First Published: New Canada, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 1972
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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OTTAWA – When U.S. President Nixon arrived at the Governor General’s mansion, on April 13, he was “welcomed” by the angry shouts of NIXON GO HOME-U.S. OUT.
The demonstrators led by the Canadian Liberation Movement (CLM) marched three miles from the U.S. Embassy in a pelting sleet storm to protest Nixon’s presence in Canada.
As the Nixon Motorcade whipped through the gates of Rideau Hall at 40 miles per hour, demonstrators loudly chanted NIXON GO HOME and were prevented from blocking Nixon’s car by Secret Service Police – at least 200 in full view plus paddy wagons lined up along the road – the demonstrators thrust the Canadian flag and the flag of Canadian Liberation across the police cordon and waved them in front of the motorcade.
Earlier at the U.S. Embassy the CLM and the Committee Against the Nixon Visit picketed heard speeches and passed out leaflets saying OPPOSE THE NIXON VISIT to passers-by.
At 5:30 p.m. the CLM led the march to the Governor General’s mansion where Nixon was arriving for a private dinner. Thirty of the forty demonstrators walked the three miles to Rideau Hall in the rain and sleet. They chanted anti-Nixon slogans as they marched and passed out leaflets to people on the streets. Bearing the Canadian and CLM flags and anti-imperialist banners, the orderly marchers were cheered by people along the route.
The only people who came out to see Nixon all the time he was in Ottawa were those who came to oppose his visit.
At the demonstration at the U.S. Embassy Barry Lord, Ottawa chairman of the CLM said, “Nixon is not coming to Canada to negotiate; he is coming to Canada to dictate the sell-out of Canadian resources, to dictate the removal of the production requirements in the auto pact and to arrange with Trudeau how they can deceive the Canadian people.”
“The U.S. flag is not flying over the Embassy door today,” he said. “They moved it to the roof to protect it from the Canadian people.”
Bill Sweet, speaking for Ottawa high school students, said that U.S. control of Canada forced student’s fees up, preventing students from furthering their education.
At 5 p.m. the demonstrators stood and sang “O CANADA” as Robin Mathews unfurled the Canadian flag and raised it on a long pole to fly in front of the Embassy where the Stars and Stripes had previously flown.
The Committee Against the Nixon Visit was sponsored by the CLM and other concerned Canadians. The non-CLM members of the committee were members of the Ottawa Waffle. The Ottawa Waffle had earlier co-sponsored the committee with CLM but withdrew their support after pressure was brought to bear by the Ontario Waffle leadership. The Waffle representatives on the committee continued to work on the committee and provided principled anti-imperialist leadership. In Ottawa this committee was the only one there to tell Nixon to go home when he he arrived and to stay home when he left.
OTTAWA – Hundreds of protesters led by the Canadian Liberation Movement and the Committee against the Nixon Visit broke through police barricades and fought their way through lines of RCMP to march up to the West Block of Parliament Hill and confront U.S. President Nixon on the last day of his Canadian visit.
Demonstrators were prevented from entering the Parliament Buildings by over a thousand RCMP, Ottawa Police and U.S. Secret Service agents – all protecting the chief executive of U.S. imperialism.
Carrying banners declaring “Continentalism is Treason.” “Let’s Build A New Canada”” and “U.S. Imperialism Out of Canada.” demonstrators shouted “Nixon Go Home.“ “Close the Border, That’s the Order.” “1, 2, 3, 4, Trudeau is a Comprador; 5, 6, 7, 8, Canada Must Retaliate.”
Canada’s capital was a city under siege. All roads leading up to Parliament Hill were barricaded. Armed police were posted on the roofs of buildings with the concentration of force at the U.S. Embassy (often referred to as Parliament’s “South Block”). Canadian and U.S. Army helicopters patrolled the skies. On a normally busy shopping day, downtown Ottawa was near deserted – except for the shouts and fierce clamour of anti-imperialist demonstrators in a steady downpour.
