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The placard held by the protester outside the Canadian consulate in Boston said, “No War! No Cruise! Canada — Don’t Be Used!”
On July 23rd that message was carried in pickets, vigils and rallies staged in front of every one of the fourteen consulates Canada maintains in the U.S. The message is clear. As anti-cruise protests mount over the coming months, Canada/U.S. solidarity could become the strongest feature of the peace movement. But it won’t happen by itself.
Protests in the U.S. on July 23rd may have appeared to be a spontaneous expression of solidarity, but behind the scene a handful of individuals worked day and night after the announcement of the Cabinet decision to test the cruise.
Two of those individuals, Norman Solomon and Ada Sanchez, deserve some recognition and thanks for their efforts. Solomon and Sanchez staff the National Clearinghouse for the People’s Test Ban in Portland, Oregon. After the umbrella testing agreement was signed in February, they contacted Canadian peace activists to discuss ways in which we could work together to ‘refuse the cruise.’
One of the suggestions raised by Canadians was to hold simultaneous demonstrations on the Saturday following the cruise testing agreement. At that time most of us assumed the agreement would be signed toward the end of the summer and the July announcement took us somewhat by surprise. Nonetheless, Solomon and Sanchez quickly contacted peace groups in every state. The response was immediate and enthusiastic.
There are at least 26 manufacturing plants for air-launched cruise missiles in the U.S., and these plants have witnessed many vigils, rallies and civil disobedience actions over the last few years. Although the cruise testing may be taking place in Canadian airspace, the B-52s that carry the missiles are scheduled to leave from Griffiss AFB in New York state, because the tests are an international issue, peace activists in the U.S. and Canada have recognized the necessity of a coordinated international response.
Along this line, solidarity action on July 23rd provided a practise run for Canada/U.S. Solidarity Days scheduled for December 2nd and 3rd. This call for simultaneous actions to ‘refuse the cruise’ has been sent to over eight hundred U.S. organisations and has already received positive responses. In Canada, CANDIS will issue the call for endorsement to several hundred peace groups.
The emphasis is on solidarity, and in consideration of the differing priorities of peace groups in various regions, the call is carefully worded to suggest that people initiate what-ever actions they feel are appropriate on those days.
Judging by the success of July 23, it is evident that a solid communications network can develop over the coming months to facilitate a decentralized and very successful joint protest.
It’s important that we plan now for actions following the October 22-23 Disarmament Week demonstrations. The December 2 and 3 Solidarity Days should provide the necessary continuity.
The greeting sent to Canadians on July 23 from the People’s Test Ban contained a succinct and encouraging message “… To officials intent on squandering precious resources and human energies by testing new nuclear weapons for inflicting global holocaust, we serve notice that today marks the beginning of a new and expansive unity among the people of the United States and Canada. Together we can stop cruise testing. Together we can stop the arms race.”