Aug 15

July 17, 2013 – Week #31


It was sunny and I was by myself.

A man and a woman walked out of the Irving Shipyard and past me down Barrington Street. I gave them my usual “Happy Wednesdays against Warships” greeting. I felt something odd about them.

A young navy guy then stood beside me at the crosswalk. I said hello and asked him how long he has been in the navy.

“Two years,” he replied.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Great,” he said.

“Why?” I wondered.

“Because I like the guys, they are good to work with,” he explained.

“Have you sailed to the Middle East?” I asked.

“No, just down to Virginia,” he said.

“What do you guys do down in Virginia?” I asked.

All of a suddne, he got all flustered and stammered“I don’t know. I don’t know. I have only been in the navy for a year” and quickly walked away.

Across the street, an attractive, middle-aged woman walked by and gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up. I could feel her solidarity sister vibe.

A young, smartly dressed woman walked out of the DND dockyard and up to the crosswalk. I have seen her before but have never said more than my usual greeting. She was by herself this time, so I asked her how long she has been working at Irving.

“I work for DND and I have been there for five years,” she replied.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Great,” she said and crossed the street.

Then, the odd man and woman who walked by me at the beginning of my protest walked back to the shipyard and passed by me closely. I could see that they were wearing Lockheed Martin lanyards around their necks. No wonder I felt a bad vibe about them!

“Oh, Lockheed Martin is the worst company in the world!” I said to them, “The world’s largest weapons manufacturer. The ship contract is guaranteed to be a boondoggle with Lockheed’s involvement. Look at your failed Littoral Combat Vessel program in the US.”

“The worst company?” the man said incredulously and kept walking.

“Yes,” I shouted, “The worst.”

As I was returning to my car across the street with my signs, a young engineer walked by and said, “I agree with you.”

“You saw me protesting?” I asked.

“Yes, I was watching you as I walked down the hill,” he said smiling and carried on to the shipyard.

I got 14 honks and waves and no negativity.

Dedication – To the memory of Trayvon Martin – the 17-year old black boy in Florida who was killed while walking home with ice tea and Skittles to share with his younger brother. My heart breaks for him and his family. On July 13, George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon because of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. So many black teenagers and men are stopped, frisked, arrested, beaten and imprisoned in the United States. Justice for Black America! Justice for Black Canadians too!

And in solidarity with the work and words of black leader, Dr. Cornel West. West gave an impassioned interview on Democracy Now! about the verdict “Cornel West: Obama’s Response to Trayvon Martin Case Belies Failure to Challenge ‘New Jim Crow’”.  West said that Obama was a “Global Zimmerman” for killing Afghan, Pakistani, and Yemeni children with drones.

Aug 13

June 5, 2013 – Week #26


It was beautiful – warm, sunny weather – perfect for protesting and for World Environment Day!

Today is the United Nations World Environment Day. The theme this year is “Think – Eat – Save: Consider your Foodprint”.

On the UN web site, it states, “The World Environment Day (WED) celebration began in 1972 and has grown to become one of the main vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action. Through WED, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is able to personalize environmental issues and enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development.”

I’m trying to be an agent of change – pushing to change the federal government policy from building warships to building a green economy.

At my protest, I greeted everyone who passed by with “Happy Wednesdays against Warships and Happy World Environment Day.”

I’m compelled to protest the planned new warships precisely because they are not good for the environment. The military is generally not good for the environment. I have a pin that I wear on my jacket with the slogan, “Militarism: #1 Polluter.”

A few minutes into my protest, Jeff came. It was nice to see him again. He picked up the sign “Make Love, Art & Music: No Warships” and held it toward the traffic. We talked about current events. I told him know about the Halifax Peace Coalition’s protest for the Guantanamo detainees outside the US Consulate’s office and the recent protest we had for Bradley Manning. Jeff and I also talked about the International Day of Action against Monsanto, agricultural giant. We discussed how Monsanto’s GMOs and chemicals kill bees and butterflies and threaten pollination and the food supply. I mentioned Monsanto and its link with Lockheed Martin – they share board members.