At 10 a.m., Nixon and his entourage, including Traitor Trudeau, emerged from the West Block. Shouts of “Nixon Go Home” rose to a crescendo as the demonstration surged forward against the police lines. Police tore one of the CLM banners out of the hands of two of the demonstrators to prevent it appearing on the television cameras-provoking an incident. Mounties jumped into the crowd and tried to beat the demonstrators, but it was they who were beaten off. At this time Nixon’s car sneaked off, down the hill and out to the airport.
Gary Perly, National Chairman of the Canadian Liberation Movement told the demonstrators. “It is we who carry the banner of the Canadian people today. Under the leadership of the Canadian Liberation Movement and its allies, it is we who confronted Nixon while others carefully stayed away.
“You know who we are and they know who we are.” he said. “It is we who lead the struggle here today and must continue to lead it in the future. Today is a great day for the Canadian people. There are greater days and greater victories to come.”
George Haggar. President of the Canadian Arab Federation said, “This is a struggle of the people of Canada against the oppression of U.S. imperialists. It is the people of Canada and they alone who can take control of the country and kick the imperialists out.”
The demonstrators shouted “On to the U.S. Embassy,” re-formed and marched down the hill. Still no sign of the hundreds of “anti-war” demonstrators who had come from Toronto to “confront Nixon” with the Trotskyite Vietnam Mobilization Committee.
The CLM demonstration, now swelled to over 300 people, marched on the U.S. Embassy but were stopped half a block away by roadblocks and barriers behind which hundreds of RCMP and Ottawa police massed to protect the property of the imperialists.
The demonstration moved on Parliament Hill, straight to the main flagpole where the U.S. flag was flying. A CLM member climbed the base of the 30-foot flagpole and tore down the Stars and Stripes and raised in its place the Canadian flag and the flag of Canadian Liberation – a red flag with a gold maple leaf. This was the first time in Canadian History that the red flag has flown over Parliament Hill!
Amid shouts of U.S. out, Nixon out and DOWN WITH U.S. IMPERIALISM, the Stars and Stripes were burned in the Centennial Flame.
Finally, at 11 a.m., after Nixon had long left Canadian soil, the Trotskyite-led “anti-war” demonstration, with the “Canadian“ Party of Labour and assorted other “left” groups in tow, came out of hiding. Their buses had passed the CLM buses on the highway into Ottawa, so when they appeared on the scene two hours too late, they were met with jeers and shouts, “Where were you when Nixon was here? Where were you? Where were you?”
Many members of this group were genuinely surprised to learn that Nixon had left. The Trotskyite diverters had advertised their demonstration as “Confront Nixon in Ottawa” and many of the participants expected to do so. Some said that they’d been informed that the police would not let them demonstrate at 8 a.m. as originally planned. As CLM members investigated further, they found that the Trotskyite VMC had lied to demonstrators telling them that the police “threatened” to arrest them all if they confronted Nixon.
At this point, the anti-imperialist demonstrators decided to inform these people that Nixon had left and the only action to take was to march together on the U.S. Embassy. Ten marshalls were sent and met with pleas from the Trotskyites of “Don’t fight. Don’t fight” – as though ten were going to attack 400!
The VMC was busy “confronting” a papier-mache dummy of President Nixon that they’d brought along. 30 to 40 people were so disgusted with this betrayal and dumb-show that they left with the anti-imperialist demonstration. The “C”PL group, fortified with a contingent from Boston SDS stood by the sidelines waiting their turn to speak.
The Trotskyite VMC was so terrified that their demonstrators would learn the truth about what they’d done that they attacked the anti-imperialists standing in line for the microphone giving a plain-clothesman an opportunity to grab the CLM megaphone which was quickly retrieved as the Trotskyite marshals were repulsed.
One of those who attacked a CLM marshal from behind was a paid organizer for the Toronto Waffle, Joe Flexer. His cowardly action was fully in line with that of his employers Mel Watkins and Jim Laxer who had done everything possible to sabotage the Nixon actions of the CLM and the Committee Against the Nixon Visit. In great contrast was the principled position taken by Toronto NDP Alderman Karl Jaffary who was in Ottawa for the NDP Federal Council meeting and joined the CLM demonstration against Nixon.
