Canadian Peace Alliance Sets March 17 Actions

OTTAWA—Forty-three delegates and about 50 observers at the Canadian Peace Alliance’s Nov. 10-12 congress in this city set March 17, 2007, as the date of a pan-Canadian action against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Delegates also adopted a far-reaching resolution on Palestine calling for Israel’s prosecution for war crimes against civilians, dismantlement of Israel’s “security” wall, withdrawal of West Bank settlements, and an end to other discriminatory measures against Palestinians.

Delegates agreed to support UN resolutions 194 and 242, which call for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. After a lively and cordial discussion, delegates voted 21 to 16 to include in the resolution explicit support of the Palestinians’ right of return. Member organizations were urged to attend the fifth Cairo conference against U.S. aggression, to be held March 25-27, 2007.

Among other convention decisions:

• Canada should withdraw all police and military personnel from Haiti and convene a parliamentary inquiry into this country’s involvement in the 2004 coup against Haiti’s democratic government.

• The B.C. government should halt uranium exploration and mining in the province.

• The CPA opposes and will mobilize against any attack or sanctions against Iran.

• The CPA supports full equality and self-determination for aboriginal nations in Canada, including a speedy and just resolution of land claims.

Delegates decided not to modify the CPA’s 2004 resolution on Darfur, which supports humanitarian aid but opposes military intervention in Sudan.

A set of proposed amendments to the CPA’s bylaws was referred to the incoming steering committee for consideration, circulation to member organizations for comments and decision. Delegates decided not to alter the bylaw excluding political parties from membership in the CPA, while reaffirming that individuals from all political organizations are welcome in the Alliance.

Perhaps the most memorable of the three outstanding panel sessions heard moving and compelling presentations by Canadian war resister Francisco Juarez; Andria Hill-Lehr, mother of a Canadian soldier; Chris Teske, a U.S. war resister who arrived in Canada after two deployments to Afghanistan; and his wife Stephanie, an outspoken opponent of this war. The presentations are being posted to YouTube and are well worth watching.

Caucus discussions were held on a wide variety of topics, including student/counter-recruitment, labour, faith communities, and independent media. The Haiti caucus was, in fact, a broadly representative national gathering of the Canada Haiti Action Network.

The convention also included antiwar choral music by Ottawa’s Just Voices and a peace concert featuring Faith in 11 and Mohammed Ali. Delegates took a break Saturday at 1 p.m. to participate in “Close Guantanamo North” at Ottawa’s Human Rights Monument, a protest against detentions and secret trials.