Regina residents call for no war in Iran, ask government to refocus on climate change instead

Dozens braved the elements Saturday to express anti-war sentiments in light of escalating tensions in Iran. 

Among the calls to action by those gathered outside the federal building on the corner of Victoria Avenue and Scarth Street in Regina was a shift in focus from funding war to funding measures to reduce the impacts of climate change. 

"War is a huge cause of environmental degradation, it's often something that is overlooked when people are talking about the climate crisis," Naomi Hunter said. "Missiles, the military itself is a huge source of carbon going into the atmosphere." 

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Hunter, who ran in the last federal election as a candidate for the Green Party of Canada, called on those who missed Saturday's protest to reach out to their MLAs and MPs to let the government know they stand for peace. 

She said Canada used to be known more for it's work in helping people in the aftermath of natural disasters and she said she'd like to see the country focus on that kind of work again. 

On Saturday morning local time, a military statement was released that said Iran had "unintentionally" shot down Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 due to "human error." 

Hunter responded to the statement by saying it's always the innocent who are hurt by war. 

"It's always women, children, people who get caught in the crossfire who had nothing to do with this," she said.

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While she missed seeing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's most recent press conference responding to the Iranian statement, Hunter said she was happy to hear the prime minister call for moderation in this situation on Friday night. 

George Wooldridge, co-organizer of Saturday's protest, said the event was important because Regina also has an Iranian community and because there were Canadian citizens on the flight that was shot down in Iran. 

"Canada has a chance to turn a tragedy into a mission of peace and that's really a part of the message today," he said. "We have to make those lives mean something." 

Woolridge, like Hunter, called on the government to focus its efforts on fighting climate change, rather than another foreign power. 

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He also called on the government to commit to a promise Trudeau made while campaigning for his first term as Prime Minister: reexamine the decision to close the Canadian embassy in Tehran. 

"It would have made this situation much easier for the bereaved, and for also, I think it would have impacted the investigation in terms of knowing things sooner." 

Woolridge said another anti-war protest will be held in front of Regina City Hall on Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. 

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