While all this was going on, a small band of “Internationalists” who arrived miraculously at the same time as the VMC (though they too arrived in Ottawa at 7 a.m.) were busy chanting in front of the Centennial Flame. When approached in an open and friendly manner by CLM marshals to march on the U.S. Embassy, they announced: “We have our own schedule of activities which does not include marching on the Embassy. We do not believe in fighting the police.” What this really means is anyone familiar with the group’s activities will be amazed at this declaration. They do not believe in lighting imperialism – only “denouncing” it.
In the afternoon, the anti-imperialists returned to Parliament Hill for a rally. Professor Robin Mathews, a leader in the struggle for Canadian Universities, congratulated demonstrators for having successfully raised the issues of the Canadian independence struggle and imperialist oppression while Nixon was in Ottawa.
CLM National Chairman, Gary Perly, reminded everyone that it was the CLM and the Committee Against the Nixon Visit who had confronted Nixon that day. The Trotskyite VMC and the “C”PL who had rallied people under the slogan “Confront Nixon” stood exposed for all to see as betrayers and diverters.
“The people’s struggle in Canada is a National Liberation Struggle,” he said. “And today we have raised that banner for the people of Canada, of the U.S., and of the whole world to see.”
Once again demonstrators were stopped by a wall of police eight rows deep in front of the U.S. Embassy. Gary Perly pointed out that there were hundreds of police protecting the U.S. Embassy while only four were guarding the Canadian Parliament.
One supporter commented, “The police know that they don’t have to protect Canadian symbols from the Canadian people – only the headquarters of the U.S. oppressor.”
The anti-imperialist demonstration marched through the streets of Ottawa gaining support from participants in the rally called by the Coalition Against the Nixon Visit and from passers-by. Singing songs of Canadian Liberation written especially for this occasion and holding high the banners and flags of the Canadian people, including the flags of the Patriots of the two nations in the Revolution of 1837, the marchers returned to a hall nearby for speeches, entertainment and food and warmth.
At the social spirits were extremely high. Canada’s People’s Poet, Milton Acorn read poetry and Cedric Smith, a folksinger from the Perth County Conspiracy sang some of Acorn’s poems and two songs written especially for the Canadian Liberation Movement REVIVE THE SPIRIT OF ’37 and another opposing the Nixon visit. Both Acorn and Smith had come from Toronto to demonstrate all day. They gave on inspiring performance and set a good example of anti-imperialist popular culture.
Errol Sharpe, CLM Ottawa member and co-chairman of the Ottawa Committee Against the Nixon Visit thanked all those members of the Waffle and others who supported the Committee through difficult times. “I want to express special admiration for Esther Mathews the co-chairman with me, who stood by the principle of anti-imperialist unity and worked hard to oppose the Nixon visit even when the greatest possible pressures were applied to stop her.”
Gary Perly reminded the people present that this had been a united effort sponsored by the Canadian Liberation Movement, Waffle members the Waterloo Students Federation, the Native Peoples Against the James Bay Project and the Canadian Arab Federation.
“It is through such principled unity as this that we will win the struggle for Canadian Independence.”
There was great applause as those present felt great strength for the struggle ahead to free our country.
On Saturday, April 15 approximately forty people in Thunder Bay, Ontario, rallied at Inter-City Plaza to oppose the Nixon “visit.” First they heard speeches by spokesmen of the Canadian Liberation Movement and the 85% Canadian Quota Campaign, a member of the Thunder Bay Waffle, and a patriotic young worker.
After the speeches about 25 demonstrators marched two miles with flags and placards to the CN-CP Telecommunications Office in downtown Port Arthur Ward, where they signed a telegram to U.S. President Nixon. The telegram read: “Let us make one thing perfectly clear. Trudeau does not speak for the Canadian people. We will not stand for the sell-out of our country. We will not stand for U.S. interference, domination and control of our country. Canada is for the Canadian people. U.S. imperialists – hands off Canada!”
