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

Mar 20

March 13, 2013 – Week #14

It is gray and cloudy. I’m alone but I’m not lonely at the start of my protest. I’m thinking about two incredibly courageous women who I met in New York during my trip to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women conference last week: Suzuyo from Japan and Nelly from Honduras.

I should explain that I was invited to participate on a panel entitled “Confronting Military Violence: Challenging Militarized Security” organized by the Canadian Voice of Women as part of a side event to the UN’s annual women’s conference. The theme for this year’s conference is “The Elimination of Violence Against Women.” On the panel, I spoke about the research that I had done on sexual harassment and assault in the Canadian military.

VOW Panel_1

After the panel, during the Q&A period, Suzuyo stood up and told us about the 50-year struggle to close down the U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan. Her organization is the Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence. She described the ongoing sexual assaults by U.S. servicemen against Japanese women. She asked “How do we close down U.S. military bases and reduce the military worldwide?” Her question is one we must all answer – how do we demilitarize and stop this violence? Later in the lobby, she came up to me and handed me a 42-page document detailing all the crimes, mostly rapes and murders of Japanese women, committed by the U.S. military personnel in Okinawa since 1945. Her persistence and pursuit of justice for the women of Japan is so inspiring. We shared our hopes for a world without militarism, hugged, and took a picture together.

With Suzuyo

The other woman who I can’t forget meeting in NY is Nelly. She is with Dreamweavers and Women in Resistance, two social justice organizations in Honduras. She was one of the presenters on a panel entitled “Violence, Economics and War.” Through a translator, Nelly talked about the deterioration of human rights in Honduras since the military coup in 2009 that installed the right-wing government of Porfirio Lobo Sosa. She described the prevalence of armed soldiers on the streets and the increase of weapons and violence across the country. Nelly listed prominent journalists and activists who have been killed over the past four years, because of their criticism of the Lobo government. She said it was transnational corporations seeking natural resources that are colluding with the undemocratic national government against the impoverished Honduran people. She also described the U.S. military base in Honduras that has been built on the pretext of the war on drugs. However, Nelly argued that drugs, corruption, and violence have risen despite the base. The U.S. has not brought stability and security to the country, exactly the opposite. She said there is a resource war now in Honduras and it is women and the earth who are bearing the burden of this war.

Nelly speaking

As Nelly spoke, I cried and couldn’t stop. I thought about the Nova Scotia Environmental Network interns (Jackie, Leigh, Sophia, & Becky) who I had working in Tegucigalpa, the capital on Honduras, many years ago with the courageous Dr. Juan Almendares of COHAPAZ. The interns reported back to me about the pollution caused by Canadian mining companies, the militarism, the poverty, and the brave resilience and resistance of the Honduran people as things were slowly improving in their country. Then the coup in 2009, the internship program ended, and we lost contact with our Honduran allies. Now, Nelly has just shared how things are far worse in Honduras. I know the Canadian government and Canadian mining companies are complicit in this horrible suffering of the Honduran people and it breaks my heart.

Today, I’m standing in solidarity with my sisters Suzuyo from Japan and Nelly from Honduras who are working diligently for peace and non-violence.

Kelly and Sharon later joined me in my protest today and because of their enthusiasm, we got 23 honks and 17 waves. Only 1 finger and 4 head shakes.

Mar 13

March 6, 2013 – Week #13

Kelly Heather and Brian

I was not alone for long today. Within a few minutes, four people showed up to stand with me: Kelly, Heather, Brian and Sharon. It was great to have their enthusiastic company.

After sharing what was new in our lives, we talked about the untimely and tragic passing of the President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez. We discussed his incredible legacy of improving the lives of the poor and promoting democratic socialism.

I had just returned the night before from a trip to the United Nations in New York and recalled Chavez’s 2006 speech to the UN’s General Assembly. During his speech, Chavez held up Noam Chomsky’s book Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance and urged everyone to read it. It was just on Monday night, two nights earlier, that I attended a lecture by Chomsky for the first time. He spoke at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan and his lecture was entitled The End of the Vietnam War and the Collapse of Empire?


