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      Fighting Back: Cross-Canada antiwar action on the rise in 2023

      By Janine Solanki

      With the new year of 2023 upon us, our world is still facing ongoing brutal imperialist wars and occupations, military interventions and crippling sanctions that the U.S., Canada and their allies impose on oppressed nations. But as imperialist war mongering continues, antiwar resistance also continues and grows. With united action and local, national and international coordination of antiwar and peace activists, the struggle for a world free of war is on the rise.

      The Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network (CWPJN), which was formed in 2020 with 45 organizations as well as individual members, has been part of this growing antiwar movement. Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) and Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice have been active members in the network since its formation and continue to organize with member groups on coordinated actions and campaigns.

      No New Fighter Jets!

      Mobilization Against War and Occupation, as a member of the No Fighter Jets Coalition, joined a weekend of action January 6-8 against Canada’s plan to purchase new fighter jets. The Vancouver action on January 6 garnered much support as well as media coverage on City TV news (see the full report in Fire This Time Volume 17 Issue 1). Despite coordinated actions across Canada and media attention reflecting how people in Canada need funding for social needs, not fighter jets, on January 9, Canada’s defense minister Anita Anand announced the purchase of 16 F-35 fighter jets. This announcement is part of the planned 88 F-35 fighter jets deal, which will cost taxpayers at least $77 billion over the lifecycle of these dangerous and fossil fuel-intensive jets. Actions and activities are continuing to protest the purchase of the F-35 fighter jets, including the parliamentary petition e-4217.

      From January 13-22, antiwar and peace activists across Canada, the U.S. and around the world took part in a week of action to demand an end to imperialist wars, occupations, sanctions and military interventions. Over 90 actions took place in response to the call to action, which was initiated by the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) in the U.S. and supported by the Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network. Considering the recent F-35 fighter jet purchase by the government of Canada, alongside the demands of “No to US/Canada/NATO Wars, Occupation and Sanctions!” protests in Canada also raised the demand “No New Fighter Jets” and “Drop the F-35 Deal”. Read the CWPJN statement for this week of action on page 23 of this issue of Fire This Time.

      A Burnaby, Greater Vancouver action took place on January 21, organized by local CWPJN members and friends including Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice, the Just Peace Committee, Global Peace Alliance BC and the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). The action was strengthened by the participation of other organizations, such as the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), and the East Indian Defence Committee. Protesters held antiwar banners and picket signs across all four corners of a big, busy intersection near a shopping mall and commuter train station, and received the attention of many passers-by who stopped to ask questions, took antiwar literature and stood in support of the protest. Protesters also did a round of marching around the crosswalks, attracting honks of support from cars driving by, while protesters chanted “No New Fighter Jets!”, "Money for health care, not for fighter jets!", “Money for jobs and education, not for wars and occupations!", “Hands off Yemen!”, “Hands off Haiti!” and “Canada Stop Arming Saudi Arabia!”

      No to War, No to NATO!

      Alongside coordinated street actions, the CWPJN also organizes webinars, connecting antiwar activists, organizers and those interested in learning more across borders and time zones. On February 19, the CWPJN organized the webinar “No to War, No to NATO: North American perspectives on Ukraine, Russia, and NATO”. This timely and critical discussion included speakers: Glenn Michalchuk, President of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians and Chair of Peace Alliance Winnipeg; Margaret Kimberly, author and Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report, Coordinating Committee member of Black Alliance for Peace, Administrative Committee member of the United National Antiwar Coalition, and Board of Directors member of the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation; and Kevin MacKay, professor at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario and Vice President of the Mohawk faculty union. The webinar was co-moderated by Janine Solanki, an executive member of Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) and editorial board member of Fire This Time newspaper, and Brendan Stone, co-chair of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War and the co-host of the Unusual Sources radio program. The webinar recording is available to watch online at https://youtu.be/p6BL8O8-5RI

      Canada Out of NATO!

      From February 23-26, 2023 the Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network organized a weekend of action to “Stop the War, Stop NATO” in solidarity with other pro-peace, anti-war actions occurring around the world at the same time. Actions took place in Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, Waterloo, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria, alongside online events and activities. The CWPJN released a statement for the weekend of action, which can be read on page 22 in this issue of Fire This Time.

      On Friday, February 24, local members of the Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network joined together in Surrey, Greater Vancouver, as part of the Stop the War, Stop NATO Weekend of Action. Protesters gathered for the action outside a university campus and local mall, as well as near a busy transit station, and attracted hundreds of commuters who stopped to talk to protesters, listen to speakers, and pick up antiwar literature. The action also received media attention from City TV news and the China Media Group, who both interviewed the organizers and protesters and took extensive footage of the action.

      Protesters held picket signs and banners and chanted, “Stop the War, Stop NATO!” “Canada Out of NATO!” “Fund Peace, Not War!” and “Money for Healthcare and Education, not for War!”. A short program of speakers was held including representatives from sponsoring and participating organizations, including Just Peace Committee, Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO), Global Peace Alliance BC, Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice, the Communist Party of Canada – Marxist Leninist, and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS). Speakers demanded that Canada, the U.S., and NATO stop fuelling the war in Ukraine by funnelling weapons into the country and instead emphasized that the path to peace is through negotiations and an end to NATO.

      Hands Off Yemen!

      March 26 marks 8 years of the brutal US-backed, Canada-armed, Saudi-led war against Yemen, which has imposed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis on the people of Yemen. The Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network is calling for a weekend of action on March 25-26, with a key demand of #CanadaStopArmingSaudi holding the government of Canada responsible for supplying Saudi Arabia with weapons to use against the people of Yemen. Check https://peaceandjusticenetwork.ca/canadastoparmingsaudi2023 for upcoming actions across Canada, and for Greater Vancouver-area actions visit http://mawovancouver.org

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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