Canada IT Manager / Toronto Chapter Chair / DPCA Voting Rep

Electing Democrats and stopping Trump. 


  • Democrats Abroad Toronto - Women's March 2019

    All are invited to join the DA Toronto Women's Caucus at the Toronto Women's March on January 19, 2019. This year, DA members are advocating globally for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (it's about time!) and equality for women in every arena. 

    We will be meeting in the food court near the Richtree Natural Market at the south end of the Eaton Centre around 10:30 am and walking over to Nathan Phillips Square around 11:30 am. The Queen's Street TTC stop is very near where we are meeting. Come join us for coffee, sign-making and solidarity before the march.

    The rally is schedule to being at noon, and we will walk from Nathan Phillips Square to Queen's Park after that. 

    Ever forward!

    -DA Toronto Women's Caucus

    WHEN
    January 19, 2019 at 10:30am
    WHERE
    Richtree Natural Market (inside the Eaton Centre)
    14 Queen St W
    Toronto, ON M5H 3X4
    Canada
    Google map and directions
    17 rsvps rsvp

  • Fifty Years

    Fifty Years

    J. David Markham

    October 2018

     

    Can it really have been that long? Half a century? It was then that I was drafted into the US Army and eventually sent to Vietnam. Paul Simon says there must be 50 ways to leave your lover but I can think of no way to forget the summer of 1968 and the year or so that followed. Remember, this was the year we lost MLK Jr. and RFK. There were riots in the streets as the war escalated. There was Tet.

    What happened?

    Young and Stupid

    There is an ironclad rule that when people not in school are being drafted, you stay in school. So of course for a number of reasons, including a certain lack of success at the University of Iowa, I ended up driving a cab for a while. I applied for the National Guard, hoping to avoid the worst. Not gonna happen. Uncle Sam sent me his invitation to engage in some Fun, Travel and Adventure, aka FTA.

    Decisions, Decisions

    In college I had been very much against the war, and once drafted I really had a tough decision to make. Many of my fellow young people in a similar situation were moving to Canada to avoid the draft. Some people called them cowards and even traitors, but I never bought into that. They were going to a very different place (at least it seemed so then) with a very uncertain future. Their ties to their home country might never be restored. While I took a different path, I have always admired their courage.

    I could also have burned my draft card, but that always struck me as a futile gesture.

    I finally decided that I would answer the call to serve the nation, even though I thought the war was a distinct disservice to the nation. I had ideas of a political future. I also believed that somehow, some way, I would come through it fine. In that I was certainly proved correct.

    A Blissful Experience – Or Not

    I was sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, outside of El Paso, in January of 1968. Never was there a more misnamed fort! Basic training took me an extra couple of weeks, due to hospital time with double pneumonia. But hey, I got to tell a nurse, a lieutenant, to please move so I could mop where she was. Yes, sick as a dog but they had me mopping the floor!

    Basic training was interesting. Lots of PT (physical training, i.e. running with full gear), marksmanship, crawling under barriers, etc. Up really early. Because our sex drives seemed to be missing in action the general feeling was that they were putting saltpeter in our food. The drill sergeants said it was just because we were not used to such exercise. I suspect he was correct. Our main drill sergeant was Sgt. Seabrease, a short thick man with whom you did not want to tangle. We often heard that he would always win fights at the enlisted men’s club or the local pubs. We had no trouble believing that. But I really respected the work he did. He was up before dawn and with us off and on all day until bedtime. If I recall he was an E-6 staff sergeant, though he might have been an E-7.

    During my time there we had two excursions. One was into Mexico to see a bull fight. The other was an evening at someone’s home. I drew a very nice couple whose rec room was full of guns. I have no use for bullfights or rooms full of guns unless it is the local arsenal.

    There was one time that a colonel was retiring and they wanted some drummers to bring in the colors. I volunteered to be one of them. There were four of us, and the other three were almost certainly better than I was. But I did know how to do a simple cadence well and managed to go first. The captain liked my style and the other better drummers had to follow my lead. An important lesson: if you do something well, make sure it becomes the standard over something you don’t do as well. We got to wear white belts and chrome helmets. Fun.

    I could tell you more interesting stories, but I can already see the editor of this project tearing out her hair. Over 700 words and you are just leaving basic training. Arrrgh!