Before the lecture, there was a reception and I got a chance to take a picture with Chomsky. I told him that I had come from Canada to hear him speak and he frowned and said “What a shame about your federal government.” I agreed and told him how our country is spending billions to build a new fleet of warships. “It’s the largest government procurement in our history”, I explained. He asked, “What’s the pretext?”. “Arctic sovereignty”, I replied. He started to talk about the melting ice and the natural resource wealth buried in the Arctic, but then was interrupted by another fan for a picture – this guy had Chomsky’s face tattooed to his arm!

Chomsky’s lecture was packed and a brief overview of the public lecture is here. In his speech, Chomsky reminded us: “War never ends for the victims” and spoke about the lingering effects of chemical warfare in Vietnam. He ended with a reference to Chavez and a message of hope: “Over 10 years ago, Latin America broke away from U.S. control. And look how it was the only region not to participate in the U.S.’s international program of rendition and torture”, he said. Venezuela and the other South American countries did not appear on the map derived from the Open Society Foundation‘s shocking report Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition. Chavez had often spoken out against U.S. foreign policy and its wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.

[If you haven’t seen the documentaries “The Revolution will not be televised” and “South of the Border” about the incredible progress in Latin America, please do so. If you are in Halifax, you can rent them from Video Difference on Quinpool Road. Watch as well Democracy Now’s coverage of the life and legacy of Chavez].Viva Chavismo!

At our warship protest today, we had 31 honks and 23 waves – another record! Only 3 fingers and 3 frowns.

Mar 05

February 27, 2013 – Week #12

Kelly and Healther

A beautiful sunny day! Today is the 3-month mark of my weekly protest against the warships.

A young military guy drove by in his car, slowed down and said out his window, “You weren’t here last week”.

“Yes, I was,” I replied, “Please read my blog.” I found it interesting that some people are now expecting me to be here at noon every Wednesday.

A CBC news truck and then the CTV news truck drove by but didn’t stop – neither media outlet has covered my protest nor has raised any opposition in their coverage of the (war)shipbuilding contract. Not once since our Bush protest in 2004 has the CBC covered any peace story that I have sent them. Too often, the local CBC has been an uncritical echo chamber for the federal government instead of a public broadcaster.

A few minutes later, Kelly and Heather showed up to stand for peace with me. They were so positive and energetic and would wave at cars and trucks going by while holding up signs. Kelly is an environmental consultant with water expertise. She is looking for a full-time green job that puts her knowledge and skills to use for local communities and the protection of the natural environment. Heather is a strong feminist grandmother who is passionate about federal investment in renewable energy, mental health and poverty reduction. We agreed that the federal government should be investing in those things and not warships.

At 1:00 p.m., I said “OK, protest is over, let’s head over to Julien’s Café now.”

“No,” Kelly replied, “Let’s wait a couple more minutes. I see more trucks coming. Let’s get them to honk so they can hear it in the shipyard!” Sure enough she got the trucks to honk loudly!

We got 23 honks and 17 waves – a record of support! Only 1 finger and 3 angry looks.

Feb 25

February 20, 2013 – Week #11

It was cold, very windy, and pounding down freezing rain. I didn’t want to be outside protesting, but I made a commitment, so I had to stand outside the shipyard. I was alone today in this terrible weather. It made me think about extreme weather that will become more frequent with catastrophic global warming we are facing. Humanity is at critical juncture now.

I thought about the big climate justice rally organized by that was held a few days earlier in Washington D.C. On February 17, the largest climate protest in U.S. history was held outside the White House. Approximately 50,000 protesters gathered to tell President Obama to take action on climate change and to not allow the Keystone XL pipeline that would take Alberta tar sands oil to Texas refineries. Watch this Al Jazeera’s coverage of this important rally.

I believe we have a choice at this juncture that we are at: we are either going to spend our time and resources trying to live harmoniously on a sustainable planet or we are going to kill each other on a dying planet. Warships lead us on down the wrong path.

I got 5 honks and 1 finger.

