Canadians Vigorously Oppose War Criminal Bush
In actions organized in Ottawa, Halifax and across the country, Canadians condemned U.S. imperialist chieftain George W. Bush as a war criminal and terrorist, declaring him not welcome in Canada. They condemned the arrogance of the Martin government for inviting Bush against the wishes of the vast majority of the Canadian people and for embroiling Canada in U.S. aggression and state terrorism around the world.
On November 30, some 15,000-20,000 people participated in the lively mid-day action in Ottawa. Thousands also gathered on Parliament Hill for an evening anti-war vigil, followed by a 3,000-strong demonstration to the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau (Hull) where Bush, Martin and some 750 guests attended a formal dinner.
The day's actions began with a student rally at 11:00 am at the University of Ottawa. The students then joined people from across Ontario and Quebec who came by the busloads for the "No to Bush: For Freedom, Justice and Equality!" rally at Confederation Park. Arriving from out of town and converging from throughout the Ottawa-Gatineau area, people streamed into the park with their signs, placards and banners. Students skipped classes while workers booked off sick from work and organized childcare in order to take their stand. Many people were participating in a demonstration for the first time.
Slogans rang out throughout the rally, as well as during the march that followed. Slogans included: Arrest War Criminal George W. Bush! Canadians Want Nothing to Do with a War Criminal! We Oppose the Empire! We Want Self-Determination, Not Occupation! Bush Out of Canada! Bush Out of Ottawa! Bush Out of Baghdad! End the Occupation Now! We Do Not Negotiate with Terrorists, Yankee Go Home! Go Home Bush -- Take Paul Martin with You! Liar-in-Chief -- Go Home! Tell You What George, You Keep the Missiles, We'll Keep the Water! Canadians Demand an Anti-War Government! No to the Annexation of Canada! No to Canada's Participation in U.S. State Terrorism! and many hundreds more.
The MC for the noon rally said that from coast to coast actions were taking place to denounce Bush as a war criminal and to declare that he is not welcome on our soil. Ottawa city councillor Clive Doucet welcomed participants, saying he was happy to have participated in getting the city facilities for the rally. CUPE national president Paul Moist spoke to the right of Canadians to dissent, stating that Canadians join millions in the U.S. who are saying no to the war in Iraq and to missile defence. The Canadian government must listen to Canadians on our determination to maintain our sovereignty, he stated. The issue is Who Decides?, he said. Mohawk activist Clifton Nicholas said that state terrorism began with the genocide against the indigenous peoples. He pointed out that the Mohawk people have a name for all the U.S. presidents from George Washington on down: village burners. It is this same village burning and genocide which the U.S. is carrying out in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world, he said.
Speaking for the Iraq Solidarity Project, Andrea Schmidt recounted her experiences with U.S. state terror in Iraq. She denounced the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, as well as the Canadian government's cooperation with the U.S. in Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. She pointed out that far from Canada not being involved, it is Canadian bullets, made by SNC Lavalin that are being used against the peoples of these countries. Author Naomi Klein denounced the role of the Martin government in further co-opting Canada into the U.S. "war on terror." The Canadian government is providing training to the Iraqi police as the Iraqi face of the U.S. occupation, as "human shields," she said. Marie-Claire Walker sent greetings on behalf of the 3 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress, saying that the CLC does not support the illegal war and occupation of Iraq. Referring to missile defence, she said that working people and their unions consider the militarization of space to be a great threat to international rule of law and peace.
Sophie Harkat, wife of Mohamed Harket who is being unjustly detained under a security certificate along with four other Arab men, denounced the use of these certificates and secret trials. Whether these men will be deported to face torture and death is determined in secret without the defendants having access to the evidence against them, she said. A judge will be determining whether these men have or may at some time in the future commit acts of terror based on secret "evidence" that defence laywers can't see, she emphasized.
A spokesperson from Students Against Bush drew parallels between the Bush government's wars and occupation and the agenda to privatize post-secondary education. He pointed out that the students' struggle for their right to education is linked to the broader struggle of all peoples for their rights. We must stand together in solidarity if we are going to contest power and bring about the changes we need, he stated. A speaker from Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights affirmed the Palestinian people's right of return and denounced the Canadian government's deportation of Palestinian refugees.
Michael Mandel of Lawyers Against the War condemned Bush as a war criminal. He pointed out that by initiating an aggressive war Bush is guilty of crimes against the peace, the most serious of war crimes as set out at Nuremberg after World War II. The Canadian government is shaming us and compromising us by currying favour with a war criminal like Bush, he stated. He announced that members of the lawyers committee were in court at that moment laying charges against Bush under Canadian law.
Participants then poured out of the park, flooding the streets of Ottawa with a sea of flags, placards and banners. The lead banner read: "Freedom, Justice and Equality; No to Bush." Spirited chants filled the air. The thousands of youth put their stamp on the action with their energy and vigour. Many workers participated on their own accord while others came with their unions, including the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Steelworkers from Local 1005 in Hamilton and a busload from the Toronto area council, a delegation from the newspaper section of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union (CEP) from Toronto and members of CAW Locals 444 and 200 from Windsor.