    Go (Further!) West, Young Man

    After basic training, I was shipped to Ft Huachuca, Arizona, for Advanced Individual Training (AIT). My MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was 05B20, which was signal corps. That meant that there was a very real chance that my job would be to carry a PRC 25 (commonly known as a prick 25) on my back in the jungle. Not good. But I made the best of it. A friend and I worked a scam for a while that got us out of some duties. We claimed to be processing for OCS (Officer’s Candidate School), but would spend most of the time shooting pool or wandering around. Another time they wanted someone to teach Morse Code. I learned just enough to make them think I knew what I was doing, so I got to be the teacher using a manual rather than actually having to learn the stuff. I also got a long weekend in Phoenix with the Sergeant Major to play in a bridge tournament.

    I did learn some things there, though, and generally made a good impression on the staff. One thing I learned was that if you didn’t want your fate decided elsewhere, take the initiative. I moved up in rank from a private (E-1, or Enlisted-1) to a Private-E2 with one stripe and then to a Private First Class (PFC, E-3). I was then sent to a holding company for a few weeks, and soon received orders to go to Vietnam.

    Way Up North

    Well, not that far, actually. Before going to ‘Nam I had 30 days leave. So first to Iowa City and Peoria, where I married my first wife, Nancy. We took a short honeymoon in Chicago. We stayed a few nights in a hotel on Lake Shore Drive and then stayed with our friends Chris and Karen Ely further north. Do you remember what was happening in Chicago in the summer of 1968? Yep, we were there just in time for the Democratic National Convention! We saw the demonstrations, the flag pole climbing, and numerous politicians. One night when it got really bad, Chris and I drove to help people who had been beat up by the cops. It was a unique political experience. The next DNC I would attend was in New York City in 1976 as an Honored Guest (and local candidate for office in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin). It was quite a different experience, to say the least!

    Good morning, Vietnam

    In August, I went to Vietnam. We flew commercial (TWA I think) with a stopover in Hawaii. They actually let us go into the airport where we –wait for it—got lei’d by some young lovelies! Hey, I never promised I would have no bad puns in this piece!

    I was assigned to the 9th Signal Battalion in the 9th Infantry Division, located in Dong Tam, way south in the Mekong River Delta. I was to be a radio operator, and my biggest fear was being assigned to carry a PRC-25 (prick 25), which was on your back with a long antenna that served as a target while you sloshed through the jungle. I could also be assigned to a base radio (ANGRC 95, “Angry 95”), which would have been much better.

    When we lined up for assignment, I remembered the early lesson: take the initiative! So when I got to the Specialist 5 (E-5), I pointed out that I was married, had three years of university and could type. Glory be, he made me the Company Clerk for B Company! There would be, at least for now, no jungle duty! After some time I was assigned as a clerk for S-2 (military intelligence, and no jokes about that being an oxymoron) where I received the security clearance of ‘Secret,’ which was actually not that high. In due course I moved into the battalion HQ, but more on that later.

    We lived in two story wood buildings called ‘hooches.’ The ground floor was protected by sandbags piled outside, the top floor by the wood walls. You will be shocked to learn that the higher ranks were assigned the ground floor. A few steps outside, toward the river, were the latrine and the shower. We usually had hot water, for there were only two seasons there: hot and dry, hot and wet. We could see lots of boat traffic on the river, including the famous swift boats and also the ones you saw in Apocalypse Now. I still think that is the best movie on the war, though Platoon is excellent as well.

    Young and Stupid, Part Two

    Because we were on a base camp of some 50,000 men (and some women, most notably the nurses in the hospital next to us), we were generally not worried about being attacked on the ground. Luckily, I arrived long after the Tet Offensive of 30 January 1968. Our only real fear was the rocket and mortar attacks that we had to deal with routinely. When I was first there, we had some sandbag bunkers to which we ran when the siren went off. In due course, however, we built a very sturdy wooden bunker with four feet or so of dirt in the walls and roof. It even had electricity. It was built right next to my hooch, so was very convenient for me. Out on the river was a small island that we called VC Island for the obvious reason. VC was short for Viet Cong, who along with the NVA (North Vietnamese Army, or their regular army) were the enemy.

    Although we generally assumed that the VC went underground immediately after firing a few rounds in our direction, spotter helicopters were sent up to see if they could find anyone. Flares were fired into the air, and they would slowly descend with the help of small silk parachutes. These parachutes became collector’s items, and we would often try to track them down if they came our way. I never got one, but not for lack of trying. We would also leave the bunker to see the sound and light show. That would be the tracer bullets fired from the Cobras if there was something to be fired at. The Huey Cobra helicopter was the best fighting machine we had, and I think was the main reason we could reasonably expect to defeat the VC or NVA in the field.

