Having written and vocalised against a new war in Iraq, I felt that I should support my opinion with action and so took part in Saturday’s “No War on Iraq” peace march here in Toronto, which operated on the same day as similar marches across Canada and other anti-war marches around the world. It was nice to see many people from all walks of life out on the march, from children to seniors, from those of Asian descent to those of Middle Eastern descent. At one point we were told that we were some 10,000 strong, but it did not seem that many to me. Victor has pictures.
Sadly, the rally was exactly what I was expecting. In the midst of placards bearing slogans against a war in Iraq, there were placards condemning other subjects such as the U.S. intervention in North and South Korea, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, multinational corporations, free trade, as well as placards addressing the issues of poverty and unemployment. Why must every public protest, action or rally against a specific practise bring out those who wish to subvert the event towards their own agenda? I attended the event to “vote with my feet” and oppose an impending war on Iraq. When I want to march against poverty and unemployment, I’ll attend a rally which addresses that issue or similar issues.
Before the speeches started, there were a few speakers welcoming the arrivals as well as the various trade unionists in the crowd. The short speech had a serious left-wing bias (the speaker addressed us all as “brothers and sisters”) which I felt worked against what the rally was about. Peace is not simply a left-wing goal, but a global one and I felt somewhat insulted at being fed weak statements which implied that the right-wing was to blame. At the height of the cold war, no doubt communists in the Soviet Union called each other “brother” while warring against Afghanistan as no doubt those in North Korea call each other “brother” today while preparing their nuclear arsenal. To blame war on one ideology or way of life is propagandist as the will to war and its consequences is a disease which touches us all, left-wing or right-wing, rich or poor, east or west, north or south.
Unless the U.S. or U.K. administrations are able to provide a more substantial case for a war against Iraq and receive U.N. support, it is unlikely that Canada will side with the U.S. and join that war. According to an Ipsos-Reid poll, a scant 15 per cent of Canadians said that Canada should join the U.S. if it invades Iraq on its own. Even in the States, a majority oppose a U.S. invasion of Iraq without U.N. support, although over eighty percent are in favour of a war with U.N. backing.