Insight

The Toronto Peace Action Coalition attracted 1,000 protestors to Queen's Park Saturday to demand Canada stop playing junior warmonger. Ever wondered what makes placard-wavers tick


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Elaine McMurray

Sister, Faithful Companions of Jesus

I’m something of a demo junkie. My first demo was in 1980. It was to lobby the Canadian government to include women’s issues in the Charter. I’m praying for world peace. I’m tired of war. At the refugee centre where I work, everyone is dealing with their own pain and hurt. They’ve all fled war or abusive situations. Our government has crossed the line. I’m hoping that we will go back to doing what we do well as Canadians, which is peacekeeping. A lot of people had been saying, “I didn’t know that what we’re doing in Afghanistan is really war.” Now that people are being killed,they’re saying, “Oh, this really is a war. People are being killed.”

Asha McDonough (left) with Helen Coulthard and Alex McDonough (interviewed)

PhD student in political science

We saw a poster on Bloor Street about the protest — right next to another saying that postering is going to be illegal — and decided to come. We’re here on holiday from Birmingham, England. We just wanted to be among these people coming together collectively, spontaneously against what’s happening around the world. Just look at the disproportionate amount of police here for a completely non-violent event. More and more I feel that we’re being denied a political space. We’re not aligned to any political party or trying to push any Trotskyist or anti-imperialist position. The whole discourse has shifted now to the position that everyone who dissents politically is a terrorist or a criminal.

Chris Sarter

Bakery owner

We’re all concerned about human rights. It seems that human rights apply to everyone except Arabs. The other part is the Western media’s portrayal of the whole situation in the Middle East, which seems to be quite biased in favour of Israel. I think the suicide bombings are self-defence. I used to date a Palestinian woman many years ago, and that’s when I first heard about the abuses. When I went to investigate, it was even worse than anything she’d described. I’d like to see Canada put pressure on the United States to limit the amount of military aid it gives to Israel, because that’s going toward killing Palestinians.

Avi Zer-Aviv

U of T student, member of Jewish Youth Against the Occupation

Speaking as an Israeli and a Jew, I know Ariel Sharon doesn’t represent me. I think Israel has to get out of the West Bank. The scariest part of this whole thing right now is the polarization we’re seeing. I was actually a bit worried about coming. I’ve never been to a pro-Palestine rally. But I haven’t seen any “Zionism Is Racism” kind of thing. At a protest last week some friends of mine from Jewish Youth Against the Occupation were actually given a hard time and asked by organizers to take down the star of David on their sign. My father is very involved in the Israeli Jewish community here in Toronto. My mom just came back from the (pro-Israel) march in Ottawa last week. I attend the vigils against the occupation outside the Israeli consulate every Friday. We need to be a lot more united in our call for non-violence.

Sam

Self-employed Palestinian Canadian

This is my first demonstration. My girlfriend saw a poster at Lawrence and Yonge. I’m here to give voice to the Palestinians. Canadians are so brainwashed by their media that lies to them day and night. All humans are equal. Canadians need to know this. Hopefully, people driving by will notice us. Canada should have been more vocal in pressuring Israel to let the UN fact-finding mission into Jenin. But at the end of the day, Canada obeys what the U.S. tells it to do, unfortunately. It’s good there are police here. They’re helping us not get run over. Earlier some people were throwing eggs at us from an apartment building on Bay Street.Pam Frache

Member, Mob4Glob

I feel quite strongly about what’s happening in the Occupied Territories, but I’m also here because of what’s happening with Afghanistan, the threat of war against Iraq and what’s happening in Colombia — the dispersal of the population and the involvement of Canadian corporations in mining and resource development. Whenever people come out, it’s a message not only to political decision-makers but also to all the hundreds of people who share our views. I think a shift is inevitable. I think wars always start off with a lot of support and fanfare, but as they drag on and there are more casualties, support begins to unravel. That’s what history shows.Faces of protest

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