A cross-border journey
By Beverly Fay
I personally did not know anyone who went to Vietnam, but my husband and I and our three children did host a number of American draft dodgers who arrived in Toronto during the Vietnam War. The Toronto Anti-Draft Program (TADP – I used to call it “Tadpole”) came into being in the late 1960s. Since we had been protesting the Vietnam War in the Boston MA area, we gravitated to that group when we immigrated to Toronto on November 8, 1969.
During our first trip to Toronto in August, 1969, to visit my husband’s brother, who was attending the University of Toronto, we investigated the possibility of transferring within my husband’s company from Boston to Toronto. With our three children, at that time in grades one, two, and three, we drove a U-haul filled with our belongings, including a bowl of goldfish, to the Canadian border. Since we had arranged for the transfer, rented out our home, and said our “goodbyes,” it seemed like the thing to DO. Determined as we were, we did not even take the exit on the NY Thruway that day in 1969, when we could have gone to Woodstock instead of to Toronto. In August, we visited our sites and, after our stay with my husband’s brother’s family, we rushed back home to plan our return by November 8, the date of my birthday. At the border, the Canadian agent proclaimed: “We have a landing! We have a landing!” They also gave us little slips of paper; mine is still in my wallet.
As we settled into our rented home in Mississauga, we continued to support efforts against the war, especially by accepting the draft dodgers who were more and more arriving from the U.S. I remember one couple who arrived on our doorstep in the middle of a winter storm with only a black garbage bag filled with their belongings. I’m pretty sure that they said that they were from Georgia. They stayed with us for a couple of weeks until more permanent arrangements could be made. Years later, I met a lawyer who had been one of the thousands who came across the border during those times. He then went to school at Dalhousie in Nova Scotia. He said that coming to Canada had been the best thing that he had ever done. As a family, we did what we could to end the war. I’ve read that approximately 50,000 Americans came to Canada during the Vietnam War. “If everyone would light just one little candle…”
I met Ken Sherman when there were only about five of us on the Democrats Abroad Toronto board of directors group. At that time, he had already spearheaded efforts that today have so magnificently evolved. When we handed out literature outside a Bill Maher show at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, he was costumed as Uncle Sam, and I was the Statue of Liberty. Bill used the “f” word in his show many times, but he was still hilarious. I went on to become a Canadian in 1986, and I hold two current passports. I and my three children are citizens of both countries, as are my two grandchildren. I am able to vote in both countries, and I DO!
In the 1990s, I got involved in demonstrations in Maine, specifically, at Bath Iron Works in Brunswick where Aegis destroyers are built – they launch nuclear warheads. Philip Berrigan spent time in jail because of those activities and was put on trial. I remember that a high-profile lawyer came from the Hague to defend him, but the lawyer was not allowed into the courthouse. I became motivated to engage again in anti-war work because of a friend of mine who knew Mr. Berrigan. My later anti-war work was against the Iraq War. As a New Englander born in New Hampshire, I still believe in this motto: “Live free or die.” As Ken Sherman recently told an interviewer: “It is still true that social change comes through grassroots and political organizing.”
In the biography I wrote for the 50th anniversary of my graduation from Laconia High School, I said: “In other locations (such as Boston in the 1960s, Portland and Bath, Maine, in the 1990s, and Orangeville, Toronto, and Hamilton, Ontario, in the 2000s, she might have been seen demonstrating for peace. That work includes promoting absentee voter registration of Americans worldwide.”
Notice of 2018 Annual General Meeting & Election & Bylaws Amendments
The Board of Democrats Abroad Canada invites you to attend your Annual General Meeting
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2018
To inform you about 2017 activities and the accomplishments of your country committee + amendments to the bylaws + to elect the following Board Members to complete a one-year term due to vacancies: Secretary & IT Manager.
The AGM agenda and registration link will follow at a later date.
16 June 2018
2:00 – 4:00 pm Eastern Time
Via WebEx and possibly in-person at some chapters. Look for announcements from your chapter or contact your local chapter chair. Address all other enquiries to Chair, Democrats Abroad Canada: email@example.com
All Members of Democrats Abroad Canada
For Members not yet signed up to WebEx, the video conferencing system used by Democrats Abroad, you will receive information at a later date for a WebEx tutorial and for downloading the necessary software. WebEx has a total capacity of 200 participants so space online is limited.