Trip to Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s Office in New Glasgow and Conservative MP Scott Armstrong’s Office in Truro

I knew that Parliament was not sitting this week, so I expected that the Members of Parliament would be back in their ridings. It’s also budget time and the federal politicians are seeking economic input from their constituents. On Minister MacKay’s web site, he claims to be “inviting comments on how to further improve the effectiveness of government spending.” MP Armstrong wants to “engag[e] Canadians in discussions about their priorities and ideas for achieving the best use of taxpayers’ dollars in the lead-up to the 2013 budget.”

So, a good opportunity to visit Minister of Defence Peter MacKay at his office in New Glasgow and Conservative MP Scott Armstrong at his office in Truro!

I prepared and delivered open letters to Minister MacKay and MP Armstrong about my opposition to the $25 billion warships. My letters listed my economic priorities: education, the environment, health care, affordable housing, municipal infrastructure and First Nations’ communities. I also explained how our country could put more Canadians to work and strengthen our economy by greening it.I reminded them that our country’s national debt has increased to $606 billion and the annual deficit is now $26 billion. One way to reduce the national debt and the annual deficit is to not spend money on things that our country doesn’t need, like warships,and that are not priorities for Canadians. The letters are posted on my web site.

At Peter MacKay Office_2_sm

I drove up to New Glasgow with friends Allan and Dawn. It was great to have their company and their help with the signs. When we arrived in New Glasgow, three media people were waiting for us. After the media interviews, we went inside MacKay’s office. I talked with one of his staff members who told me that MacKay was out of the country. I presented her with my open letter and explained my opposition to the warship contract and my concern about military spending. I also reminded her that I was at the office three years ago to protest the F-35s and that I was proven right by the Parliamentary Budget Office, the Auditor-General and KMPG that the stealth fighters were a financial risk to taxpayers. I promised her that I would be right again about the warships – they would turn out to be an even bigger boondoggle. I also gave her copies of two petitions – one with the signatures of almost 500 Canadians who want the federal government to redirect military spending to tackle urgent environmental and social needs and the other one petition with the signatures of almost 300 Canadians who are opposed to the federal government spending money on new stealth fighters. After our meeting in the office, we went outside to protest along East River Road. I was so heartened to receive quite a few honks and waves (11 in total) and no negativity. People in New Glasgow understand that warships aren’t good for rural communities!


Then, we drove up to Truro to meet with Conservative MP Scott Armstrong. Armstrong was in his office at the time, but refused to come out to meet us briefly in the lobby. We were so pleased that a radio station showed up for an interview. Inside the office again, I presented our open letter to his assistant who seemed distracted and uninterested. We went back outside to the Willow Street sidewalk to protest for a while and I was happy to have a few more honks (7 honks and waves of support, no negativity. People in Truro get it!). We tried again to meet with Armstrong but he still would not meet us. Somebody leaving Armstrong’s office, asked about our signs and told us that she was a Reformer (former Reform Party member) and that Canada should have warships to protect its sovereignty in the Arctic. I told her that we don’t need warships and that we have international law and diplomacy under the UN to solve any sovereignty disputes. It is in fact what Canada is using right now to solve our dispute with Russia in the Arctic Ocean. She disparaged the UN. I figured that if she was a Reformer that she would also be a right-wing evangelical. So, as we were departing, I told her that I didn’t believe that Jesus would use warships.

At Scott Armstrong Office_1_sm

Feb 18

February 13, 2013 – Week #9

Janet and Brian_smI was happy today to unveil my new hot pink signs: “Make Love, Art & Music: A Creative Economy Not Warships” and “♀ Rise against Violence; Rise against Warships.” The signs were made to celebrate Valentine’s Day and the One Billion Rising Global Day of Action. I was also hoping that my provocative signs would get people to think more critically about the difference between an economy based on creativity and love versus one based on war and violence.

A shipyard worker drove past me, rolled down his window, flashed a big smile and said “I like your signs!”

After a few minutes, I had company. Janet who had protested against the F-35s with me on MLK Day in January 2011 showed up. We talked about her research into the Halifax explosion in 1917. She reminded me that the Mont-Blanc was a French munitions ship that collided with a relief ship in the harbour. Janet said that today the risks are much greater because there are nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered warships that come into our harbour that could cause a much worse disaster. Plus, she recently learned that the piloting services in the Halifax Harbour have been reduced, which also increase the risk, so new warships are the last thing that our harbour needs.