A militant contingent from Montreal's Haitian community participated as part of smashing the silence on the coup d'etat in Haiti and Canada's participation in it. "Liberate Haiti from the Hands of Criminals," "Down with the Coup in Haiti," "Silence Kills in Haiti," "No to the Return of the Army in Haiti," their signs declared.
Throughout the march, bright red flags bearing the logo of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) marked the presence of contingents of the Party's workers, women and youth.
The march stopped briefly passing the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to denounce the Canadian government's attacks on immigrants and refugees as part of Bush's "war on terror."
After reaching Parliament Hill, people continued to the Conference Centre where Bush was scheduled to meet Stephen Harper, to make sure Bush received the message: "War Criminal Bush Go Home!" Participants broke through the first set of barricades west of the Conference Centre. Demonstrators shouted slogans against Bush at the second set of barricades. More and more police kept pouring in, including shield-bearing riot police who donned gas masks. The echoes of barking police dogs could be heard. Despite this attempt to intimidate them, protesters held their ground, continuously working out their exit strategy should the police attack them. A contingent of hundreds of demonstrators then made its way to the barricades east of the Conference Centre. Demonstrators on the west side cheered the other contingent as it approached the barricades on the east side, with the police in the middle. Both contingents shouted "Bush Go Home!" as the motorcade arrived. The action continued as participants waited for Bush to leave for the Museum of Civilization.
At 5:00 pm people began arriving for a mass candle-light vigil on Parliament Hill expressing the stand of the Canadian people for peace. As the sky darkened, the lawn in front of the Peace Tower was lit by flickering candles. A number of people addressed the rally, some returning from the afternoon rally and others who were not able to participate earlier in the day.
Lawyers Against the War announced that a charge had been filed against Bush under Canadian law for torture. Ali Malah of the Canadian Arab Federation stated that people were at this action to affirm their right to have their own stands, to say no to war and yes to peace. A speaker from the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War said that more and more there are two worlds: that of Bush, Blair and Sharon, and our world, the world of the peoples fighting everywhere for justice and peace. MP Carolyn Parrish addressed the rally, saying Canadians will continue to resist Bush. A U.S. war resister -- greeted by chants of "War Resisters Welcome Here!" -- spoke about his refusal to follow illegal orders and to participate in crimes against humanity in the name of "duty." Many others also addressed the rally.
Some 3,000 people once more took to the streets, marching across the Portage Bridge to Gatineau to confront Bush and his hosts as they attended a formal dinner at the Museum of Civilization. Organizations from Quebec led the march with a banner made by the Windsor contingent which read "No to U.S. Crimes Against Humanity! Bush Go Home!" Demonstrators got past the first set of barricades and were faced with a line of police about 200 metres from the museum. There was once again a standoff as protesters shouted slogans against war criminal Bush.
Legal Support Ottawa reported that after the demonstration ended and protesters dispersed, police viciously assaulted some Quebec youth and workers who remained in the area. Of the nine people arrested, four where brutalized by the police before being arrested. Legal Support Ottawa reported that all those arrested on the Ottawa side have been released and there are two people still in custody on the Gatineau side whose bail hearings are on December 2.
Early morning December 1, activists gathered for a "Breakfast with Bush" rally in front of the Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa, followed by a march to City Hall where effigies of Bush and Martin were burned.
Close to 1,000 people from all walks of life gathered at Dominion Square in downtown Montreal to protest the "visit" of war criminal Bush to Canada. The demonstration was organized by the Collective Échec à la guerre "against the war, destruction, poverty, exclusion, racism and fear generated by U.S. policies" as well as "against the economic and social policies which are taking us down the same path in Quebec and Canada."
The demonstration marched down St-Catherine Street to the U.S. Consulate and ended at the building of SNC-Lavalin which is the parent company of SNC-TEC, a Quebec-based ammunition company located in Le Gardeur which is supplying the U.S. army with bullets being used in Iraq.
Pariticipants chanted slogans as they marched: "George Bush -- Shame On You! Daddy Was a Killer Too!", "Bush, Sharon Blair -- War Criminals! -- Martin Is Their Accomplice!", "No To the Deportation of Refugees — Canada Must Have an Open Door Policy!", "C-36 -- a Fascist Law!", "Stop the Lies -- Defend Our Sovereignty!", "What Do We Want? Justice! When Do We Want It? Now!", "Solidarity With the Peoples of the Entire World!", "Bush -- Get Out of Canada!" They also warned Martin not to embroil Canada in the U.S. missile defence program which, they said, poses a further threat to the peoples of the entire world.
Several speakers addressed the demonstration. Gervais l'Heureux, president of the Justice and Peace for Palestine Coalition, condemned the U.S. backing of Israel, as well as the role being played by Canada. Addressing Bush, he said: "You want Palestine without the Palestinians, and Martin is acting like an ostrich with his head in the sand with all his talk about multilateralism at the UN." Nicole Fillion, president of the Ligue des droits et libertés, said that Bush poses the biggest threat to peace and defended the principle of the right to self-determination. She spoke of measures the U.S. government has taken against civil rights, of so-called anti-terrorist legislation which violates the right to life, security, asylum and privacy.