“Monsanto and Lockheed Martin are killing life,” I said. I told Jeff about the contrast with the plans that I have for my sons’ elementary school garden. “I want to create life and grow things.”

As we were talking, a young, tall DND employee approached us.

“Hi,” he said smiling, “I’ve been meaning to come out to talk to you. I have driven by you many times and wanted to stop, but this is the first chance that I have had to meet you and find out what you are doing. I’m Cameron. I work in Public Relations and Communications for DND.”

“Public relations!,” I chuckled and introduced myself, “They must be talking about me inside.”

“Yes, they are,” he admitted, “How’s your protest been going?”

I told Cameron that I have been protesting for seven months federal government’s planned spending of $25 billion on warships.

“But we need the ships,” he argued. “The ships that we have now are old and need to be replaced.”

“Warships aren’t a priority,” I countered. “The federal government should be spending money on our greatest security challenges: climate change and poverty.” I told him all the reasons that I’m opposed to the warships.

“How long have you been working for DND?” I asked.

Cameron told me that he has been working for the department for about three years. Before his current job, he did an undergraduate degree at Dalhousie University taking philosophy and political science. He told me how he is interested in spiritual philosophy – world religions. I didn’t expect to hear him to say that and thought he might be open to my moral arguments against the warships and the military.

“When you were at Dal, did you go to any Centre for Foreign Policy Studies events?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied, “I remember you. In fact, I was working for DND when Captain Skjerpen of the HMCS Charlottetown came to speak at Dal.”

“Yes, I was at that seminar in 2011!” I exclaimed.

“I know,” he said, “you asked him a tough question about civilian deaths.”

“I also asked about what Canadian special forces were doing on the HMCS Charlottetown,” I added.

Then Cameron, Jeff and I talked about Libya and Canada’s role in the bombing and the naval blockade of the North African country.

Jeff also pointed out that the bombs launched from Canadian warships off the Libyan coast and the bombing of civilian infrastructure, including schools, was a violation of international law.

I told Cameron that Canadians and the Parliament have no oversight of the Canadian navy and the special forces operating overseas and that I was concerned that too much of what the military is doing is illegal.

“I filed an Access to Information request on Captain Skjerpen’s seminar at Dalhousie University. I wanted to know what DND said internally about my questions and comments at the seminar,” I said.

“I suspected that,” Cameron said. “It was my first Access to Information request that I handled.”

“Wow! You processed my ATI!” I exclaimed.

I couldn’t believe we have this connection from Dalhousie and from my Access to Information request filed two and half years ago.

Then, Cameron and I talked about our perspectives on human security. He challenged me that the military makes our country and others more secure. I disagreed and said that I was opposed to the military’s use of weapons and war and that the military really makes things more insecure and that Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq are perfect examples of how the military makes things worse not better. I also argued that Canadians should have a say what the military does and that there should be a new federal white paper on defence and that Canadians should be consulted. The last time the Canadian public had a say in defence policy was back in 1993. Canadian tax dollars pay for the military, so we should have a say.

He seemed to agree with that but added, “We need a military. War is justified sometimes.”

I staunchly disagreed. I told him about the international movement to abolish war and demilitarize. I believed it was possible and that was why I was protesting outside the dockyard every week.

“I understand what you are saying and doing,” he offered with a smile. We talked for half an hour. It was a good discussion and it was incredible to discover how our lives have intersected in the past.

“I have to get back to work,” he said, shook my hand for the second time and left.

Dedication: My protest and post are dedicated to U.S. whistleblower and soldier Bradley Manning. He is the army intelligence analyst who released hundreds of thousands of classified cables to Wikileaks. The massive leak revealed the shocking Collateral Murder video – footage of US soldiers in an Apache helicopter killing innocent civilians and a Reuters journalist in Iraq, the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and the US diplomatic cables. Manning exposed the illegal activities of the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq and the covert machinations of the US state department in other countries.

