On Saturday March 19th, approximately 100 people joined a picket on the sidewalk outside Liberal MP Christia Freeland's office near Spadina and Bloor in downtown Toronto, calling for Canada to stop participating in the war in Iraq and Syria—whether on a "training" mission or dropping bombs.
This action was part of an international day of action against war and racism that saw large demonstrations throughout Europe demanding the admittance of more refugees fleeing war. There were significant demos in Poland, Spain, Australia, The Netherlands, South Korea, Scotland and Germany and 20,000 rallied in London and to open the borders to refugees. The call for the day of action came from anti-fascists in Greece where tens of thousands marched against racism.
There were anti-war pickets across Canada and Quebec, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. In Toronto the Rally call was Stop the War: Bring the Troops Home Now & Stop Islamophobia. The picket was lively, with ongoing chants of "Out of Syria, Out of Iraq, Justin Trudeau, Bring the Tropps Back", "Healthcare not Warfare" and "Drop Fees, Not Bombs," in between the interventions by a number of speakers who addressed the crowd and passers-by.
Sid Lacombe from the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War argued that the Trudeau government has decided to stop bombing in favour of "training missions," Canadian troops have been involved in many firefights while on training missions—and one soldier, Andrew Dorion was killed last December while on a training mission. He added that it was right for people across Canada and Quebec to oppose the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The current mess in the region has resulted from the disastrous attack and occupation, so participating in more war in the region will only make things worse. Carolyn Egan, representing the Toronto and York Region Labour Council brought a message of determination to combat Islamophobia and all other forms of racism because it is a tool that the bosses use to divide workers from one another.
Faiz Ahmed from the Canadian Federation of Students declared that they were for funding public education and against dropping bombs and critiqued the Liberals for continuing with the $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia who have used their armed forces to suppress the remnants of the Arab Spring.
Sid wrapped up the event by urging all those in attendance to continue to press the Liberal government to cease the court case pending against war resisters and make a provision to allow them to stay.
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