    By the way, there was at least some fear that we would be targeted by the VC. We had two really tall radio antennas in our area, just like two goal posts, to use as a target. We did get hit, but I don’t recall ever losing anyone.

    Let Me Entertain You

    The top brass understood the importance of morale and provided a variety of entertainment opportunities. We had our enlisted men’s club, a miniature golf course and a library. There was a PX to buy things. They also brought in live entertainment, usually musical, and we had movies all the time. At first they were outside, but later moved into the more secure bunker mentioned above. Two special examples of entertainment do come to mind.

    One night I had decided to turn in a little early and pass on whatever movie was being shown. Sure enough, the sirens sounded, and I quickly got dressed and grabbed my M16. When I went into the bunker I discovered, much to my amusement, that they were showing The Green Berets, starring John Wayne. We didn’t need to fight at all, for he would win the war for us!

    The other entertainment example that comes to mind was when Bob Hope came to town. That was quite the spectacle, to say the least. He had others with him, including (of course) some Playboy Bunnies. It was great fun, and I can assure you it did not end like the similar event in Apocalypse Now.

    ET Call Home!

    Communicating with loved ones back home is very important to morale. I am often amused when I talk with veterans of American actions going back even to the Iraq War or Kuwait, to say nothing of more recent actions. When the conversation comes to keeping in touch back home, they can only complain if the Wi-Fi is down, hurting their ability to video talk on Skype. In ‘Nam, we had two ways to communicate in person. We could sign up for the one phone they had that provided free calls back home, sort of a WATTS line. You could wait weeks for that opportunity.

    The other way was to record audiotapes. At the PX you could get a small recorder that took a totally enclosed in plastic tape. After making your recording you could then mail it home. In a week or two it would arrive. They could then record a message over it (or in the case of my parents, use a new tape) and send one back.

    Wi-Fi indeed!

    The War

    While it may not seem so, the war did sometimes come to our base camp. One night I had to pull perimeter guard duty. A couple of other guys and me were in a bunker with our M16 rifles, an M-60 machine gun and an M-79 grenade launcher. There was a very large clear ‘killing field’ in front of us. We were to fire on anything that moved.

    Another time we were actually attacked on land. We had to scramble rather quickly to get to our assigned posts, prepared to blast away if necessary. In some parts of the base it was necessary, but our area was relatively uneventful.

    On a side note, I think it was that night that I stepped on some broken glass while getting dressed, drawing some blood. Someone later told me that I would probably qualify for a Purple Heart (wounded while under combat conditions). I figured it would be an outrage for me to get the same medal that some guy who got his nuts blown off (or worse) got, so I didn’t pursue it. It would have helped on civil service exams and looked good on the uniform, but I have never regretted that decision.

    Another time the VC managed to hit our main ammo dump. We heard explosions all night. I was recording a tape to my parents or my wife and you could hear them on the tape.

    The ‘Travel’ in FTA

    By now I am certain that you are all waiting with baited breath to learn just what was it that I did when not engaged in these other activities. In due course I was transferred to the HQ detachment where I became the R&R NCO (non-commissioned officer). Ironically, I replaced the fellow who made me a company clerk in the first place! Now, R&R stands for Rest and Relaxation. There were two kinds of R&R’s that you could get. The most important one was out of country for one week, all expenses paid. Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Hawaii were among the favorites.

    The other kind was in-country at the former French resort city of Vung Tau on the South China Sea. There you could relax for a long weekend at a very secure location. I ended up with two to three of these, though not out of my allocation for the unit. I was able to combine them with visits to our field unit near Vung Tau.

    My job was to determine who would go. Each month I had a certain allotment for Vung Tau, which I filled on a first come first served basis. The out of country situation was more complicated. Each month I would get a certain number of seats for different locations. Let’s say if I got 10 seats one month, I might get three for Bangkok, three for Hawaii, and four for assorted other destinations. But often I would have requests for that month that simply did not match what I was given. My predecessor would simply leave those seats unfilled if they didn’t match the requests he had in hand. I had a better idea.

