by Julius Arscott
The call for mass anti-war actions on April 9, issued by the U.S.-based United National Anti-war Committee (UNAC), has been heard and answered in Canada. A Jan. 14 membership meeting of the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War responded with a Yes. It is proceeding to organize an outdoor rally, and numbers permitting, a street march in that city.
Members, supporters, and friends of Socialist Action started in September to urge the Toronto coalition to favour a broad demonstration to demand “Canada Out of NATO, NATO Out of Afghanistan Now!” The TCSW is an affiliate of the Canadian Peace Alliance. The CPA endorsed the UNAC actions slated for the U.S. East and West Coasts on April 9 and April 10.
A show of international solidarity with UNAC, and with other participating organizations, including in other countries as well, in opposition to the imperialist wars of occupation in the Middle East, is now posed.
Several Socialist Action members from Toronto and Montreal attended the UNAC conference, along with 800 peace and social justice activists on July 23-25, 2010, in Albany, N.Y. It was the largest U.S. gathering of its kind in over a decade. It enjoyed the backing of 31 national organizations. With the assistance of the Albany-based Sanctuary Media, 17,000 more people witnessed the conference and many of its 30-plus workshops via video-streaming.
The convergence of major forces of the U.S. antiwar movement presents a challenge to the antiwar movement in Toronto, and across the Canadian state. In the wake of the revelations by WikiLeaks of the sheer ugliness and hopelessness of the Afghan military quagmire, with anger mounting over the money earmarked for the purchase of new fighter aircraft, leaks about war crimes condoned by Canadian military officials, and following the three-year extension of Canadian Forces’ intervention in Afghanistan by Prime Minister Steven Harper without even a debate in the House of Commons, opposition to the war is cresting.
Many Canadians want to take to the streets, but for the past three years occasions for united mass action have been few. The CPA and TCSW have waged many important campaigns and actions in that time, such as organizing a cross-country speaking tour by former Afghan female MP Malalai Joya, by protesting at a Toronto appearance by former British PM Tony Blair on Nov. 26, and particularly by conducting the highly successful George Galloway tours. The former British MP attracted international media coverage to the issue of the Zionist siege of Gaza, to the just struggle for Palestinian freedom, and to the popular legal triumph over the Canadian government’s initial bar to Galloway entering Canada. Antiwar coalition leaders seem convinced that now is the time to take the next step.
The call to action in Spring 2011 provides an opportunity to unite in the streets all opponents of Ottawa’s war policies, priorities, and actions. This is the occasion to invite and involve labour unions, the labour-based New Democratic Party, and all social movements that want to put human needs first. Now is the time to build support for the April 9 demonstration in Toronto, and to explore the prospects for similar actions all across the Canadian state.
For more information about the Canadian Peace Alliance, call (416) 588-5555, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 427 Bloor Street West, Box 13, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1X7.
> This article was originally published in the February 2011 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.