May 01

April 17, 2013 – Week #19

Boondoggle sign1

I was alone today. It was warmer but still windy.

As I walked toward the shipyard entrance, I could see two police cars blocking the entrance and police officers standing solemnly.

A CBC cameraman walked past me. The Canadian Broadcast Corporation is the country’s public broadcaster.

“What’s going on,” I asked him.

“I don’t know,” he replied.

While I have protest the past few weeks, I have seen the CBC news truck drive by but it never stops to cover my protest, so I decided to ask him, “Why doesn’t the CBC ever cover my protest?”

He just walked by without answering. I watched him set up his camera by the fence. He can’t see anything going on, but he’s there filming while ignoring my protest.

For my protest, I brought a new sign “$25 billion + $14 billion = Boondoggle”.

Last week, the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report entitled Titanic Blunder: Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships on Course for Disaster. The report denounces the federal government’s plan to build the Arctic patrol ships, because it says the design is wrong and the objectives are wrong.

As I protest, I can easily see into the cars driving by on Barrington St. I watch drivers trying to read my signs. Today, two young male drivers enthusiastically honked in support. A city bus driver who regularly drives past me has started to honk and smile too.

Then, a young navy guy walked by and asked grinning, “Did you call in the bomb threat and make me late for work?”

“Do I look like a threat? I’m a peace activist.” I replied.

Later, a middle-aged man crossed the street in front of me.

“Happy Wednesdays against Warships,” I said.

“Happy Wednesday,” he countered. He was wearing Lockheed Martin clothing and walking toward the shipyard.

I couldn’t resist saying to him, “Oh, Lockheed Martin, is such a terrible company. The world’s largest weapons manufacturer.” I have seen the Lockheed Martin trucks drive by but I have never seen an employee of Lockheed Martin walk by until now.

He didn’t say anything back and kept walking.

This is a guarantee: Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the building of Canada’s new warships will definitely make it a boondoggle just like Lockheed Martin’s Littoral Combat Zone warships in the U.S. Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter estimated to cost over $45 billion is widely considered a boondoggle. In time, Nova Scotians, all Canadians, will realize that this warship strategy is a boondoggle too – guaranteed. Read this February 2013 report “Ships Leaking $37 Billion Reflect Eisenhower’s Warning” 

12 honks and waves, 2 fingers and 2 head shakes

Dedication: I’m dedicating my protest today to Sandra Finley, the Canadian who refused to fill our her census because of her opposition to Lockheed Martin’s involvement in our national census.


April 15, 2013 Global Day of Action on Military Spending

Today was the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS). The initiative started three years ago by the International Peace Bureau in Geneva. It is timed to coincide with the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s global military expenditure report and U.S. Tax Day.

Now, there are 25 countries participating and over 100 actions around the world. It is really inspiring to know that today people are standing together and calling for a shift in priorities – for government spending to meet human needs not buy weapons and fund war.

Global military spending is currently over $1.7 trillion. Last year, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, stated, “The world is over-armed and peace is underfunded.” It would cost approximately $400 billion or 25% of what countries spend annually on their militaries to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Instead of spending on armies and weapons, we could eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and ensure every child can go to school.

Every year for GDAMS, the Halifax Peace Coalition and the Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace have organized a demonstration outside the library. We have tried to raise awareness about how much Canada spends on the military, but how little it spends on other federal programs such as Environment Canada, Aboriginal Affairs, Education and Overseas Development Assistance.

In 2012, the Canadian government spent $22 billion on the Department of National Defence and only $1 billion on Environment Canada. There has been a minimal cut to the current military budget, but the federal government has forecast it will spend over $20 billion annually for National Defence over the next three years. By contrast, Environment Canada’s budget will fall to $850 million in three years. As well, the government is still planning to spend approximately $25 billion for warships, $16 billion on fighter jets, and $1 billion on armed drones.