As they marched through downtown Port Arthur to the telegraph office, the demonstrators, with one of them using a megaphone, chanted, “2-4-6-8 Nixon go home, we’re not the States!” and “2-4-6-8 Canada must retaliate!” At the busiest intersection, in front of Eaton’s Rob MacLeod of the Thunder Bay Waffle quoted William Lyon Mackenzie in the Declaration of Independence of 1837: “Brave Canadians! Do you love freedom? I know you do. Do you hate oppression? Who dare deny it! Then buckle on your armour and put down the villains that oppress and enslave our country.” Margie Wally of the Canadian Liberation Movement read out the telegram to Nixon and invited people to join the march and put their name on the telegram. Numerous leaflets were distributed.
When police claimed the demonstrators were disturbing the peace, they broke into a loud and clear round of O Canada, which they sang all the way to the telegraph office. Motorists and passers-by gave encouragement and some joined the march and signed the telegram.
At the rally at Inter-City Plaza, Margie Wally of the Thunder Bay Canadian Liberation Movement spoke of the economic, cultural and political disasters U.S. imperialism is bringing down on Canada and our people and urged Canadians to unite and fight for our country on all fronts.
She spoke of the desperation of the U.S. in its quest for raw materials and its greed for profits. The proposed NAWAPA (North American Water and Power Alliance) Plan would dam up Canadian rivers flowing north and send our water south into the U.S. maw. Such a scheme she said, would undoubtedly spell disaster for Canada, economically, ecologically and politically. To this Canadians must say No! NEVER! NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WILL WE STAND BY AND WATCH OUR COUNTRY GO DOWN THE DRAIN!
Nixon is coming to Canada to dictate export of Canadian water, a continental energy deal and the removal of Canadian production requirements in the Auto Pact, she said. To U.S. imperialism, we say no.
Margie Wally said that Canadians across the land are fighting back. “The backbone of the struggle for independence and socialism will be the working class. The working people of this country are the most disciplined and self-sacrificing class, and unlike the traitorous Canadian comprador bourgeoisie who make their livelihood from selling out the country, the working class has nothing to lose and everything to gain from the national liberation struggle.
Other speakers included Kathy Copps, chairman of the 85% Canadian Quota Club in Thunder Bay and a member of Thunder Bay CLM who told how students of fighting U.S. imperialism in the universities, and Tony Moran, Vice President of Academics of Lakehead University’s Alma Mater Society who had passed a motion supporting the demonstration in principle. He urged Canadians to stand up for their country and demand their rights as Canadians. Rob MacLeod of the Thunder Bay Waffle and Tim Moran, a worker at a Thunder Bay plant, both expressed their concern that we unite to oppose U.S. imperialism and that we build an independent Canada where the Canadian people determine our own future.
SASKATOON – CLM members in Saskatoon passed out hundreds of leaflets opposing the Nixon visit throughout the city, at the Labour Centre, to the National Farmers’ Union and at the University.
The leaflet exposed what Nixon’s policies have done to Western Canadians: cut wheat sales and prices, closed flour mills and oil refineries, rigged prices, coerced labour unions, undermined education and cut potash exports.
CLM Saskatoon called on the people to free the trade unions and universities from imperialist control and to break the grip of U.S. agri-business.
These activities were well received, while the population of the city boycotted the Trotskyite “End the War” rally called for April 15.
The NDP Provincial Government backed this rally and authorized Waffle MLA John Richards to be its spokesman. The Rally also had the sponsorship of pro-American labour and NDP candidate George Taylor. Despite saturation advertising and official government approval, the people boycotted the meeting – so did the Waffle and NDP rank and file.
This shows that a strong anti-imperialist sentiment is developing in Saskatoon. The Trotskyites have thoroughly exposed themselves: demanding to end the war at the very time when the Vietnamese are in the process of defeating the U.S. and its puppet forces.
The Canadian Liberation Movement says “The Indochinese patriots are driving the U.S. from their lands. Let’s end U.S. control in Canada!”
TORONTO – As U.S. President Nixon’s plane landed in Ottawa on April 13, The Committee Against the Nixon Visit held a rally in City Hall Square to oppose his presence in Canada.
Holding high banners saying “U.S. Imperialism out of Canada,” and “Let’s Build A New Canada” one hundred people gathered to hear speakers from the Committee and the CLM, then march to the U.S. Consulate for continuous demonstrations until Nixon left Canadian soil.
