By Sandra McCulloch, Victoria Times Colonist, 9 May 2006
A small peace rally at the front gate of CFB Esquimalt Monday protested a multi-national exercise off Victoria.
About two dozen placard-waving protesters circled the crosswalks outside HMC Dockyard at 5 p.m., about an hour after the day-shift has gone home, leaving the nearby parking lots empty.
The target of their protest was Exercise Trident Fury, the largest military exercise to be held on the West Coast of Canada.
But the military contends that they just take orders from Ottawa and any concerns about Canada’s involvement should be directed there.
Four Canadian navy ships are taking part while more than 50 aircraft from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will fly out of Victoria International Airport.
The peace activists object to Canada aligning itself with the U.S. in military exercises, said rally spokesman Ben Isitt. There are also concerns about U.S. aircraft and vessels possibly carrying nuclear weapons.
Many Victoria residents have huge concerns to Canada’s participation in this exercise, said Isitt.
“There’s an argument to be made that the best way to support our troops is to keep them out of harm’s way, whenever possible. I fully support our servicemen and servicewomen but that doesn’t mean that we have to blindly follow every policy that comes out of Washington,” Isitt said.
Rally organizer Joan Russow said she has a wide range of concerns, “that Canada’s display of militarism is provocative, is dangerous and destructive from many points of view, and this exercise should be called off.”
But any such cancellation of Canada’s military must come from Parliament, said a military spokesman.
“This is a political question,” said Lt.-Cmdr. Hubert Genest of the military public affairs office.
“We only do what we’re supposed to be doing. They need to address (their concerns) to the House of Commons, their political leaders.”