Despite high winds and cold showers, scores of anti-war activists in Toronto took to the streets on Saturday, October 15 to demand an end to the ten-year-long war of occupation in Afghanistan.
A coalition of eleven organizations united behind the slogan "Canada Out of Afghanistan Now!"
The protest began with a rally of about 70 people at the corner of Yonge Street and Dundas at 1 p.m. Earlier, Dundas Square 'security' personnel and Toronto police tried to shoo away the first arrivals, but organizers stood our ground, distributed event flyers, and provided a platform for representatives of the sponsoring groups.
Magdalena Diaz chaired the rally, and introduced the speakers, including: Nicolas Lopez of Barrio Nuevo, Azeem of the Canada South Asian Solidarity Association, Tom Reid of the International Bolshevik Tendency, Steve Da Silva of the International League of People's Struggle - Canada, Elizabeth Byce for the NDP Socialist Caucus, Ming and Chanda for the Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee, Barry Weisleder, Socialist Action / Ligue pour l'Action socialiste federal secretary, and Joe Lombardo, co-chair of the United National Anti-War Coalition in the United States.
Participants then literally took to the street, travelling down a car traffic lane south-bound on Yonge Street -- until police directed the parade onto the sidewalk. By the time the march reached King Street, and proceeded eastward to St. James Park, where over 2,000 people gathered for the Occupy Toronto encampment, over 150 people had joined the anti-war action. Chants of "Money for Jobs, Not for War", "Money for Schools, Not for War", along with the main slogan, echoed through the downtown intersections.
In the park, hundreds welcomed the marchers and joined an impromptu speak-out featuring Coalition leaders. Dozens of observers stepped forward to buy buttons bearing the slogan "Canada Out of Afghanistan" and "Capitalism Fouls Things Up".
The October 15 anti-war protest was a somewhat bold, and certainly worthwhile initiative. It was undertaken by the sponsoring organizations chiefly because the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War and the Canadian Peace Alliance declined to do so, despite being asked repeatedly over a five week period.
It is no mean feat for a range of ideologically and ethnically diverse bodies to cooperate openly and respectfully, and to carry out a modest but successful action of the Toronto October 15 type, with most of the organizing taking place in the short span of one week. The experience augurs well for future such endeavors.
One week later, over 1,500 supporters of Occupy Toronto marched to City Hall under grey skies. On Saturday, October 22 the parade made its way along King St., Bay St., to City Hall Square, and following speeches, returned to St. James Park, just east of the financial headquarters of Canadian capitalism. A number of social justice movements, and half a dozen leftist groups, carried signs and banners. They were joined by scores of union activists. The core of the march consisted of the 200 or so denizens of the park encampment, and hundreds of regular visitors to the Occupy Toronto site.
Socialist Action was very visible throughout the afternoon, with members carrying the banner bearing the slogan "Nationalize the banks, steel and auto, Under workers' control!" We sold over 50 copies of SA newspaper, and distributed hundreds of leaflets featuring announcements about upcoming Rebel Films, the YSA, the CREDO public forum on October 29, and a statement by the Greek radical left denouncing the bosses' austerity drive there.
Dozens of people walked in the SA contingent, and chanted with us "Cutbacks? No thanks. Nationalize the banks!", "Money for schools, not for war", and "Hey, hey, ho, ho, (mayor) Rob Ford's got to go".
> The article above was written by Barry Weisleder.