Canadian reactions to war in Iraq

Most Canadians do not want Canadian troops to participate in a new U.S.-led war with Iraq. That opinion is strengthened by protests, open letters, statements by prominent people across Canada and phone-ins.

The official position of the federal government, unchanged since February, is that Canada does not support an armed intervention. But with Canadian troops still in Afghanistan, and the deceptive statements from the government before their deployment last fall, many Canadians want a stronger commitment and actions from Ottawa.

"As you know, it is easier to prevent a war than it is to stop one," the Canadian Peace Alliance has written in an open letter to Prime Minister Chretien. The CPA hopes Ottawa will not support any U.S. aggression against Iraq and suggests the "formation of a Canada-led coalition of states, determined to work for diplomatic solutions to the U.S.-Iraq crisis."

"Canadian workers are watching, with growing disbelief, the U.S. government's preparations for a full-scale attack against Iraq, and they want nothing to do with it," says Ken Georgetti, president of the 2.5 million-member Canadian Labour Congress in a news release. "Canada has influence in international affairs and now is the time to use and exercise that influence."

The Campaign to End Sanctions Against the People of Iraq, whose members helped to lead demonstrations in major cities in early October, helped to organize a phone-in campaign to Ottawa. Sixteen prominent church leaders have sent a letter to Chretien to resist growing pressure in favour of a new invasion of Iraq, and to press all countries to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions, since Iraq is not the only country in violation of them.

The Council of Canadians and Project Ploughshares are among other groups that have spoken out against a new war with Iraq.