Raymond Legault, spokesperson for Échec à la guerre, denounced newspaper editorials which claim that now Bush has been re-elected president, we must resign ourselves because Canada and the U.S. have a lot more in common than what divides us and attempts to make the crimes being committed by the U.S. and Britain commonplace.
"Lies are being spread," he continued. "There is no reconstruction going on in Iraq -- only more destruction after 11 years of sanctions." He spoke of how since 9/11, people are being detained in the U.S. and of how "through the fascist Bill C-36" the same is happening in Canada. He also pointed out that Canadian companies such as CAE, Bombardier and others are only too anxious to be awarded military contracts by the U.S. Legault ended by raising the importance of mobilizing for the 2nd anniversary of the war against Iraq on March 19. "This is an event which concerns everyone -- start talking about it now. Don't wait to hear it from the media because you may be waiting for a long time." He ended by inviting everyone to sign the letter to George W. Bush prepared by the organization.
A candlelight vigil was held in Toronto across from the U.S. Consulate with the participation of some 300 people. Placards denouncing Bush as a war criminal and declaring him to be unwelcome in Canada were displayed prominently in the street. Speakers condemned the war machine commanded by Bush and demanded that Canada not participate in the aggressive policies of the U.S. around the world, particularly its ballistic missile defence program. One hundred candles were lit on the darkened sidewalk to commemorate the more than 100,000 Iraqis who have been killed by the occupying armies since the invasion and occupation of Iraq began last year.
Well over 300 people filled the street in front of the U.S. Consulate in downtown Calgary with a clear message that war criminal Bush is not welcome in Canada. The minute people arrived they unfurled banners telling Bush to get out of Canada and calling for an end to war and occupation. Immediately everyone began chanting slogans and marching with placards and megaphones in hand. The action began at 5:00 pm at the height of rush hour. Each time there was a light change at the corner of 7th Avenue and Macleod Trail, protesters filled the crosswalk with banners and placards so that thousands of Calgarians going home from work could see the No to Bush messages. Commuters waved and cheered from the C-Trains and motorists showed their support by honking.
Speakers from the Calgary Coalition Against War and Occupation condemned the U.S. war crimes against the people of Iraq and of all humanity, as well as the Martin government's co-operation and participation in U.S.-led invasions and occupations such as in Afghanistan and Haiti. The entire demonstration then marched down Macleod Trail to the Federal Building. Amidst the chanting of the protesters and the horns honking in support, two speakers demanded that the Martin government be held accountable for inviting war criminals to Canada and for the Canadian government's role in assisting the U.S. to establish its new world order all over the globe. The demonstration continued for another hour, ending after a lively march back to the U.S. Consulate.
More than 300 people rallied in Winston Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton on against Bush's "visit" to Canada. The rally, organized by the Edmonton Committee Against War and Racism (ECAWAR), began with spirited chants denouncing Bush and the invitation by the Martin government to this war criminal. To express this firm opposition, the rally was organized as a symbolic trial of Bush for crimes against the peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The trial began with a statement that at the end of World War II the peoples of the world spoke with one voice, saying NEVER AGAIN! The Nuremberg Trials and the Charter of the United Nations established this voice. It was stated that never again can this slaughter and destruction be permitted; that is the law.
Today, the indictment said, we stand representing that stand and that law which expresses all the profound hopes and dreams of the peoples of the world to live in peace, to settle conflicts amongst the nations of the world without the use of force, death and destruction. "We do so recognizing the pressure on the Canadian people to mute their protest or face further economic penalties from the U.S. empire. We stand today with the firm conviction that civilized countries do not base their economic relations on blackmail, fear, intimidation and annexation and we as Canadians do not accept this basis for the relations between our countries. We stand for relations based on mutual benefit, equality and social responsibility.
"In making this indictment, we also issue a warning to Prime Minister Martin whose cowardly stand is an affront to our sovereignty, our dignity, our sense of social responsibility and our stand for peace. We remind you that under Canadian law those who collaborate with war criminals can also be prosecuted."
George W. Bush was symbolically brought before the people, the indictment was read and the people delivered the guilty verdict. The backdrop to the trial was a giant head representing U.S. imperialism. Bush, who throughout the trial insisted that he recognized no international law, then stated that behind him was the full force of the American Empire. At this point everyone gathered around the giant symbol of U.S. imperialism and brought it down. The rally closed with chants, songs and vigorous discussion.
In Vancouver, some 1,200 people participated in a noon rally which was a great expression of the anti-war sentiment of organized workers and people of British Columbia. The people rallied with delegates of the B.C. Federation of Labour at Canada Place and marched to the U.S. Consulate. At the consulate people cheered as a statue of war criminal Bush was toppled. In the evening, a vigorous rally was held at the Art Gallery. As at other demonstrations across the country, many people were participating in such an action for the first time.