MORE ELECTION INFORMATION
The electronic ballots will be emailed to members on 01 June. Submit your completed ballot by 11:59PM EDT 15 June. To vote you must have joined Democrats Abroad by 11:59PM EDT 31 May 2018, you must be a member of DACA, a US citizen of voting age and a resident of Canada. A list of nominees and candidate statements can be found on the Democrats Abroad Canada website by clicking here.
PROPOSED BYLAWS AMENDMENTS
Current ARTICLE 4 Officers
4.1 The Officers of the Organization shall be the Country Chair, Executive Vice Chair, two (2) additional Vice Chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, and Counsel. The Executive Vice Chair shall be opposite in gender to the Country Chair. These Officers constitute the Executive Committee of DACA, which shall meet at least quarterly.
The Officers offer an opportunity to broaden representation of the regions of the country. In addition, experience working with the Board or at the national level is an important qualification. Officers are voting members of the Board.
Proposed ARTICLE 4 Officers
4.1 The Officers of the Organization shall be the Country Chair, Executive Vice Chair, two (2) additional Vice Chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, Counsel and IT Manager. The Executive Vice Chair shall be opposite in gender to the Country Chair. These Officers constitute the Executive Committee of DACA, which shall meet at least quarterly.
The Officers offer an opportunity to broaden representation of the regions of the country. In addition, experience working with the Board or at the national level is an important qualification. Officers are voting members of the Board.
Current Article 13 Chapter Representatives
13.1 Each chapter that has a Chapter Chair elected biennially in odd numbered years by the chapter membership and which has one hundred (100) or more verified members may be entitled to one Chapter Representative (“CR”) on the Board. A chapter, which exceeds any of the following thresholds of verified members, shall be entitled to one or more additional CR’s:
400 verified members = 1 additional CR
1,200 verified members = 2 additional CR’s
2,400 verified members = 3 additional CR’s
3,600 verified members = 4 additional CR’s
13.2 If a chapter is entitled to one CR, it shall be the Chapter Chair. If a chapter is entitled to two or more CR’s, the additional CR’s shall be elected at the biennial chapter AGM at which chapter officers are elected. Chapter Representatives so chosen shall take office at the next Board meeting following the DACA AGM and shall serve a two-year term.
Proposed Article 13 Chapter Representatives
13.1 Each chapter that has a Chapter Chair elected biennially in odd numbered years by the chapter membership and which has one hundred (100) or more verified members is entitled to one Chapter Representative (“CR”) on the Board, who shall be the Chapter Chair. A chapter which exceeds the following thresholds of verified members shall be entitled to additional CR’s:
2,000 verified members = 1 additional CR (Total of 2)
4,000+ verified members = 2 additional CR’s (Total of 3)
Proposed 13.2 If a chapter is entitled to two (2) or more CR’s, the additional CR’s shall be the Chapter Vice-Chair(s), elected at the biennial chapter AGM at which chapter officers are elected.
Chapter Representatives so chosen shall take office at the next Board meeting following the DACA AGM and shall serve a two-year term.
Below are the Candidate Statements for the individuals who are standing for election to the Dems Abroad Canada Board at the upcoming AGM for Secretary or IT Manager to fill mid-term vacancies. Additional details will be provided in the AGM Meeting Notice to follow.
DEMOCRATS ABROAD CANADA
Nomination for: Secretary
Marnelle was appointed DACA Secretary in August 2017 to fill the vacancy when the elected secretary resigned.
She is a proud Washington State voter and has resided in Canada, in both BC and Ontario, for over 20 years. She currently lives in the London, Ontario, area and is actively involved in the London & Area DA chapter. Her chapter Chair enthusiastically endorses her for DACA Secretary.
Marnelle attended the May 2017 DA Global Meeting in Washington, D.C. and was instrumental in the planning discussions to form the new global Progressive Caucus (ProDA) within DA for which she now serves as a founding steering committee member.
Marnelle represented DA as an attendee at both the 2017 People’s Summit in Chicago and the inaugural Women’s Convention (associated with the Women’s March in D.C.) in Detroit.