Brian also showed up. He started to talk about Muriel Duckworth, a matriarch in the Canadian peace movement who died in 2009 at the age of 100 years old. Brian and Janet remembered when she would demonstrate sometimes alone in the city. “Muriel was so courageous,” they recalled. I remember her protesting with her walker and then later in her wheelchair outside the library as her health deteriorated. She was so committed to peace and social justice and would always show up to rallies and events taking place around the city. It was nice to share memories of Muriel. Muriel’s well-known quote was “War is Stupid.” I know that she would also think that “Warships are stupid.”

We got 9 honks and 1 wave of support and one angry growl from a taxi driver.

Delivering My Cake of Gratitude


After my protest, at 1:00 p.m., I walked down to the shipyard to give a cake that I had made to Karl, the union leader who came to speak to me the week before. It was a heart-shaped cake with pink frosting, fresh strawberries and the word “Thanks” written on it in red icing. I brought the cake and my sign “Make Love, Art & Music: A Creative Economy Not Warships” down to the security gate. At the gate, I propped up my sign to be visible to everyone and asked for Karl. While I was waiting in the security room, an Irving executive came to drop off a brochure about an “Irving scholarship for $1,000” to the guards. The executive said to them, “Your kids can get a scholarship for university.” What a joke, I thought, $1,000 wouldn’t pay for two months of university. I couldn’t say what I was thinking, so instead I said to the guards, “I worked for the Canadian embassy in Norway a few years ago. In Norway, they have free education from primary to PhD, free healthcare, free childcare, a guaranteed annual income, and no domestic poverty. We could have the same in Canada if we kept control of our natural resource wealth like they did and didn’t waste money on warships.” I told them how the Norwegian government and people are wealthy with a surplus fund of $583 billion and no debt because they kept control of Statoil, the country’s oil and gas company. Instead in Canada, we have over $600 billion in national debt and we do not benefit from our natural resource wealth and have no majority shares in any major oil and gas company. Petro-Can was sold off by the federal Liberal and Conservative governments and is now owned by Suncor. I wanted to remind the guards that Irving Ltd. is a wealthy private family business that is getting billions of dollars of our tax dollars from the federal government and hundreds of millions from the provincial government for warships and then Irving is turning around and giving a measly thousand bucks for a university scholarship for employees. If the governments weren’t giving away our tax payer wealth to Irving we could have free tuition for Canadians to go to university. Unfortunately, Karl wasn’t available to accept my cake, so a woman from the office came to take it to the union leader.

February 14, 2013 – Valentine’s Day and One Billion Rising for V-Day

Rising in Halifax

Today is the day of love! Valentine’s Day! It is also One Billion Rising! One billion women rising around the world to say no more violence against women! I decided that I would have an extra protest this week to be in solidarity with this Global Day of Action and to make the links between violence and the warships. I also wanted to have a protest during the busy, after-work traffic so I timed it from 4-5 p.m.

Lucia and I drove down to the shipyard and were so pleased to see two women waiting for us who we didn’t know: Jennifer and Sarah. Jennifer is a student at Saint Mary’s University and Sarah is a student at Mount Saint Vincent University. They mentioned to us that they had been waiting for about 10 minutes before we showed up and they remarked at how it was mostly men leaving the Irving shipyard and the naval dockyard. “This is patriarchy,” I replied pointing to the shipyard and the dockyard behind us. “Building warships are not good for women workers and for women,” I added.

Later, Fiona and Kelly showed up to help with the signs and they stood across the street to get the traffic going the other way. It was so wonderful to have all these women at the protest today and to think about being in unity with sisters around the world striving for peace and equality.

We got 19 honks and 5 waves of support and we had about 8 thumbs down and shouts against us.

Feb 10

February 6, 2013 – Week #8

union-worker-thumb (1)Just as I arrived with my signs, a car drove up. The driver rolled down his window and asked me what I was doing there. I told him that I was protesting the $25 billion warship contract. He shook his head angrily, swore and drove off. Then more cars drove by giving me the finger. For the first time, a driver in a military uniform gave me the finger too. My weekly protest was not off to a good start.