Canada is ranked 14th for highest military spending in the world, but our government is cutting environmental programs and employment insurance. In this country, there are 150,000 people homeless, 15% of children are living in poverty, and there is growing income inequality. Canadians must question whether so many of our tax dollars should be spent on National Defence and so little on the environment and social equality. The greatest human security challenges we are facing are climate change and poverty.

Approximately 30 people showed up today to our demonstration and helped us collect signatures and pass out leaflets. We set up jars on a table labeled with signs “Healthcare”, “Education,” “Women & Children,” “Environment”, “Arts & Culture,” and “Military”. We gave people a quarter and asked them where they would spend their federal money. Like last year, “Healthcare”, “Education,” and “Environment” were people’s top choices.

It is really crazy to me that the federal government with the support of all of the political parties launched a National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy to build warships. The federal government could have launched a National Green Economy Strategy or a National Early Learning & Childcare Strategy or a National Affordable Housing Strategy to help us tackle the climate and poverty crisis. The leaflet that we passed out had a line mentioned the $25 billion for warships. We passed out about 200 leaflets.

I was so glad that the Chronicle Herald came to cover our action. Later, I also did a radio interview with Rick Howe on FM 95.7. Read the Herald story about our demonstration here.

Dedication: Thanks to the International Peace Bureau for its leadership on the Global Day of Action on Military Spending and to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute for producing its reports on military expenditures.


April 22, 2013 – Protest outside of MP Megan Leslie’s Office

Today was Earth Day, so I decided that I would go down to Member of Parliament Megan Leslie’s office in the Halifax north end to deliver an open letter and protest her support for the warships. Megan is the NDP’s Environment Critic and also the Co-Deputy Leader of the federal party.

Megan knows that we are facing catastrophic climate change and increasing poverty, but she and the NDP supported the federal government’s plan to spend $25 billion of our tax dollars for new warships that the country does not need.

I knew Megan would not be in her office today because Parliament is still sitting, so I just gave me letter to her Constituency Assistant Anne-Marie. I showed Anne-Marie the graphs and explained my opposition to the warships and let her know that I hoped Megan would reply. Read my open letter here.

I wanted to publicly challenge Megan’s commitment to the environment and to the poor with my open letter and action. In my letter, I asked her why new warships for the navy are a priority over green jobs, affordable housing and First Nations.

Then, I stood outside Megan’s office for one hour with my signs. There was a lot of foot traffic on Gottingen Street. I passed out my Fact Sheet on Military Spending and said to people walking by “Happy Earth Day! I’m here to call on the MP for Halifax to stop her support for $25 billion warships and instead invest our tax dollars in urgent action on climate change and poverty.”

Most people walking by agreed with me. Across the street, two women clapped in support. “Please tell Megan. No warships,” I called out to them.

Only two men walked by and disagreed with me. They had the same argument: our country needs a military for security, we need warships to protect us, and that the military is important for Nova Scotia’s economy. I rebutted that we could have a strong, green economy instead of a militarized economy and that the real human security comes from safe housing, clean water and air, education and health care.

At the end of my protest, a fellow by the name of Brian stopped to talk to me. He said to me that he felt that the NDP was the only party to support because they are the farthest on the left but he still didn’t think that they were far left enough. If there was a party really committed to peace, he explained, he would vote for it.

I said to him that none of the political parties lead, they follow. It is up to us to push the parties farther in the direction that we want.

5 waves and thumbs up. 2 men opposed.

Dedication: I thought about the rare politicians who speak truth to power: UK MP George Galloway and Iceland’s Parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdóttir. Watch her interview on Democracy Now!

Earth Day

April 22, 2013 – Earth Day Rally

The sunny, pleasant weather brought out a great group for our Earth Day rally at 3:000 p.m. outside the shipyard. Brian, Sharon, Brian B., Alan, Charles, Kelly, Lucia and I stood for an hour with our signs and greeted everyone who walked by with a hearty “Happy Earth Day!”