Marnelle also represented DA Canada and ProDA at the 2018 DA America’s Regional Meeting in Costa Rica, where she presented on both ProDA and the Women’s Caucus, of which she is also a member.
Marnelle has participated in numerous marches, talks and special events with DA in Toronto, including the 2018 Women’s March. She also participated in the bus trip from Canada to Washington, D.C. for the March for Our Lives.
Marnelle’s favourite DA-related activity, however, would have to be liberating the DA donkey from a warehouse outside Philadelphia in a sketchy cargo van with Ed Ungar - and transporting it across the Canadian border without any issues! The DA donkey can often be found at GOTV events in the Toronto area.
Marnelle has a background in social work centred on an anti-oppression framework, and she is also a lawyer. Her legal practice has focused on child protection law for the last 12 years, including representing children, as an agent of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.
She is a past Regional Director, Vice-Chair and Acting Chair for the Organization of Counsel for Children’s Aid Societies. She is Chair of her local cycling club and sits on the Board of the Ontario Cycling Association.
At present, Marnelle is actively involved in organizing the 2019 Democrats Abroad Global Meeting in Washington, D.C.
Nomination for: Secretary
I have been living in Ontario Canada since November of 2000. I became a citizen of Canada in 2002.
I maintain my nursing license in both Minnesota and Ontario. I have been active in the democratic party since 18 years of age and served as campaign staff for the Minnesota Jesse Jackson campaigns along with Senator Paul Wellstone.
Experience which is pertinent to this position is listed below.
• LHIN Health Professional Advisory Committee
• Council of the College of Nurses of Ontario, elected member assigned to the Registration
Committee, finishing my term in June 2014
• Rehab/CCC Advisory Committee member at CNO in 2014
• RPNAO member and serve as VP of the IB SIG group, current
• Gerontological Nursing Association Ontario, President NE Chapter
• Gerontology Professionals of Canada LinkedIn Group, Manager
• White Mountain Academy Board of Directors, Secretary
• Elliot Lake Library Board, Vice President
Computer: MS Office, Google Chrome & components, Outlook, Personnel and client records intake and maintenance, database maintenance, charting, data collection for records, setting up initial and ongoing scheduling.
Work style: Confidentiality ensured, honest, loyal, superb organization skills, goal oriented, ability to prioritize independently, adaptability - efficient under pressure, always meet deadlines, multitasking - competent handle many assignments, willing to stretch extra hours if needed to complete extra assigned work, critical thinking, decision making and problem solving skills.
Communication: Great at interpersonal communication - effective coordinator, excellent verbal and written communication skills, an effective listener, accuracy and punctuality, superb customer relations, good judgment, negotiating skills, conflict resolution, strong presentation skills
Other information which may be important: I live in Elliot Lake Ontario, a northern community.
Nomination for: IT Manager
I am writing to nominate Julie Buchanan from Alabama, currently of Brampton, ON for the position of IT Manager.
Julie Buchanan has been an active contributing member to Democrats Abroad Canada for nearly ten years, participating and volunteering at the local, national and global levels.
Currently Julie has been Acting IT Manager since the position became vacant, stepping forward when the person elected was unable to serve the full term. Julie had previously served as the IT Manager and brought a technical aptitude plus an understanding of the technology utilized by Democrats Abroad, which enabled her to immediately be effective.
This is not the first time Julie has stepped up or raised her hand to take on a challenge. On two separate occasions when vacancies occurred unexpectedly, Julie stepped into the Acting Chair position for the Toronto Chapter, leading the chapter to increased growth and member engagement.
Julie also gave her boundless energy and optimism for the Democratic Party to be a driving force for Democrats Abroad Canada's participation in the Women's March on Washington and the March for Our Lives.
Julie has been successful as the Acting IT Manager and I'm proud to nominate her to complete the term. Julie was born in Alabama and votes from Tennessee. Julie has agreed to serve if elected.
Nomination for: IT Manager
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Greg Nelsen and I am a registered Democrat living in Toronto Ontario. I have lived in Canada for nearly 20 years and reside here as a permanent resident. I am originally from Houston, Texas (a native son!) and actively participate in the happenings of my home state. I am registered to vote in the state of Texas and have never missed an election, be it local or federal. I have been a member of Democrats Abroad for many years.
