Report by Jed Lehman
This past Saturday, our peace rally was a great success! Speakers included: Erin Weir, NDP Member of Parliament for Regina-Lewvan and six community representatives. All were agreed that Canada should withdraw fully from Iraq and Syria. They also agreed that Canada should cancel its arms deal to Saudi Arabia.
MP Erin Weir referred to the invasion of Iraq and blamed that “misguided war” for today’s crisis. “It created this power-vacuum in Iraq that ISIS was able to fill (and) it increased the supply of arms,” he told those gathered. “A decade of bombing in the Middle East has not resulted in peace.”
Master of Ceremonies, Stephen Moore, said: “We replaced the previous government. We want the current government to take a different course, not continue the old ways, and continue to involve Canada in an endless series of wars in the Middle East”.
Florence Stratton, of Making Peace Vigil and PeaceQuest Regina, took issue with the Liberal government’s plans to increase ground forces to train Iraqi soldiers and extend Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria. She stressed that it’s thousands of civilians who bear the brunt of war.
Bob Ivanochko, a local spokesperson for the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians and also an active worker for peace, explained that the AUUC has a history going back almost a hundred years and for most of it has been working for peace. He talked about how war is pushed by the profiteers and warned of the danger of war spilling from one country to another.
Terri Sleeva, community advocate and peace worker, described the present conflict in Syria and Iraq as “imperialism on steroids”. She declared: “We need weapons of mass construction, not mass destruction”. She added that “Canada should not be the war machine Harper created”; that people’s voices matter and that we should remind politicians that “They are working for us”.
Jim Harding, author and social activist, suggested the peace movement needs to make children traumatized by war a top priority. “This conflict is seeding the next one,” he warned. He called for pressure to be put on the federal government and recalled that Prime Minister Chretien had reacted favourably to pressure from the Montreal peace movement in 2003.
Ed Lehman, a member of the Regina Peace Council and PeaceQuest Regina, reiterated the call for Canada to withdraw from Iraq and Syria, and urged Canada to adopt a foreign policy based on peace. He also declared that Canada should break its ties with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which he called a war-making alliance.
The Regina rally was sponsored by Making Peace Vigil, the Regina Peace Council, and PeaceQuest Regina.
MEDIA RELEASE FROM MARCH 19th
Regina Rallies in Support of Peace in the Middle East
Today, at the Regina Peace Fountain in front of City Hall, Regina residents will join Canadians across the country in calling for an end to war in Syria and Iraq, and for their country to be a force for peace in the world.
They will call for an end to endless war and, in particular, for Canada to stop contributing to violence and war in Syria, Iraq and throughout the Middle East and the wider world.
The rally is supported by a variety of groups, including Regina’s Making Peace Vigil, PeaceQuest Regina, and the Regina Peace Council. Speakers at the rally will stress that Canada’s military interventions in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere have not brought about promised peace and justice, but instead have spurred further violence and injustice.
Regina-Lewvan MP Erin Weir, who will speak at the rally, says “the peace movement in Regina and around the world has been warning against misguided western intervention in the Middle East for years. I believe we should listen to what they have to say.”
Florence Stratton, representing Regina’s Making Peace Vigil, says, “Our message is ‘No more endless war.’ The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria should have taught us a lesson. We need to find another way to settle our differences.”
Ed Lehman, speaking on behalf of the Regina Peace Council notes the significance of the rally’s date: “We’re holding this rally on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. We all know how that turned out—the consequences for the people of the region and the wider world have been disastrous.”
Stephen Moore, a local peace activist who introduced the rally’s speakers, takes heart from the support the peace movement has received so far: “When we have successive governments bent on benefiting from endless war and violence—including a growing role in the international arms trade—it’s heartening to see people come out and say, ’No, we want our country to be a force for peace.’”
The rally is sponsored by Regina’s Making Peace Vigil, PeaceQuest Regina, and the Regina Peace Council. Similar events are scheduled for Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Sudbury, Calgary and Vancouver.
For further information, contact the following:
Stephen Moore: 306-539-8853