    I managed to get a jeep assigned to me for a once a month excursion to my fellow R&R NCO’s around the base (each battalion had one). Whenever possible I would trade seats, giving one that I didn’t need in exchange for one I could use. This brought my fill ratio from somewhere between 50 to 60% to well over 90%, which made everyone, including the command Lt. Colonel, quite happy. My Staff Sergeant, Sgt. Jenkins (how do I still remember that name?) was also quite pleased, and when he was happy, we were all happy.

    But wait, there’s more! Sometimes I had tickets to give, but nobody had tickets I could use. So I would trade for X number of SP Packs, or Sundry Packs. These were large boxes filled with pens, paper, cigarettes and other necessities of life, which I then made available to the men in my unit. I was a pretty popular guy.

    Speaking of cigarettes, I actually quite smoking (I had been a fairly heavy smoker) while I was over there, the reverse of what you might expect. I stayed off for 5.5 years until my divorce from Nancy got me started again. But in 1982, before I married my second wife, Barbara, I quit again and have been off ever since. I also never smoked any weed while over there, something that quite a few could not say.

    I did end up going to Bangkok and really loved it. I went with a friend of mine. Upon arrival, he rented a car and a woman for the week. Due to the second, he seldom needed the first and offered it to me. I went all over town, seeing the zoo, the capital building, countless shops and temples. I went to TIM Land (Thailand in Miniature), where I saw elephants at work and other interesting things. I also saw a young woman who I thought was the most beautiful I had ever seen. She was an employee and I never even got her name. Oh, well.

    All of my work must have impressed those above me, even at the highest levels. In April of 1969 I was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for my work. The Lt. Colonel pinned it on me. In June I was awarded the Bronze Star, this time given by the commanding general. I was also given the Good Conduct Medal, much to the amazement of many! During this time I was also promoted to Specialist Four and then to Specialist Five, the administrative equivalent of a Sergeant E-5 (three stripes). I know that some folks have talked about award and rank inflation in Vietnam, and perhaps there was some of that. But I feel I richly deserved the honors and am very proud to have them, as I am very proud of the work I did to help improve the morale of my fellow soldiers.

    I had other jobs to do, of course. I did the daily bulletin on our mimeograph machine (!). During my days in university before and after ‘Nam, people who were organizing demonstrations or rallies considered it the most revolutionary invention ever, as you could almost immediately post or pass out information all over campus!

    Other Activities

    It was not all work and no play, of course. We had parties and some played cards. We had a non-denominational church. On some Sundays I played the organ. One Sunday the commanding general and his senior staff sat in the pew right beside the organ. To say I was nervous was an understatement! I adopted a stray puppy, whom I named Troop. He was the cutest thing you ever saw. I often wondered what happened to him after I left.

    My most interesting activity, and the one that gave the most satisfaction, took place on some Sundays. There was a Catholic orphanage in the nearby village. As I am adopted, it was a natural to get involved. A group of us would take a two and a half ton truck (deuce and a half) and maybe a jeep or two, and bring important supplies like food, toys and clothing to the kids. We would stay a few hours to keep them company. I have some heartwarming photos of me with some of the cute little kids and the stoic old ladies who took care of them. Of all of my memories of my time there, this is my favorite. But war reminders were never far away. The metal gate was pock-marked from machine gun fire during Tet, and I was fired on once when driving my jeep.

    We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

    Those words by the Animals (1965) were the basic theme for all of us who were there. The song was played in every concert, and the GIs like me lustily sang along. Career soldiers also were glad to go home, even if they knew they would be back. We all took the attitude expressed in the movie Platoon: All you have to do is make it out of here. For most of the war leading up to mid 1969, going home generally meant a 30-day leave and then some assignment stateside to finish out your two-year obligation (the normal tour in ‘Nam was 12 months).

    Then President Nixon instituted what was called an ‘early out’ program, meaning if when you left ‘Nam with 150 days or fewer to go for your two year obligation you were simply released from the Army while still being given full credit for serving two years (important for such things as the GI Bill, for example). He then began to draw down American forces. I guess they didn’t want a bunch of bored short-timers hanging around bases getting into trouble. My unit was soon ordered to stand down and prepare to leave.

    Homeward Bound

    But there was a problem.

    We were scheduled to leave two weeks before I would hit the magic number of 150 days left! I took quick initiative and arranged to be transferred to another unit that was leaving two weeks later. Whew! This meant I would arrive home in time to return to the university in the fall! When the day came, we all lined up to be carried by Chinook choppers to the Saigon airport and then home via military transport. There was a lot of ‘hurry up and wait’ but in the end, off we went. We refueled in Tokyo and then landed in Alaska. After a long delay there due to mechanical problems, we flew to Seattle. When we got off the plane around 3:00 in the morning, they had a military band playing to welcome us on the tarmac. Even today it brings tears to the eyes.

