Jun 26

May 15, 2013 – Week #23

Judy at Shipyard

A few peple have showed up today to protest with me!

Jeff, Kelly and Sharon came and we decided to have a couple of people with signs on both sides of the street.

Then, I was so pleased to see, Judy, a professor at Saint Mary’s University, join us as well.

She promptly picked the sign “Canadians warships out of the Middle East” and waved it at the cars driving by. Judy is a member of Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) and Canadians, Arabs and Jews for a Just Peace in the Middle East (CAJJP) and has been to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel many times. Judy is one of those rare academics who are active on social justice issues both on campus and in the community. Her husband, Larry, and two adult sons are also amazing activists whom I admire. Larry once said to me, “A family who pickets together ‘stickets’ together.”

In Judy’s email signature, she has the quote by famed feminist Gloria Steinem, “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters…” I have reflected on this quote quite often as I try to raise my two sons.

As we were all standing together protesting, a navy guy drove into the dockyard on a shiny, black motorcycle and pulled over to talk to us. “Hey,” he shouted, “we give you the freedom to protest.”

I walked over to him. “No,” I replied nicely but firmly, “I don’t agree with you. I don’t agree at all that the military gives us freedom.”

“Yes,” he insisted, “The military gives you freedom and security.” He explained that he is in the navy and said that they patrol the oceans and act as international cops.

I disputed his claim that the Canadian military is enforcing international law. I said that the military is too often breaking the law, engaged in illegal activity and ignoring the will of the Canadian public. I discussed how Canada’s special forces, Joint Taskforce 2, and Canada’s participation with the US military and NATO in the Middle East and Africa has no parliamentary or public oversight. The presence of Canadian warships in the Arabian Sea and off the coast of Somalia and South America is provocative and not promoting security in those countries and adversely affecting Canada’s reputation.

“The Canadian military did not give any freedom and security to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya quite the opposite,” I argued.

I then told him about Chuck Wiley, the highest ranking navy personnel to leave the US navy and come to Canada as a war resister. Chuck was the Chief Petty Officer on the USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which was used in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Two years ago, Chuck spoke to audiences across Nova Scotia and revealed the illegal activities he witnessed on the American warship. Chuck served in the US Navy for almost 20 years and left in protest losing his pension because his conscience would not let him participate in war crimes committed by the US military any longer.

“It is the same with the Canadian navy,” I said to the motorcyclist. I explained that there were Canadian special forces, JTF2, on the HMCS Charlottetown off the coast in Libya during the bombing raid and that this Canadian warship was actually accompanying the USS Enterprise in the Mediterranean Sea. I told him that there was Canadian special forces operating alongside the US in Afghanistan.

He tried another tactic, “The Irving contract will be good for jobs.”

“No, it won’t,” I asserted. I tried to explain that the federal government could employ more Canadians in the green economy than with this defence contract.

“I need the job plus I better get to work,” he said.

I assured him that I wanted him to have a good job in a green, creative economy and that I would love to chat more and that he could contact me through my web site demilitarize.ca He nodded and drove off.

Toward the end of the protest, Judy pointed out that the house across the street from the Irving Shipyard was for sale. “Imagine if we bought that house and turned it into a peace office,” Judy said, “We could put a big peace sign on the front lawn facing the shipyard and they would have to see it every day.”

I love the idea – a peace house!

With all the company, the time went by so quickly that I had trouble keeping track of the support and opposition from the cars and people going by. I counted myself 10 honks and 3 swears.

Then, we all went to Julien’s Café and Judy generously bought us drinks and cookies. As we were sitting outside the café, the Nova Scotia Minister of Finance, Maureen MacDonald, and the Minister of Labour, Marilyn More, walked by and said “hello.” I wanted to tell them that I was just protesting the warships but I suspected that they knew that already.

Dedication: In recognition of the dedicated activism of Judy and her family and in solidarity with them to support the Palestinian struggle. I am dedicating my protest to Independent Jewish Voices, Canadians Arabs & Jews for a Just Peace, and the Jewish youth who refuse to join the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and refuse to participate in the brutal occupation of the Palestinians. Check out “Why We Refuse”.


May 19, 2013 Bluenose Marathon

Registration: On Friday, May 17, I went down to the World Trade & Convention Centre with my kids to pick up my registration kit for the Bluenose Marathon. I wore my t-shirt “No Warships: Green Jobs: Demilitarize.ca.”

As we were walking through the exhibition area, a woman from the IRUN booth came up to me and said “Are you running this weekend?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Why,” she asked and passed me a card to fill out.

“I’m running for peace!” I exclaimed. I told her that I was going to run the full marathon wearing my t-shirt against the warships and flash the peace sign all over the city.

“What a great reason to run,” she said. “Can I take a picture of you and tweet it?”

“Yes, absolutely!” I answered and my kids and I smiled for the camera.

Day of the marathon: It was sunny but cold and windy for the race. When I was at the starting line, the announcer asked everyone to pause for a minute of silence to think about the people who were tragically killed at the Boston Marathon and he said that terrorism was never going to slow down runners. I wondered if the announcer ever asked runners at previous Bluenose Marathons to take a moment of silence to acknowledge all the innocent Iraqis, Afghans and Libyans killed by NATO and the Canadian and American militaries during our wars in their countries.

The announcer then asked us to acknowledge the presence of the navy personnel who were at the race today. I could see the group of navy personnel in the starting area and I went to stand nearby them, so that they would see my t-shirt. I wanted them to know that there was somebody who objected to the navy and was not going to give them any deference.

I was really motivated to run that day just to wear my t-shirt through Dartmouth and Halifax and pass hundreds of people on the street. At approximately 28 kilometres, I ran past the Irving Shipyard and down through the dockyard. I flashed the peace sign as I ran. It was nice to see some of my environmental and peace activist friends along the route.

I ran the whole way and finished the windy, hill race in 4:18.