Iraq: Stop the war in Iraq – ‘Build homes don’t bomb them’ demands Toronto rally

More than 10,000 workers, students and activists marched through Toronto, in Canada, on the 15 March anti-war protest organised by over 40 labour and community groups under the slogan ‘Build homes don’t bomb them’.

Stop work to stop the war. Canada.

‘Build homes don’t bomb them’ demands Toronto rally

The demonstration massed across the street from the US Consulate in Toronto, a besieged, bunker-like building protected by a phalanx of Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Toronto police officers.

Despite this paramilitary presence, the demonstration was a festive affair with giant puppets and colour-adorned protesters. It is as if anti-war protesters are gaining confidence against the post-9/11 repression against dissent in North America.

Mostly home-made signs carried by protesters had slogans such as:

"Stop the war on Iraq, drop the sanctions now"

"Drop Bush, not bombs"

"A village in Texas has lost its idiot"

"Stop mad cowboy disease"

"Hey George, we know you, your father was a killer too"

"No war for oil"

"How much does this war cost per gallon?"

The demonstration was broad in political character and included church groups and liberals. Having said that, there were no slogans putting forward illusions in the role of the UN. This may signify a growing awareness that war must be opposed regardless of what the UN thinks and that the UN is just a congress of capitalist powers. The UN endorsement of the war would not have signified a ‘moral’ decision but simply the success of the US in buying off capitalist leaders. As Barrie McKenna writes in the Toronto Globe and Mail:

"With each passing day, the U.S.-led coalition of the willing, as Mr. Bush has called it, looks more like the coalition of the bribed and the kicking and screaming. Even staunch allies such as Canada are about as reluctant as they can be without actually thwarting the United States."

The march proceeded down Queen Street, past City Hall, through Toronto’s crowded shopping district to the Moss Park Armoury to meet up with an anti-homelessness demonstration organised by "Homes not Bombs" and the "Toronto Disaster Relief Committee’.

The Armoury was targeted not only because of its military significance but also because the huge compound, which has been used in the past as an emergency winter shelter for homeless people, has been closed to the poor this year.

Canada spends 700% more per capita on the military than it does on housing. This block-long, largely unused facility in the middle of one of Toronto’s poorest neighbourhoods could be transformed into affordable housing for 375 people, speakers pointed out.

To further make the link between military spending and the lack of social spending, evergreen trees in front of the armoury were adorned with the names of homeless people who have died of exposure in recent years due to the lack of affordable housing in Toronto.

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March 2003