Canada Day at CFB Downsview: Saying to Star Wars, July 1, 2001

(in which some of us are not greeted too fondly, including some who refer to us as copulating posterior exit tunnels (to put it delicately)

Despite gale-force winds that started out the day, a hardy band of 15 souls paraded with banners and placards along the Sheppard Ave. West boundary of Canadian Forces Base Downsview in a protest against Canadian participation in Star Wars July 1.

The clear messages&endash;"Canada: Get Out of Star Wars" and "Homes not Bombs" in brightly coloured banners&endash;visited the guard booth at DCIEM--one of five War Research and Development Canada branches currently working on better and more economical ways of killing people.

The group then walked on to the base and began flyering visitors to the Canada Day Celebrations. Most of "security" was provided by air and sea cadets, a form of child soldiers which Canada has yet to acknowledge violates its commitment to a convention prohibiting child soldiers. Our group from Toronto Action for Social Change was pleased to provide Canada Day Peace Quizzes which allowed the children to test their skills when it comes to the truth about Canada and space warfare.

After wondering where, exactly, to set up shop and hand out their 500 flyers, the answer came quite suddenly near the main entrance to the festivities. Under the orange banner "Soldier For a Day," there was the Canadian Armed Forces dressing up babies and really small youngsters in full army gear&endash;the olive drab outfits and camouflage facepaint. The kids could get their face painted and have a picture taken between two grown-up, fully camouflaged Canadian soldiers, for all of three bucks.

Figuring this is where we were meant to be, we set up our banners and began flyering with our peace quizzes on Canada and space warfare. Responses ranged from slight interest and some really positive responses from those who did not know Canada was involved in Star Wars to those who told us we were essentially a bunch of copulating posterior exit tunnels (to put it delicately). As a half dozen members of Metro police looked on from their strategically positioned command post next door to the armed forces tent, we stood for a few hours completing our task, engaging passersby. The police seemed uninterested in responding to Canada Day organizers' attempts to have us removed.

The protest took place a shy two days after the Canadian Forces launched a massive new recruiting drive. $15 million that could be going to affordable housing to ease the homelessness crisis in this country has instead been earmarked for a year-long propaganda campaign of 60 and 90 second military recruitment ads aimed at kids that will air in Cineplex Odeon and Famous Players and AMC theatres for the rest of the year (another reason to avoid the big box cinemas).

According to a War Dept. press release, the ad campaign is part of a larger psychological war operation to increase acceptance of killing as a career choice. In addition to a new website&endash;, "there will be Canadian Forces recruiters at many pubic events across the country this summer. Visits to schools will be carried out through the school year [and more info] is available by calling (800) 856-8488.

Since the majority of theatregoers over the summer are kids, you might ask why the military is recruiting child soldiers. It's a free call.

Anyone interested in presenting the ugly side of war which such recruiting events are likely to ignore should contact Homes not Bombs, which will only be too delighted to remind folks that beneath the fuzzy images of soldiers handing out blankets, there is, as former Canadian General Lewis Mackenzie reminds us, only one purpose for having soldiers:

In the Globe and Mail, he wrote: "As much as Canadians would like to ignore the fact, the role of a soldier is to kill as efficiently as possible with the resources available once he is ordered to do so by his government. There are many sidelines to his profession that make us all feel warm and fuzzy...But they are all subordinate to one overriding responsibility, and that is to kill on demand."

One of the soldiers present today, who refused to take the peace quiz, was asked how he felt about bombing hospitals, bridges, daycares, apartment buildings, and other civilian infrastructure in Iraq and Yugoslavia. He replied, " Damned proud. I was there both times, and I'd do it again if I had to."

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