I am an Information Technology professional and have more than 30 years' experience. As an IT consultant, I am always seeking opportunities to grow a business or organization by leveraging my knowledge of technology with the needs of the client organization. I have experience in various markets ranging from public to private including banking/finance, insurance, medical, R&D, government, and military.
Through my years of experience, I provide a wide range of expertise from the nuts-and-bolts, such as managing institutional domains, e-mail and list servers, and databases, to the "soft skills" needed to manage people. I have direct experience managing teams of people, including software development teams and volunteer social organizations and know the need for that "special something" required to coax the best performance from all.
A leadership role is critical to the effective functioning and good governance in any organization. Communication is critical to break down barriers and remove obstacles. As such, I also provide training and written documentation -- from technical design documentation to end-user "how to" guides.
I am currently in a position where I can devote time to the organization and feel that now, more than ever, the need to do so.
Please consider this note as my self-nomination to stand for the position of IT Manager for Democrats Abroad Canada. I am not an incumbent for this position.
Nomination for: IT Manager
• I care deeply about your privacy and the security of our membership data and infrastructure.
• I believe advancing a progressive agenda is crucial to securing environmental, economic, and social justice for all Americans.
• I work as a data scientist supporting a Web browser that you've heard of, and I have a deep understanding of how Internet technologies and platforms work.
I would look forward to maintaining a professional and effective Internet presence for Democrats Abroad Canada while helping chapter leaders communicate with their members. Since recent events have made clear that parties around the world have nefarious interests in Democratic infrastructure, I will apply a common-sense approach to best practices for information security to help maintain the integrity and privacy of your membership data and our information resources.
My past political engagement includes volunteering on phones and at doors for Democratic presidential campaigns and progressive referendum campaigns. I've worked as a staff field organizer for Hillary Clinton in Nevada in 2008, and as a field intern in DC for Human Rights Campaign. I hold BS, MS, and PhD degrees in engineering.
I reside in Vancouver, BC; vote in Irvine, CA; and I am not an incumbent.
Please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, you can find my LinkedIn profile at
https://linkedin.com/in/tdsmith, and Vancouverites can catch me swimming with
the English Bay Swim Club. It would be an honor to have your support.
Watch for the registration details to attend via WebEx and the electronic ballot to be distributed on June 1st.
George Spiegelman, NEC Chair
Democrats Abroad Canada invites you to nominate candidates to fill
mid-term vacancies to the DA Canada Board of Directors
25 April 2018
The Annual General Meeting (AGM), will be held on Saturday, June 16th, 2018 2:00pm – 4:00pm EDT.
This meeting will be held online (via WebEx) where you can participate from your own home, as well as in some Canadian cities to be announced.
As a result of mid-term vacancies, we’re inviting members to nominate candidates for two officer positions for the remainder of the 2017-19 term. The positions, currently being served through appointment, are Secretary and IT Manager.
Secretary: The Secretary shall attend and produce minutes for all Board meetings, maintain all files and administrative records of the organization, and maintain a current list of members of Democrats Abroad Canada Board. All of such records shall be open for inspection by members. Minutes of all meetings shall be sent to the Executive Committee once approved by the Country Chair and/or Executive Vice Chair. The Secretary shall schedule and coordinate on-line participation for all Board and Committee meetings.
IT Manager: The IT Manager performs as liaison to manage the domain, institutional email addresses, and security access to the database and bulk emailing system. With a team, the IT Manager is responsible for the Board list serve, DA website postings, wiki updates, and development and support of all types of electronic forms. The IT Manager manages the DA Canada social media sub-committee and other team members to offer technical solutions, training, and best practices to leaders across DA Canada.
Both of these officer positions will also be elected as Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) Voting Representatives: The DPCA Voting Representatives shall represent the views of DA Canada at the international meetings of the DPCA and vote accordingly at the meetings.
If your DA Canada Chapter is participating in the AGM, you may cast your vote in-person at that meeting if you have not previously voted over the Internet. Your online ballots will be emailed to you 01 June with instructions on how to complete the ballot by 11:59pm EDT 15 June.
