WHAT: ACT for the Earth die-in WHERE: Roy Thomson Hall
A half-dozen police watched impassively from behind glass doors on March 15 as black bags were placed over the heads of two protestors kneeling on the sidewalk in orange jumpsuits. The spooky reference to the brutal treatment of prisoners held by the U.S. in Iraq takes place a few feet away from white "chalk and awe" outlines symbolizing the bodies of the thousands of Iraqis who've died since the U.S. launched its war.
Inside, former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell was speaking on Canadian-American Relations to an exclusive crowd of 2,600 who had dished out $200 to $300 each to hear his pitch for continued Canadian support for the U.S.'s other war in Afghanistan.
For the dozen or so protestors carrying signs reading "Colin Powell lied. 100,000 died," the timing of Powell's visit -- on the cusp of the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and as PM Stephen Harper concluded a morale-boosting mission to Canadian troops in Afghanistan -- couldn't have been worse.
Citing principles of international law arising from the Nuremberg Tribunal on "the right and obligation to do everything we can to prevent war crimes," and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which "provides for the prosecution of international war criminals in Canada," ACT for the Earth had sent a letter to police Chief Bill Blair asking that Powell be arrested for misleading the United Nations about weapons of mass destruction to justify the war in Iraq.
The letter points out that Powell no longer has diplomatic immunity "because he is now a private citizen on a private visit." The cops weren't buying it. Powell came and left without a hitch.
As much as Powell has been trying to distance himself from the current U.S. administration, ACT executive director Dylan Penner says the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Reagan adviser and four-star general is still an emissary for the White House and as such should be viewed as a threat to global peace.
"He's here trying to sell the Canadian public on the war in Afghanistan and [now] the war in Iran," said Penner.