At this time of the day, I noticed quite a few women drive by in their cars with kids in the back seat into the shipyard and dockyard. I thought that the must be driving in to pick up their husbands after work. I noticed the kids looking intently at our protest with a puzzled look on their faces as they read our signs.

At 3:30 p.m., the workers and the navy personnel streamed out.

A tall, thin middle-aged naval officer stood next time as he waited for the crosswalk. I hadn’t seen him before so I said, “Happy Earth Day. I protest here every Wednesday against the warships. You can go to my web site:”

“I don’t care,” he said flatly without looking at me and crossed the street.

A shipyard worker pulled up in his car, rolled down his window and said to me, “The warships are not just for war. They are for humanitarian aid too. Like in Haiti.”

“No,” I replied quickly. “There so much to say about Haiti. Please contact me and let’s meet for coffee to talk about Haiti.” I couldn’t say everything I wanted to about Haiti, because the driver was blocking traffic into the shipyard.

In 2004, Canada, France and the U.S. orchestrated a violent, military coup against the democratically elected government of Haiti and forced into exile the beloved president and priest of the poor, Jean Bertrand Aristide. The Canadian military’s shameful subjugation of Haiti in 2004 is not atoned by a half-empty Canadian warship after the earthquake in 2010. Warships are for war not for aid.

Canadians must learn the truth about our dishonourable involvement in Haiti, the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere.

14 positive gestures and at least 5 negative gestures

Dedication: To Canadians Jean St. Vil and Roger Annis who have been stong voices for justice for Haiti. To the organizations Canada Haiti Action Network  and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Let Haiti Live!

Mar 27

March 20, 2013 – Week #15

After reading the newspaper this morning, I’m mad. The front page headline is “Irving payroll leans on taxpayers.” The province will pay up to 8.5% of salaries for the (war)shipbuilding project as part of the $260 million loan to Irving. Our poor province with so many Nova Scotians struggling to make ends meet is going to subsidize a wealthy private family company. It only gets worse. In the Business section is the headline “German firm eyes work on ship contract.” The article discusses how representatives of the German Diesel & Turbo manufacturer met with local companies to partner on the (war)shipbuilding program at a daylong ACOA-sponsored event at the convention centre in Halifax. The week before Lockheed Martin had a similar event to attract partners for (war)ship contracts again sponsored by ACOA. It infuriates me to read how the corporate elite are going to enrich themselves like this with our tax dollars to build warships and this is all greased by the tax-payer funded ACOA!

With the snowstorm the night before, I didn’t think anyone would join me at a cold and snowy protest. Good thing I thought because I was still grumpy from reading the Herald. But within a few minutes, Janet came to protest with me. Janet has a great, wry sense of humour and always makes me laugh. Then Kelly and Heather came too and they are so positive. Kelly cheerfully wished one of the navy personnel who walked past us a “Happy Wednesdays against Warships Day” – I loved that. I’m going to say that every week now. It really warmed my heart and made me feel better to be with these women today.

Though we chatted and laughed, we also talked sadly about the 10th anniversary of the illegal U.S. war and occupation of Iraq. We will never forget Canada’s participation in this supreme interational war crime. Canada’s former Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk commanded American troops in that devastated country. Canadian warships supported the U.S. wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Janet said “there should be thousands of people on the street today like there was in 2003.” I agreed. We also talked about the letter that Tomas Young, the dying U.S. veteran who became disabled while serving in Iraq, wrote to Bush and Cheney on the 10th anniversary. Read the story here: “The Last Letter.”  

Tomas ended his letter by writing, “My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours [Bush & Cheney] will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.”

The former Liberal government and all those Canadian military personnel who served in Iraq need their day of reckoning and to beg for forgiveness. Justice for Iraq.

Another record of support – 41 honks and waves. Only 5 fingers and 3 angry scowls and head shakes

Feb 05

January 30, 2013 – Week #7

I was alone on this cold, windy day. My fingers were freezing and my arms were getting tired holding up the signs in the strong wind.