Then, an hour later, just as I was about to pack up my signs and leave, a tall guy came and introduced himself to me.

“Hi, I’m Karl. I’m president of the union. They have been talking about you in there and I wanted to meet you and find out what you are doing,” he said smiling.

Karl Risser is the President of CAW/Marine Workers Federation Local 1.

I was so surprised and pleased to meet him. “Thanks for coming. I’ve wanted to meet you. I’ve been protesting the warship contract here every Wednesday for the last couple of months. I have a web site and a blog,” I replied. I told him that I have been opposed to the new warships since the federal government announced the Canada First Defence Strategy in 2008 and the plans to spend $490 billion on the military over the next 20 years.

Risser asked me why I was opposed to the warships. I told him that the country doesn’t need them – we are not going to be engaging in any naval combat and that our greatest security challenges are climate change and poverty. I was shocked that he readily agreed with me! He asked me what I think they should be building. I said all those construction workers and electricians in there could be building affordable housing, weatherizing homes and buildings, installing renewable energy technologies, expanding mass transit, and fixing municipal infrastructure. He agreed as well and then asked me, “What about ferries?” Yes, I said ferries! I hadn’t thought of that before. Risser said that the workers had  been talking about building ferries and light rail for years but those plans got shelved once the federal government announced the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy in 2010 (which comes out of the Canada First Defence Strategy).

Risser then told me some other interesting and important things:

  • There is a report that was done a while ago about the Irving Shipyard building ferries for the Atlantic Provinces and a high speed ferry in the Halifax Harbour.
  • He said that some of the provinces are leasing ferries from Germany instead of having them built in Canada.
  • When Prime Minister Harper came to Halifax to make an announcement about the shipbuilding program in January 2012, his staff asked that the union flags and banners be removed. Risser insisted that the guys keep their flags and banners visible during the press conference.
  • He believes that Prime Minister Harper does not really care about the shipyard workers and the union – the contract is really not about improving their employment situation.
  • He said the situation for workers at the shipyard isn’t that good but that Irving is doing alright.
  • He believes that the highest number of workers that will be needed will be 2500 workers by 2020, which is much lower than the federal and provincial governments predict.
  • He expects that Foreign Temporary Workers will be needed, will come from poor countries, and will be paid low, non-union wages.
  • He expects that the bulk of the jobs and money will go to Lockheed Martin (which is the biggest weapons manufacturer in the world!)  in the US for the technical systems for the warships.
  • He said that Lockheed Martin is at the shipyard all the time. In partnership with Lockheed Martin, the shipyard is currently working on retrofits for seven warships to help them last another 20 years. So, he doesn’t really think new warships are needed.
  • He expects that Ontario and Quebec will provide some of the steel, but that the major technical systems will be imported from the US by likely Lockheed Martin.
  • CAW supports green jobs and he agrees with me that a National Green Job Strategy would be good.
  • He knows about Germany’s national retrofit program and renewable energy progress. See the Green Economy Coalition web site.
  • He talked about the possibility of a merger between his union the CAW and another big national union that could lead to national general strikes someday and give labour more power.
  • His union – the CAW – is supporting the IDLE NO MORE movement and attended the solidarity march across the bridge two weeks ago.
  • He believes the warships are part of Harper’s militaristic agenda.
  • The only way Harper will change course is if Canadians push the government to change.
  • Risser said more people need to tell the Harper government that they don’t want warships for the federal government to stop the National Shipbuilding plan.
  • He asked me how we can wake up Canadians about Harper’s agenda.

I assured Risser that I’m not against the union and the workers. I want workers to have meaningful, good paying jobs and I want our province to be prosperous but that neither will happen with the warship contract. I said to him that I think the labour unions should have stood up to Harper and said tax dollars should not be wasted on warships because they aren’t a priority. We should be taking action on climate change and poverty not preparing for war. I told him about Van Jones’ Green for All program in the U.S. that puts people to work in the green economy and that there is great potential for this in Canada. More jobs could be created in a green economy than a war economy. I let him know that I have worked closely with union allies in the past on peace issues, such as the Canadian Union of Postal Workers on events and actions for Palestine. He replied at the end that he agreed with most of what I said.