Caroline Perly, a CLM member, told the group that Nixon was coming to Canada not to negotiate but to dictate increased U.S. control. Items on the agenda, she pointed out, included elimination of Canadian production safeguards in the Auto Pact-which means the elimination of 100,000 Canadian jobs a continental energy deal and export of Canadian water to the U.S. But their domination means that they depend on us and that dependence gives us great power over them. We have the responsibility and the capacity to bring down U.S. imperialism.”
Doug Carr, founding President of the Canadian Union of Operating Engineers, explained that Canadian workers are breaking free of control of corrupt U.S. unions that serve the State Department in oppressing the peoples of Canada and the world. George Haggar, President of the Canadian Arab Federation, stressed the unity of the Canadian and Arab peoples in their common struggle against imperialism.
Speaking for the Waterloo Federation of Students, Frank Sturino said it was most important that students’ councils take up the fight against imperialism and Americanization in the universities and unite with groups like the Canadian Liberation Movement to do so.
Representatives from The Native Peoples Against the James Bay Project were present to protest the Nixon Visit and especially the export of water and hydro to the U.S. from the James Bay region which is displacing Native Peoples and threatening Canadian sovereignty.
The rally and demonstrations at the U.S. consulate followed weeks of agitation and organizing in the Toronto area: members of the Committee spoke to high-school classes, held street-corner rallies and spoke at plant gates.
On April 8, the Committee marched through Toronto streets led by Laura Secord and her cow with a banner “Laura Secord Warns Canadians Against the Nixon Visit.”
Laura Secord is the legendary Canadian heroine whose brave actions in the War of 1812 led to a sharp defeat of the U.S. invading army. Overhearing American soldiers quartered on her farm discussing the next day’s surprise attack on Canadian forces at Beaver Dams, she eluded her guards and using her cow as camouflage, walked all night through the woods to warn the Canadian forces.
Thousands of Torontonians saw the parade and received leaflets explaining the grave threats of U.S. aggression today and Canada’s proud history of resistance. Imperialism is always quick to rob the colonies of their history of struggle, and many Canadians of all ages who did not know the story of Laura Secord or its significance told marchers, “This is great, I never understood who Laura Secord was,” and “You’re right – we have to kick those Yankees out again!”
As the actions mounted, support grew. Due to poor planning and inexperience, the continual demonstrations at the Consulate were broken off for four of the planned 33 hours. However, by midnight on the 14th, when the buses were leaving for Ottawa, our ranks had swelled to over 100, and many people were phoning in support.
During the demonstration, one U.S. draft resister entered the Consulate and renounced his U.S. citizenship in protest against the Nixon visit and came out to join the picket line.
A band of “Internationalists” came to the demonstration on the Thursday night to “do their thing” an extremely blatant attempt to draw CLM members and supporters into a fight with the police.
Among them was Susan Herzog, an American in their group who had a deportation order and a warrant out for her arrest on sight. It should be noted that during the CLM demonstration there were as usual about a dozen police out front of the Consulate and another hundred in special vans in the back.
When they arrived, these persons with their Susan Hertzog carried on as though they were demonstrating with the CLM, when suddenly a police paddy wagon, accompanied by carloads of police drove up, rushed out, grabbed Susan Herzog, threw her in the paddy wagon and went charging off. Naturally, all the demonstrators surged toward the paddy wagon in her defense against this police provocation.
What the demonstrators didn’t know was that the real provocateurs were the “Internationalists” who had brought Susan Hertzog to the demonstration for one purpose and one purpose only – to be arrested with lots of publicity.
When CLM members brought this up afterwards and demanded to know why they hadn’t been told in advance what was going on, the “Internationalists” said it was none of their business and that they should denounce political deportations. CLM denounces political deportations. It also denounces self-seeking political stunts that endanger the masses of the people!
With the exception of these political stuntmen, other so-called “left” groups were noticeably absent from the picket line. They completely abdicated the task of organizing against Nixon in Toronto. Again the Canadian Liberation Movement was clearly in the forefront of our struggle against U.S. imperialism.