About 30 minutes into my protest, I noticed a shipyard worker standing across the street waiting for the crosswalk light to change. The worker was looking at me intently and smiling. When the walk sign flashed, the worker hurried across the crosswalk and said, “I agree with you. The warships are a bad idea. It is f*%cked in there. It’s a mess. The downtime. They don’t know what they are doing. It’s bad for workers but Irving is doing alright.” I told the shipyard worker that I was glad for the support and said to check out my web site. The worker replied, “I will. I can’t wait to get out of there. It’s f*%cked.”

Just as I was about to leave, a Lockheed Martin truck drove into the shipyard. Lockheed Martin is an American company and is the world’s largest weapons manufacturer. Lockheed Martin’s recent Littoral Combat Ship for the US Navy has been a total failure just like their F-35 Stealth Fighters. Read the recent reports about Lockheed’s wasteful US warship program. Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the Canadian combat vessel program will also be doomed to failure. My motto is “If Lockheed Martin is involved, it’s a lemon.”

I got 5 honks and 2 waves of support and 1 thumbs down.

Trip to Ottawa January 25-28, 2013


I had to go to Ottawa for a Canadian Voice of Women for Peace board retreat on January 26 and 27, so decided to take the opportunity to bring my warship protest straight to Parliament Hill. Before I left, I contacted some peace friends and the media in the capital.

On Friday, January 25, I got off the plane and headed straight for the hill for my protest. To my surprise, Global TV came for a short interview. A local peace activist, Koozma Tarasoff, who I had met the CANSEC arms show protest a few years earlier, joined me. A family from Calgary and a few young people stopped to talk to me and expressed support. Then, Koozma took photos and helped me deliver my letters right to the leaders of the four political parties (Conservatives, NDP, Liberals and Greens). I went into the House of Commons and asked to meet with a representative from NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s office and a woman came down to the lobby to accept my letter, said thanks and gave me her card. Later, a woman from Liberal Leader Bob Rae’s office came down to accept my letter and left. Both of these women listened to me explain my opposition to the warships, but they did not ask any questions or say anything else. I went to the Confederation Building to deliver my letter to the office of Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. Her assistant came down to the lobby and listened, asked questions, talked for several minutes, gave me her card, and then offered us passes to Question Period on Monday, which we accepted. Finally, we took my last letter the Prime Minister’s office in the Langevin Building. Noone from Harper’s office would come down to the lobby. So, the Security Guard in the building told me to leave and put my letter into the Prime Minister’s drop box outside the building (11 Metcalfe).

Koozma on the Hill against warships

On Monday, January 28, I attended the IDLE NO MORE rally on Parliament Hill with members of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. There were hundreds of people at the rally and a lot of media despite the very cold, blustery weather.  I brought my sign “IDLE NO MORE: Invest in First Nations not Warships: No Bill C-45”. Some NDP and Liberal MPs came to the rally to show their support and speak. Afterward, I went up to the several MPs to say that if they were serious about First Nations and poverty, they would not squander $25 billion on warships that our country doesn’t need.

Later, I went into the House of Commons for Question Period. There are signs inside the building that state “Public disturbances are not allowed.” As I was going down the hall to get to my seating area, I passed MP Rona Ambrose, the Minister of Public Works and the Status of Women, I said to her quietly that If her government is serious about First Nations issues, they wouldn’t be wasting money on warships. The government should care about the well-being of Canadians not warships.” Ambrose looked irritated and just said OK. A security guard then escorted me to the gallery. I was wearing a sweatshirt with my “Sink the Ship Strategy” t-shirt underneath. At the end of Question Period, when the MPs starting rising from their seats, I took off my sweatshirt and stood up in the gallery so that my t-shirt message was visible.

At the Ottawa airport in the evening, I noticed that Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons manufacturer, has a big poster in the departure area showing advertising a warship with the caption “World of Trust: Halifax Class Modernization Combat Systems Integration.” What warship propaganda! I thought. Lockheed Martin absolutely cannot be trusted!

Lockheed ship ad_2