Demonstrators hold pro-American rally in Ottawa
CTV.ca News Staff
Sat. Mar. 29 2003
More than 5,000 demonstrators braved pouring rain in Ottawa on Saturday as they gathered on Parliament Hill to voice support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Canadians seeking to ease rising tensions with their southern neighbours carried American flags and pro-U.S. banners.
One banner read: "Thank you Liberal party of Canada for shaming our country."
The relationship between Canada and the United States has slowing been disintegrating over Canada's refusal to join the U.S.-led war in Iraq without United Nations approval.
Many in the U.S. are also upset with anti-American comments made by top Canadian politicians. In the most recent such incident, Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal characterized Bush as a "failed statesman." He sought to clarify those comments on Friday, saying they were misconstrued.
The damage might already be done, and that's why pro-American rallies were also planned for Red Deer, Alta., and Winnipeg on Saturday. On Sunday, similar demonstrations are to be held in Calgary and Vancouver.
"You can agree or disagree with the war, but when they start calling Bush Hitler, a Nazi, it's gone too far, it's gone overboard," said Mike Cancade, an organizer of a rally in Winnipeg on Saturday.
Others, such as farmers, are worried their products won't sell in the U.S. if this anti-U.S. sentiment continues. For vegetable wholesaler Larry MacIntosh, business is down by 20 per cent already.
"They're saying they aren't happy with Canada's position on the war," MacIntosh told CTV News.
He sent a letter to U.S. customers offering his condolences and prayers for U.S. soldiers. However, he doesn't expect things to change soon.
"It's really tough to call a customer out of the blue and say: 'We're from Canada. Wanna buy some potatoes right now?' They're not interested in talking to us," he said.
On Friday, hundreds of people took part in a pro-American rally in southern Alberta. The farming community of Picture Butte, about 100 kilometres north of the border, raised Canadian and American flags.
Calgarian Audrey Hawthorne said she thinks Canada should back the U.S. no matter what and has ordered a custom-made $130 jacket with the U.S., Alberta and Canadian flags sewn over the heart to express her personal support.
"I have a lot of friends in the U.S. and when I go down there to visit them in May, I want to show that support," she told The Canadian Press.
Organizers hope the rallies this weekend will stay peaceful. Last Saturday in Calgary, tempers flared when pro-U.S. supporters crashed a peace rally.
"I just hope that all sides will respect the views of others and stay away from the violence and silliness that goes with it," said Alliance member of Parliament Myron Thompson, who is scheduled to speak at the Sunday rally at the University of Calgary.
With reports from The Canadian Press and CTV's Roger Smith
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