By Вen Li
Close to 1,000 Calgarians rallied at the U of C in support of ongoing military action in Iraq on Sun., Mar. 30. Speakers and participants, including veterans and families of armed forces personnel in the war, demanded that Prime Minister Jean Chretien support the Anglosphere nations (the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Australia).
“My wife and I was listening to commentators, not too long before the Iraq event began, and the words that were being spouted were about how everyone in Canada was against the war,” said MP for Wild Rose Myron Thompson, whose 29 year old son is serving with U.S. forces in Kuwait. “We looked at each other with tears in our eyes, wondering ‘are we in this alone?’ Looking at the audience today, we know now we are not alone.”
The audience proudly waved hundreds of Canadian, U.S., U.K, and Austrailian flags during his speech, the Canadian Alliance member criticized Chretien for letting Canada continue to enjoy its liberty without contributing to its preservation.
“I have no animosity towards those who object to the war,” he said. “Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, just give a moment of thanks to the hundreds of thousands of our forefathers who gave themselves so we can live in a world where we can do this.”
Over fifty volunteers were on hand at the event entitled I Am Canadian, I Am A Friend of the U.S, organized by Calgary lawyer and U of C commerce graduate Ezra Levant. One volunteer, Brent Waddell, said he wanted to see Canada militarily support a democracy in Iraq.
“I believe Iraqi kids should not be learning how to use weapons in a country where someone [Iraqi President Saddam Hussein] kills his own people,” he said. “But it takes lives to save lives.”
Waddell was disappointed with the lack of students, who numbered a couple dozen.
“The students should be against the war in Iraq,” he said. “They’re for world peace, but before we get there, we must get rid of the world’s dictators.”
Calgary Southeast MP Jason Kenney echoed his Canadian Alliance party’s view that Canada should do more to support the Anglosphere allies as it has historically.
“In the last couple of weeks, for the first time I was not proud to be a Canadian… not proud of what Jean Chretien did to undo 130 years of Canadian history,” he said. “Jean Chretien, has no right to undermine the history, the tradition of our country. We have to let our allies know that even though Ottawa doesn’t support them, we as citizens do.”
Monte Solberg, Canadian Alliance MP for Medicine Hat also opposed Chretien.
“I want the world to know that Jean Chretien does not speak for me,” he said. “Jean Chretien’s silence in the face of anti-American sentiment is unforgivable. Canada and the U.S. have a blood bond in history through wars in Europe and Korea. We are more than mere allies.”
Like Kenney, Solberg believes that Canada has failed in its commitment to the war effort.
“I shudder to think Canadian freedom is being purchased by American, British and Australian blood in the Iraqi desert, Solberg said”
Volunteer and participant Dallas Rowley also believed that Canada should more strongly support its nearest neighbor.
“We’re an independent nation, we make up or own minds about the war, but we also rely on the U.S. for economics and trade just as they rely on us for resources,” he said.
U of C professor Ted Morton said the positive relationship between Canada and the U.S. comes from a shared interest in peace, but that could be in jeopardy.
“I learned in Israel that if you’re not willing and able to defend your country, that your country won’t be yours for very long,” he said. “In the affluence of peace in North America, we’ve forgotten that.”
Like the other speakers, Morton believes in Canadian sovereignty not to support the war.
“Canada has the right to make its own decision, but has Canada made the right decision?” he asked rhetorically. “It has not.”
During the speeches, some three dozen individuals who opposed the war in Iraq arrived outside of MacEwan Hall. One off-campus participant who opposed the war was removed by Campus Security after arguing with attendees. Another individual who attempted to remove an anti-war sign from a different opponent to war was restrained.