The terse two-sentence statement issued Tuesday (March 25) is all the Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA) is saying -- at least publicly -- about the sudden resignation of Josh Matlow, a key organizer of the successful series of Toronto street protests against the war in Iraq.Dave McKee, the CPA's co-chair, when reached at his home declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding Matlow's departure except to say that the CPA has "no personal quarrel with him."
The usually loquacious Matlow is also uncharacteristically tight-lipped.
He's decidedly more pointed, however, in criticizing the CPA in his letter of resignation that's making the e-mail rounds.
Looks like the one-time provincial Liberal candidate's desire to steer the CPA away from more militant elements in the peace movement is what ended up doing him in.
McKee agrees that Matlow's been instrumental in raising the CPA's media profile at a time when the peace movement needs it most. The movement, however, is not always so accepting of those who would challenge some of its notion -- particularly around police.
Matlow's troubles began when he told a reporter with CP24 that he thought OCAP protestors were the ones who "provoked" a conflict with the cops outside the U.S. consulate at the March 20 demo. The protestors allegedly threw objects at the cops. At one point, Matlow picked up a megaphone and began chanting, "Our message is for peace, not a fight with police."
Letters of complaint to the CPA from several OCAPers soon followed.
It's unclear what specifically prompted the CPA executive to ask for Matlow's resignation. OCAP did not return calls for comment.
And McKee's own letter to Matlow sheds little light, except that it says Matlow's comments to CP24 "were a highly inappropriate representation of the CPA. The CPA's credibility and its relationship with the Toronto peace movement have been damaged."
While the CPA has been reluctant to offer details, it's been eager to put its own spin on the affair.
The group asked Matlow to issue a media advisory explaining away his resignation as a consequence of his increased responsibilities at Earthroots, where Matlow is also a campaign director. Matlow refused.
"I do not feel comfortable misrepresenting facts to the media," writes Matlow in his letter.
He goes on to compare the actions of some of the protestors to "the same mentality that fuels George Bush's rationale that we need to use violence in Iraq to bring about peace."
There have always been those who worry that social change movements may be marginalized as the result of skirmishes with police.
Members of the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, meanwhile, met Tuesday to discuss how to deal with groups that "decide to go off and do something else," as one insider put it, once the main rally is finished.