Nominations are now open as of this mailing. The nomination period closes Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018 at 11:59pm EDT. We welcome you to submit your nomination(s) or self-nominate at this link: http://da.formstack.com/forms/2018nominations.
An accompanying letter supporting your nominee, or yourself if you are self-nominating, is requested. It needs to describe skills and experience pertinent to the position (or office) for which you or your nominee is running. A nominee must be a Democrats Abroad Canada (DACA) member, a US citizen, a resident of Canada and willing and able to handle the duties. A nominee must give his or her consent to stand for election.
We look forward to receiving your nominations as we approach the 2018 Mid-term Elections.
Chair, Democrats Abroad Canada
TAX CUTS & JOBS ACT HAS A NASTY SURPRISE FOR BUSINESS OWNERS ABROAD
A great many flaws exist in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act due to inadequate consultation and hasty drafting. One of those flaws causes enormous harm for Americans abroad who own businesses in their countries of residence.
If you are an overseas American with a business abroad, click here to reach out to Washington and demand a remedy!
The new tax law ushers in a system of Territorial Taxation for Corporations. The new system has 2 troubling components.
- Repatriation Tax: In transitioning to the new system, overseas subsidiaries of U.S. corporations who have profits that have not been repatriated to the U.S. parent company will be subjected to a Repatriation Tax on profits going back to 1986. The profits will be deemed to have been repatriated to the U.S. parent, even if there is no movement of cash or on paper, and then taxed at a discounted corporate rate, after certain offsets and credits for tax paid to the country of incorporation. If the offshore company is owned by a U.S. Person living abroad, rather than a U.S.- based corporation, the deemed profits are afforded no offsets nor credits for tax already paid. Clearly, this is an error in drafting.
- Global Intangible Low-Tax Income (GILTI) Tax: Disregard the name entirely because it is a misnomer. Going forward foreign businesses owned by U.S. based corporations and individuals and U.S. Persons living abroad will, again, be subjected to U.S. corporate tax on their profits, less about 10%, whether or not the profits are repatriated to the U.S.. As with the Repatriation Tax corporate owners of foreign businesses are afforded deductions (50%) and offsets (80% of foreign taxes paid) (in many instances the result will be no taxes owing) that U.S. Persons owning foreign businesses are not afforded. The U.S. Person owner of a foreign business will be paying tax twice on the same dollar of income. Clearly, this is another grievous error in drafting.
Last week a Democrats Abroad delegation spoke to members of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee about, amongst other things, the need for an urgent remedy for this policy flaw. Congress is working on an Omnibus appropriations bill to approve spending for this year that must be passed no later than 23 March. This matter is on, we understand, a lengthy list of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act problems that need to be addressed. Sadly, we also understand that very few of them will be addressed in the appropriations bill.
Demanding a remedy
Democrats Abroad and a number of others are demanding an urgent remedy for this policy flaw. Our proposal:
Americans abroad with interests in foreign corporations should be exempt from the Repatriation Tax and from the GILTI regime for any given year so long as two conditions are met.
- We meet the conditions required for exemption under IRC Section 911 (bona fide non-resident for tax purposes), and
- We are individual U.S. shareholders.
In the absence of Congressional action, we will urge the Treasury and IRS to take the following actions:
- Issue an immediate notice stating that for Americans abroad, the first payment under IRC Section 965 (transition tax on untaxed foreign earnings) is due the earlier of October 15, 2018, or the issuance of further guidance.
- Issue a further notice in line with our proposal.
As in all matters requiring the attention of lawmakers and regulators, robust outreach from affected parties is essential. Repatriation Tax declarations are to be made in 2017 filings, so time is of the essence.
Time to take action!
The script for this letter has been prepared by third party taxation advocates, in collaboration with Democrats Abroad’s Taxation Task Force. Democrats Abroad supports the collaborative, non-partisan campaign behind this grassroots advocacy initiative and believes it is essential for addressing this problem urgently.
Letter Campaign Contacts
Department of Treasury
Mr David Kautter
Mr Chip Harter
Mr William Paul
Leni C Perkins
House Ways & Means Committee
Senate Finance Committee
We also encourage calling your representatives in Congress, whether they be a Democrat or Republican. On this page you’ll find contact information for your Senator or Representative, along with useful tips for making effective calls to Congress.