    I am often asked what, if any, effect the war had on me. I think of the comment by Chris Taylor, the character played by Charlie Sheen in Platoon. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days… Am I glad I served? Yes, I think so. It certainly gave me new insights into life and a new determination to do well in life.

    The Rest of the Story

    That determination seems to have worked, though there were lots of ups and downs along the way. I did go back to school and graduated with high grades, then on to the University of Northern Iowa for a straight-A Master of Arts degree. We went to Southern Illinois University to work on a PhD. Nancy fell for an Iranian who was a friend of mine. He gave me a beautiful Persian rug. Turned out it was a trade for my wife. I ended up going to Wisconsin to teach, followed by a number of government administrative jobs. While working in the Wisconsin Department of Veterans affairs I fell in love with a staff lawyer, Barbara Munson, and we married. I accepted a job with a union in Phoenix, eventually ended up getting a Master of Education degree, and began a long career teaching high school. Her job took us to West Palm Beach, Florida, and Olympia, Washington. We traveled the world and I got very involved in writing books on Napoleonic history and organizing international history congresses. Eventually I became president of the International Napoleonic Society. I’ve written a number of books, been on TV shows and received many awards, including France’s highest civilian-only award.

    Oh, Canada

    As you can tell, we are nearing the end of the story, much to the relief of the editor! One of those conferences that I organized was in Montreal in 2009. There I met a woman with whom I had been in some contact with through email. Edna Mueller was a geophysicist but also had a serious Napoleonic hobby. I encouraged her to present a paper, and I and others encouraged her to attend another upcoming conference in Charleston, SC. One thing led to another and we soon decided to be together. Leaving Barbara was extremely hard, but happily we decided to remain the best of friends, a bit like a sister/brother relationship, a situation that delighted Edna. We bought a condo in downtown Toronto and married on 2 December 2011 (a very important date in Napoleonic history. Coincidence? I don’t think so!). On March 15, 2018, I became a Canadian citizen, so now have two passports. While I cannot stand the cold winters and am not much of a hockey or poutine fan, I do love living in Toronto.

    A Final Thought

    I am on the board of directors for the Toronto chapter of Democrats Abroad (I can still vote in Olympia and do so at every opportunity), and it is the Toronto chapter that asked me to write this essay (though they asked for a far shorter version. Be careful what you ask for!). The original project was to get stories of guys who came to Canada to avoid the draft. That got me to thinking. I have met quite a few American expat guys around my age (I’m also involved in an expat meet-up group), and I have never once found myself wondering if they were one of those so-called draft dodgers. Finding they were a fellow Yankee fan would be far more important! And with a further thought, it occurred to me that I don’t really care and would certainly not even think of holding it against them. But this project does remind me once again that, as Chris Taylor said, the war is still with me. Those who know me know I cannot resist this quote from Hotel California -- to say it a different way: You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!

     

    And I guess that thought is a good way to close.


  • THANK YOU TO OUR VOLUNTEERS!

    Today, December 5th, is International Volunteer Day. International Volunteer Day was designated by the United Nations in 1985 as an international observance day to celebrate the power and potential of volunteerism.

    This year dedicated DA Canada volunteers have shown their power and potential in many ways.

    Democrats Abroad is 100% volunteer run, we could not do any of our great work without you. We are very proud and grateful for the dedication and time that our volunteers contribute.

    In 2018, through street festivals, rallies, pop-up events, and phone-banking, across Canada hundreds of volunteers contributed over a thousand hours of time to support GOTV. The GOTV Campaign Office in Toronto was a unique opportunity for us to see volunteers in action. We were amazed by the dedication, skill and enthusiasm of the volunteers who made this office a success!

    We overcame insurmountable odds and your hard work made an impact on many historic Democrat victories. You helped to flip the House Blue!

    Thank you!

    There are some outstanding volunteers who we would like to give some special recognition for going above and beyond this year to get out the vote!

    Debra Lazar was nominated by her chapter. She is a long time member of Democrats Abroad and has been critical helping to organize chapter activities. Thank you Debra!

    Cameron Mitchell was nominated by his chapter. Cameron stepped forward and filled a critical role as a bilingual media contact. He also created and led a successful “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day” media event. We are grateful that he worked so hard to get out the word that Americans in Canada can vote in the US elections!

