Ever since George W. began beating the war drums, hundreds of thousands of Canadians have come out to anti-war rallies across the country. Vietnam War-era protestors have dug their peace signs out of their attics and found themselves marching with their children beside suburbanites with whom they never thought they'd find common cause.
But I remain saddened, not only by the politics that started the war in Iraq but also by the politics of division within the Canadian peace movement.
Until last week I was campaign organizer for the Canadian Peace Alliance, the umbrella organization for peace groups across the country.
I was asked to resign by the CPA executive after registering my very public concerns on television about the tactics employed by some protestors who were throwing objects at cops at the March 20 rally in front of the U.S. Consulate.
I thought the incident and others like it were obscuring our overall message. Others in the CPA executive thought my comments were undermining the credibility of the CPA and its relationship with the peace movement.
While there are many other important social justice issues that deserve attention, our principal message should be one of peace, and we should not allow ourselves to become distracted while Iraqis are dying, especially by some in our movement committing violent acts themselves.
Provoking the police at anti-war rallies is threatening to hijack our message of non-violence.
This past weekend, a reporter for one of the major networks was allegedly beaten by these militants and lost a tooth. His cameraperson was also assaulted.
On the news that night, it was not the tens of thousands of peace-loving Torontonians marching against the war that the network reported, but that "peace protestors" had violently assaulted both their reporter and the police.
The CPA for more than a decade has had a stated position against violence. It's high time they reiterated it -- for the movement's sake, for the thousands of peace-loving Torontonians and for the young woman who keeps e-mailing me about her family in Iraq and will surely not be able to rest until the war is over.