CANADA: Refugees' rights a feature of Toronto anti-war march

Issue 

BY JEFF SHANTZ

TORONTO — February 15 marked the Canadian anti-war movement's impressive growth. In Toronto, Canada's largest city, between 30,000 and 50,000 people braved bitter cold and icy winds to assert their unconditional opposition to war against the people of Iraq (estimates varied so much because people regularly had to leave the march to seek shelter before continuing).

Not only have numbers of participants increased over each of the last three Toronto demonstrations (the February 15 rally was double the size of the January 18 march), but the composition of the marches has increasingly reflected the diversity of the city's working class.

While the first rallies were largely composed of left organisations and activist groups, the movement has definitely expanded beyond those bounds. The latest demonstration included large numbers of participants from working-class communities across the city, as well as labour organisations.

Of great importance, the anti-war opposition has begun to target the racist attacks on immigrant and refugee communities that have played such a crucial part in the Canadian state's drive for war. February 15 marked the notable debut of the No One is Illegal campaign in Toronto, with a sizeable contingent at the demonstration.

A broad coalition of anti-poverty, socialist, labour and immigrant defence organisations, including the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and Anti-Racist Action, No One is Illegal is beginning to articulate, through public meetings and participation in actions, a mobilised resistance to the Canadian state's racist attempts to divide the working class locally and internationally.

This is especially important given that the federal minister responsible for the government's newly established office of "public safety and security" has identified as his primary goal the creation of "an Australian-style detention system".

As a growing underclass of migrant and refugee labour, including many people who have already fled imperialist-backed wars, faces increased exploitation and criminalisation in Canada, the necessity of the No One is Illegal and anti-war campaigns coming together will be crucial.

From Green Left Weekly, March 5, 2003.
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