I attended the CANSEC weapons bazaar in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 1 and risked arrest trying to get in to Lansdowne Park to dialogue with the presenters about the seven Nuremberg Principles and whether there were war crimes being committed or potentially being committed. There were 8 of us doing that, led by Matthew Behrens and CPTer Colin Stuart (I was in my CPT hat and T-shirt too) and including Rhea, ?, Jo Wood, Stuart Ryan and others whose names I don’t have. The police in charge refused us entrance and locked the four gates as we sat down in front of them – taking turns at each gate. They threatened arrest for trespass only once and then didn’t carry it out. We began with a die-in and chalking of bodies at 12 noon and then the 8 (originally 9) asked to get in. We ended the ‘sit down’ at one gate at 2pm. The Raging Grannies from Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto plus at least two self accompanied singers, sang songs the whole time at each gate and several official looking ‘men in suits’ had to pass by us and be directed to a gate we were not blocking. Media were there from the Ottawa Citizen, CBC, CTV and possibly others such as Rabble.ca. One of the media reported that there were 75 of us. Richard Sanders of ‘Coalition to End the Arms Trade’ told me that more people came out last year because the event was held at 6 pm. This year’s event began at 8 am with signs and banners and consisted more of retired people and young people. Several people spoke on a very good sound system including a young doctor who was one of the organizers. I don’t have his name or that of the woman who was the MC and organizer. The most well known speaker was M. P. and Green Party leader, Elizabeth May. We decided to end the ‘sit down’ at 2 pm with some songs and speeches rather than let it peter out and because it started to become a conflict with Ottawa police and they were not our target. Several of us presented copies of the multipage ‘Nuremberg Principles Certificate’ to CANSEC organizers by pushing the copies under the fence. The wind cooperated by distributing the copies to Lansdowne Park grounds. Matthew was able to present a copy to one of the CANSEC officials who walked over to the fence as we ended our presence. The whole event was carried out with respect for the dignity of the police and everyone thought they acted in a polite but of course forceful way in preventing our entrance to Lansdowne Park. We had small conversations with the officers, asking them about what they thought the effects of war would be on their children and grandchildren. Kirsten Romaine Jones travelled to Ottawa with Linda and me and she was at the event from beginning to end distributing flyers and talking to people who were entering CANSEC. CANSEC went on the next day and a few people were coming back but I didn’t. On Thursday, June 2 ‘Poets for Peace’conducted a ‘Die-In’ on Parliament Hill as a statement against CANSEC and war. I saw a photo and short article in the Ottawa Metro. I was busy with my grandchildren that day. Actually, it was not until Wednesday morning at Lansdowne Park that I decided to risk arrest along with Matthew, Colin and the others, so when I phoned Linda to tell her, she said, what about your grandchildren (thinking that I may be locked up for awhile) and I said, but I’m doing this for my grandchildren and she was ok with that. Apparently the 6 year old and 4 year old’s ears perked up when they heard that grandpapa was maybe going to jail, so Linda had to explain to them that Grandpapa was not a criminal.
Matthew Behrens and others in Ottawa are also heavily involved defending Hassan Diab from being deported to France on flimsy handwriting evidence for allegedly being part of a bombing of a Synagogue in Paris in 1980. He was fired from his teaching job at U. of Ottawa as soon as the new accusations were made. He lost his case yesterday and is being held for extradition to France pending an appeal by his lawyers. This is to say that Matthew will write a report on CANSEC but is very busy right now.