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Anti-war rallies across the country

October 27, 2014

Last weekend saw anti-war protests across the country, organized by the Canadian Peace Alliance and the Collectif Échec à la guerre.
In Vancouver around 100 people came out to Waterfront Station in to hold banners and signs and hand out leaflets to passers by. The rally was organized by StopWar which was founded out of the organizing to stop the 2003 war in Iraq. One of the speakers, Derrick O'Keefe, pointed out that that this war is a continuition of the American led invasion of 2003 which itself was a continuation of the war on Iraq in 1990-91 that Canada also participated in.
In Toronto around 100 people rallied across from the US consulate. As the MC of the rally, Faline Bobier said in reference to the recent attacks on soldiers, "We condemn these acts of violence just as we are standing here today condemning the violence that our own government is helping to unleash on innocent civilians in Iraq and Syria." Rajean Hoilett, president of the Ryerson Student's Union, said, "As students who have been plagued by incredible student debt, cuts to social programs and high youth unemployment, we are consistently told there is no money to invest in our issues. This is why we appaled when this government is so eager to invest $6 billion of our tax money in military operations." Later the rally chanted "Drop fees, not bombs." As trade union activist Carolyn Egan explained, "It was the Iraq War that started ISIS, started the conditions that allowed the rise of ISIS, and that destablized Iraq...But further military intervention is not going to solve the problem, it's only going to make it worse...We've seen the rise of Islamophobia over the years and it's only going to be heightened." She described the latest Islamophobic attacks on school trustee candidate Ausma Malik, but also the labour solidarity that rose in her defence. Ali Mallah from the Canadian Arab Federation said, "Stephen Harper and the Canadian government have got Canada involved in a deadly war, and no one will benefit but the rich and the military manufacturers, while the poor will die."
In Ottawa nearly 100 people gather in front of the Human Rights Monument in Ottawa under the slogan "Peace, Justice, Unity and Democracy" as part of the pan-Canadian day of action against war in Iraq and Syria. Just down the street from where the shooting at the War Memorial and Parliament Hill took place a couple of days earlier, the rally underscored the root causes for that violence and decried attempts by politicians to use it as a pretext to build support for war and for infringement of civil liberties. Speakers included Anne-Marie Roy, president of the University of Ottawa student's union (CFS), labour activist Hassan Husseini, Abdourahman Fahim of Muslim Presence, Indigenous activist Ben Powless, and Chris Jones for the Ottawa Peace Assembly. The rally ended with chants of "Islam is not the enemy; war is not the answer."
Activists in PEI organized a discussion and walk, linking opposition with the Ottawa attacks to opposition to war. As Leo Broderick explained, "As I heard members of parliament recount their experiences, I couldn't help but be reminded of what the horror of war is for millions and millions of people everyday in their lives. It is the government of this country that will be inflicting that kind of horror on the people of Iraq."
Rallies also took place in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Windsor, London, and Montreal.
For  more information visit the Canadian Peace Alliance.
For videos of the Toronto rally, watch Sid Lacombe, Rajean Hoilett, Carolyn Egan, and Ali Mallah.

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