Demand a remedy for the Repatriation and GILTI Taxes!
Please contact us at any time with questions: email@example.com
Chair, Democrats Abroad Canada
Students can ride for free. Minors need to be accompanied by an adult.
Ride with us by bus to Washington, DC. Let President Trump know on Saturday, March 24th that we stand with the brave kids and families of Parkland, FL. Show your support for gun control now and vow that #NeverAgain shall students die for the lack of common sense in gun legislation.
Register now for the DA Canada Delegation Charter Bus. Round-trip ticket is $150 CAD. We have places for 56 persons. Ten places are reserved for US citizen high school students to ride free. Bus pick-ups in Toronto, Burlington and Fort Erie.
The bus leaves Toronto for a 8:00-9:00 pm pick-up. We are also scheduling stops in Burlington and Fort Erie. Thereafter, we will travel overnight in a Coach Canada deluxe charter bus to Washington, DC, rolling up to Pennsylvania Ave on Saturday, March 24th. After attending the rally and march, we will leave DC Saturday night and travel overnight back to Ontario, Canada. The round-trip cost is $150 CAD on a first come first service basis.
"At the Democratic National Committee Meeting last week, a resolution was passed to support The March for Our Lives. Ken Sherman, DNC member in attendance, was so moved by the energy in the room, he notified us from the floor of the meeting that he will sponsor the first 10 US citizen high school students to join us! We are most grateful for his generosity and so looking forward to having these special guests and families on the bus."
Please sign up today! If you have one high school child you'd like to bring and have considered for sponsorship, we plan to provide one free ride per family, up to 10 families! Adult students can travel alone. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Never Again is the rally cry from the kids and families of Parkland Florida as they organize the March for Their Lives in DC March 24 2018
Never Again is the pledge I make.
Never again, will I let the memories of school shootings fade from my mind once the news cycle decides it not news anymore.
Never Again, will I forget the images of children dead inside of America's learning institutions.
Never again, will I be complacent on gun control.
Never Again, will I forget that these children depend on Us Adults to do something.
Forever and again, will I use my clout to vote "them" out.
Add your name to this pledge by sending an email to email@example.com. putting your First and Last Name (or First Name and last initial if you prefer) and City in the subject line.
Julie Buchanan-Brampton, ON
Lissette Wright-Ottawa, ON
Danielle Stampley-Toronto, ON
Gena Brumitt-London, ON
Steve Nardi-Mississauga, ON
Rajib Sengupta - Kolkata, India
Heidi Burch - Victoria, BC
Louie Bardelang - Columbus, Ohio
Jim Mercereau - Mardrid, Spain
Jacqueline Swartz - Toronto, ON
Please join us in a call with Earl Fowlkes, Chair of the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic National Committee, as he speaks about the various issues facing the LGBTQIA community under the current Administration, and about how the Democratic Party is addressing those issues and mobilizing the community to get out the vote in 2018. The call begins at 2pm DC time on February 28, 2018. Please RSVP below to join!
About our speaker:
Philadelphia native Earl Fowlkes has for a long time been an activist for
LGBTQIA rights and marriage equality. He is a founder and CEO of the
Center for Black Equity, an international LGBT advocacy organization, a member
of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, D.C.’s largest LGBT political
organization, chair of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, and since
2013, the chair of the LGBT Caucus in the DNC.
Please RSVP HERE to join and learn more!
Note: this is an online event, so you will need an internet connection in order to attend.
The US Consulate in Vancouver will be coming to Prince Rupert to host a "Pop-Up Consulate" for U.S. Citizens.
When: Friday, March 23rd
Where: Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, Training Room
Address: 1000 McBride Street MAP
Time: 12:30 pm - 4:00 pm
For appointments, please call: 1-604-685-4311 x340
Consulate staff will be accepting passport applications, passport renewals, applications for "Consular Report of Birth Abroad" and providing notary services. An appointment is required and there are fees for these services.
To make an appointment, please call American Citizen Services at: 1-604-685-4311 x340.
