Last week, Canadian peace activist Tamara Lorincz, along with Socialist Action federal secretary Barry Weisleder, made international headlines by disrupting a Toronto Star live stream event that hosted Canada’s Defense Minister Anita Anand.
The Toronto Star event entitled ‘Defending Democracy,’ took place at the Toronto Metropolitan University’s Sears Atrium, and was moderated by columnist Martin Regg Cohn. During the event, activist Tamara Lorincz approached the stage with a large banner that read. ‘Stop Lying. Stop Sending Weapons. Stop NATO’ and ‘Peace in Ukraine.’
Anand asked to be shown the sign, to which she responded by stating, “the aid that we have sent to Ukraine is aid that is in support of democracy, and sovereignty and rules-based international order – that same order that has kept you, everyone in this room, and our country, safe since the end of the Second World War,”
In response to these words, Socialist Action’s Barry Weisleder, who was also in the audience, shouted out ‘Is Ukraine really a democracy?’ adding ‘they’ve banned political parties,’ which the defense minister reframed from commenting on.
Shortly after this interaction, Anand told Cohn that she was going to have to take a break, and immediately left the stage. Upon Anand’s exit, Lorincz began shouting to ‘stop sending weapons to Ukraine,’ which prompted the televised broadcast of the event to pull their feed entirely.
After Anand left the forum for 10 minutes, during which time Lorincz denounced for several minutes the war policies of the Liberal government., campus security confronted Lorincz, who folded her banner and took a seat at the back of the hall.
Upon Anand’s return to complete her interview, Regg Cohn called on Weisleder to ask the first question from the audience. He asked Anand to account for the Minsk II Treaty, agreed upon by Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine. Kyiv, backed by its NATO partners, repeatedly violated the treaty by bombarding the population of the Donbas for eight years, while NATO expanded its forces and its nuclear-tipped missiles to the borders of Russia.
The disruption made both domestic and international headlines, with outlets such as the National Post, Reuters, and even Al Jazeera reporting on the protest action against the Canadian defense minister. Lorincz has disrupted events hosting Anand in the past. Just last month, Lorincz was a part of a small contingent of activists who disrupted an Oakville Chamber of Commerce event that hosted the defense minister, where a similar anti-war banner was displayed.
As originally outlined in the Socialist Action statement on the War in Ukraine, it is imperative to repeat that socialists should oppose all wars, except the class war. Workers and the poor, women and children are the first and foremost victims of war, while a tiny, rich minority profit from the woe it inflicts on the vast majority. The current conflict over Ukraine shows this again. It stems from the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is led by Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa, and their imperialist allies.
The unfolding tragedy can be halted by mass protest actions in every country, just like the one that took place on Friday at the Toronto Metropolitan University.
Tamara Lorincz is a Ph.D. candidate at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University, and a member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. She is based in Waterloo, Ont.
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