Risser is a very friendly and down-to-earth person. I learned a lot and enjoyed speaking with him very much. We shook hands three times during our conversation.

Finally, my protest today was dedicated to Rosa Parks, the black woman who refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white person and helped launch the Alabama city bus strike in 1955. She was born on February 4, 1913. Parks said, “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

Watch this hour-long February 2013 radio documentary about her Rosa Park’s incredible rebellious life on Democracy Now!

Note: I have a special Valentine’s action for this week’s “Wednesday against Warships” protest that will take place from 12:00-1:00 p.m. on February 13 outside the shipyard. I will also be joining One Billion Rising, which is the Global Day of Action to Stop Violence against Women, on Valentine’s Day (V-Day) February 14 and will be protesting the warships from 4:00-5:00 p.m. I encourage you to join me on both days! See my web site for details:

I got 8 honks of support, 3 waves of support, 4 fingers, 3 thumbs down.

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

Jan 25

January 23, 2013 – Week #6

RobertIt was sunny but very cold today. Within five minutes my fingers were frozen and I was wondering how long I would last outside.

My protest today is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The great American civil rights leader, social justice activist and pacifist. A few years ago, I committed to do something public to keep his memory and message alive. In 1967, Dr. King gave an incredibly profound and prescient speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence” and said,

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.”

Warships are for the pursuit of war. I want Canada to pursue peace in the world. I want the federal government to re-order its priorities and invest in a national strategy for green jobs, affordable housing, First Nations, municipal infrastructure, and early learning not new warships.

One navy person who was driving out of the base rolled down his car window and asked me if I drank coffee. What a nice gesture I thought. I told him “No thank you I don’t drink coffee, but I do love café mochas. Don’t worry though because I’m going to have one at Julien’s Café afterward.” I love Julien’s Hedgehog mocha. It is delicious with espresso, chocolate, hazelnut and foamed milk.

At 12:20, Robert showed up to help me hold my signs. It was nice to chat with him and get to know him better. In his retirement, he is trying to get more involved in the community and social justice issues. We talked about Dr. King and the civil rights struggle in the U.S. Robert suggested that I watch this new documentary about a tragic story of racism in the south in the 1960s called “Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story” I was reminded of Dr. King’s challenge,

“We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

It wasn’t easy for him to hold up the sign with one hand, because he had to keep the other in his pocket. The poor guy forgot his gloves!

We got about 7 honks and 1 finger.

Jan 21

January 16, 2013 – Week #5

January 16 protest SharonThere were many navy personnel entering and exiting the base today. I say “Hello” to everyone who passes me, most of the personnel reply with a “hi” back but don’t say anything more. However, today, I had some, short conversations.

Me: Hello

Young navy person: Hi, what’s this all about?

Me: You are the first person to stop and ask me about what I’m doing.

Young navy person smiles.

Me: I’m protesting the building of new warships. Please check out my web site. It’s

Young navy person: OK.


Me: Hello

Navy person with glasses and beret: Hello, how are you?

Me: You are the first person to ask me how I’m doing.

Navy person chuckles and carries on.


Guy in car: What are we going to do when they come and get us? We need warships.

Me: Who is going to come and get us?

Guy in car doesn’t reply and drives off.


Me: Hello

Tall, thin navy person: Hello, how’s it going?

Me: Fine, but it could be better. I wish the HMCS Toronto wasn’t on its way to the Middle East.

Tall, thin navy person: Yes, I think that the guys would agree with you.

Me: They shouldn’t be going.

At the protest today, I brought a new sign “Canadian warships out of the Middle East”. The HMCS Toronto deployed to the Persian Gulf on January 14th for six months. The frigate will be under US Command and stationed at the American naval base in Bahrain, which is across the Strait of Hormuz from Iran. Canada just instituted new sanctions against Iran. I believe Canadian warships are aiding and abetting US control of the Middle East and should not be there. In my opinion, this is another reason to oppose warships. At 12:50, Sharon walked by on her way to Veith House and helped me hold up my signs for a few minutes.

There were 8 honks of support!