If you have any questions about the US Pop-Consulate, please email the US Consulate in Vancouver at: VancouverACS@state.gov
by: Virginia Smith
Many members of Democrats Abroad Canada arrived in Canada during the Vietnam War era, from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. A number of them, including Ken Sherman, were involved in efforts to stop the conflict.
Ken Sherman is the chair of DA Canada’s Hamilton – Burlington chapter and a member of the Democratic National Committee. He has also served as the global chair of Democrats Abroad and the chair of Democrats Abroad Canada.
Ken first became involved in anti-war efforts as a member of Clergy Concerned About Vietnam. He was a founder of the Draft Counselling Centre in Buffalo, New York, and was jailed at least seven times for his resistance activities. He was landed in Canada in 1996 and became a dual citizen soon after.
Ken started spending time in Canada in the early 1970s when his wife, a French national, started living in Ontario. At that time, he helped many Americans to find a place in Canada. After President Jimmy Carter’s amnesty for draft resisters was enacted, Ken drove a friend back to the U.S. The border crossing was publicized on national television as the first return home of an American after the amnesty.
DA Canada recently asked Ken to share some of his reflections about that tumultuous era.
● Tell us about a couple of the ways the Vietnam War changed your life.
The war made me a political activist. I and others began using the electoral system to raise issues to end the Vietnam War and redirect its resources to the urban infrastructure. I ran as a peace candidate for Buffalo City Council in 1969. I worked to support peace candidates in the 1968, 1972, and 1976 Federal elections. In the end, it was Congress that ended the war by not funding it.
The war also made me aware of the role of globalization. My wife to be was a French citizen who moved to Canada. She was looking for progressive politics that matched her views for world peace. We worked out an interpersonal relationship across borders and cultures to raise three children. I think about 90% of the Americans who came to Canada did so for similar reasons of love.
The movement of so many Americans at that time into Canada also changed the Canadian cultural environment and Canadian society.
● How did the war affect your commitment to your responsibilities as an American?
The global context of the Vietnam War woke me up to the situation in the Americas. I learned of the realities of U.S. imperialism in Central America / Nicaragua, for instance, and later in Afghanistan. I did coffee picking in Nicaragua in 1984 as part of a peace delegation. I realized then that the U.S. economic engine must have a war to feed its military machine.
Before he left office, President Carter warned that the battles of the future would be focused on the petroleum economy. I organized an energy coop in 1976 as energy conservation was becoming the new political framework. I supervised a staff of ten insulating inner city homes.
At the time of the first Iraq war in 1990, there was a movement to boycott the use of gasoline. I joined a peace demonstration to oppose the invasion. After, I turned to riding my bicycle where I could. My bicycle slipped on ice when returning from church one Sunday, and I broke my hip. I had to have three pins put into my hip. They remind me of the futility of that war.
● What has been the ongoing impact of the Vietnam War on U.S. political life?
The war taught me the key role that grassroots political organizing has on social change. Those who have come through the anti-war experience make up much of the progressive base of the Democratic Party today. They form a bloc that has been mobilized by the progressive wing of the party in response to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
There is now a permanent anti-war movement. The church-based and other political groups that came together in a movement continue to be funded and have support.
This movement is much more diverse now though. Such was noticeable recently in the assembly at the Washington Women’s March the day after the inauguration of President Trump. Everyone’s cause was on display at this march with great joy. The march was so full of love and respect. The movement to end the Vietnam War was composed largely of liberals and the college left.
I was so proud to be a Canadian and an American at the Women’s March.
● Are there similarities between the activism of the 1960s and today’s activism?
It is still true that social change comes through grassroots and political organizing. There is no social change without grassroots organizing.
● Is U.S. society as polarized now as it was then?
Yes, the country is as polarized now as it was in the 1960s. The war was wound down when the most people realized that there was no redemption in continued fighting and no victory to be won. Right now, Middle America is propping up Donald Trump. Political activism is again needed to mobilize the grassroots citizenry.
● What action is needed right now?
The progressive sector of the Democratic Party
needs to focus on getting out the vote for the 2018 mid-term elections. We need to turn back the Republican Party
from any more gains accomplished by gerrymandering districts
in advance of the next U.S. census.