and non-sectarian and is comprised of many 
social, ethnic and left poltical groups. The International Socialists 
are the largest group in the coalition, and they played an important 
role -- if not decisive -- in the success of the action.

If Saturday's activity is anything to go by, the anti-war movement in 
Toronto is in fairly good shape and holds hope for the future. Lots of 
young people were out -- I would say a majority were of student age -- 
and a large representation from the  Middle East and South Asian 
community. A few trade-union banners could be seen -- from Steelworkers 
locals, CUPE and the Communication and Paperworkers.  Many trade-union 
activists helped out in the marshalling, but it was clear there had not 
been a mobilization by the unions to get their members out.

The Provincial Council of the NDP which was meeting close by -- about 
200 people -- came over as a body to join the demo. Many NDP city 
councillors were present. Howard Hampton, the Provincial party leader 
participated.  Jack Layton, Federal Leader, whose wife, Olivia Chow was 
a main speaker, had a statement read out from the platform supporting 
the protests. Layton was speaking at the demonstration in Vancouver. The 
party is viewed by many activists as being an anti-war party.

Many of the people I talked to on the demo were of the opinion that a 
big element in raising the spirits of the movement, is the apparent 
disintegration of Bush's "coalition", with Spain and Poland getting 
ready to pull out. This gave immense encouragement to particpants that 
their activities can have some positive effect. That was the theme of 
the slogans on many hand-made placards.

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