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This is a report on peace activism in Canada last weekend. Because I am an American who has lived in Canada for many years (I hold dual citizenship) I am aware of the fact that little Canadian news gets reported in the U.S. media. That's why I'm offering this brief report on activities in Canada. There were large peace demonstrations in Canada on February 15th: for example, 150,000 in Montreal; 80,000 in Toronto; 30,000 in Vancouver; 10, 000 in Edmonton, and these are almost certainly underestimates. Here in Ottawa, Nowar-Paix, one of the organizers of our local protest says on its website: "Tens of thousands of people braved bone-chilling temperature on Saturday February 15, 2003 to attend rallies held in a number of Canadian cities to show their opposition to a possible war in Iraq and the current sanctions. Here, in Ottawa an estimated 14,400 brave people attended the rally." (The press estimated a much lower number. It was really cold: -26 C. which is about -10 F.)

The liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chretien has voiced its opposition to a go-it-alone preemptive war by the Bush administration. The Prime Minister made this clear last week when he spoke in Chicago and advocated a multilateral approach. Voices to the left of the Liberal government, notably members of the New Democratic Party, including the party's new leader, Jack Layton, have spoken out forcefully in opposition to any military attack on Iraq. Polls indicate that the Canadian public is opposed to war in Iraq.

I went to the demonstration held on February 15, as well as to one held in mid-January. Both times, the crowd was diverse: students, family groups, union groups, Oxfam, religious groups (Christian, Muslim and Jewish), old and young.

Much peace work goes on here, and moreover, although Canada is one of the United States' closest allies, the Liberal government is taking a position against a unilateral U.S./British preemptive war.

Deborah Gorham
Department of History
Carleton University
Ottawa, On.