    Riley Nielson-Baker was nominated as an outstanding volunteer by their chapter for helping to get out the student vote this year. Riley is a university student and has worked hard to get Democrats Abroad visible on campus. Thank you Riley!

    Danielle Stampley was nominated by her chapter. Danielle's leadership, knowledge and caring personality make her and an invaluable member of her chapter. We are grateful that even with her busy schedule she can give so much time to DA.

    Michael Stevenson was nominated by the GOTV Team for his outstanding dedication to phone-banking. Michael made thousands of calls and had 1422 conversations with members during this year’s election!

    Tracy Hudson was nominated by DA Canada IT. Tracy has dedicated many hours as our national Facebook Page Administrator. Her amazing work on our page has been praised by the DA international social media team.

    Tracy was also nominated by her chapter as a skilled communicator who ensures all chapter events are posted and promoted to members. She is a talented photographer, her photos are regularly published in local media promoting Democrats Abroad. Tracy also was the co-lead for a voters information table at the American Women’s club.

    Phone-banking is the most effective way Democrats Abroad can reach out to Americans living overseas to get out the vote! The following are volunteers who went the extra mile this year, and their incredible GOTV conversation totals!

    Stephanie Perry 964
    Mari Rutka 774
    Lorraine Scott 720
    Allenna Leonard 481
    Janette McCabe 379
    Melek Ortabasi 357
    Elizabeth Shropshire 340
    Kenneth Sherman 339
    Carol Donohue 313
    Erin Campeau 281
    Letitia O’Connell 259
    Nargess Khosrowshahi 248
    Reg Charney 247
    Beverly Wellman 235
    Carol Ricker Wilson 212

    On this International Volunteer Day, the leadership of Democrats Abroad Canada wishes to extend their heartfelt gratitude to all of our volunteers. Your efforts truly helped in making the difference in these midterm elections.

    Democratically yours,

    Jamey Shick, 

    Director of Volunteers DA Canada 


  • A Momentous Border Crossing

    I met Cliff in 1970, when I was a grad student at a university in Ohio, and he was an undergrad. We were singing folk songs in local clubs. I inquired about how he could be staving off the draft call, since he was only a part-time student, and he said that he was going to go to jail rather than go to serve in the military, which would likely have sent him to what we all considered an illegal war in Vietnam. I had graduated from a college in the midwest, in music, and a few of my colleagues had moved to Canada to perform in film and concerts. They loved their lives in Canada. My closest friend, Janet, kept writing about what a great place it was to live and about the opportunities in music. So I suggested to Cliff that we drive north. Canada was accepting draft dodgers with no questions asked, we were told. And we did!

    We loaded all of our worldly belongings into Cliff's parents' car and drove north towards Toronto. We got to the Canadian border and, in our naiveté, said: "We want to move to Canada." We were two young hippies with no money or documents. We went through the immigration process and were turned down. One of the questions was regarding our employability. At the time, I was a TV and radio producer in Ohio. When I was assessed for employment points, I was only given one point because they classified me as a "clerk." They didn't have a classification for TV producer!

    Anyway, we drove back to Ohio from the Windsor border, unloaded everything except clothing in a suitcase, and drove to a different border. We decided to return as tourists and visit, so they welcomed us.

    We stayed in a seedy motel on the Lakeshore in Toronto. The next day we went to the offices of Toronto Anti-Draft Program (TADP), an organization of Canadians and Americans that was dedicated to helping the tens of thousands of young men escaping the U.S. draft. The TADP people helped us to get organized. They gave Cliff a job letter from a library. It was a fake job offer, but actually written by the library, which supported what we were doing. They explained how to be successful at immigration and were willing to give us cash to show at the border so that we would appear to be solvent.

    We found a flat in a house on Clinton Street. For five weeks I commuted to Ohio to finish my course work. Each week I would bring more of our stuff and never had border issues. Cliff looked for work. In July, 1971, we decided to try to immigrate. By then, we had gotten married (we thought that would help with immigration), cut our hair, bought suits, gathered reference letters from clergy and employers, obtained copies of our degree certificates, assembled birth documents, raised a bit of money, and, with the help of TADP, put together an impressive portfolio.

    We then had to get back to the U.S., but Cliff was now a wanted man. The FBI had shown up at his apartment the day after we left for Canada! So we borrowed ID from a nice Canadian who resembled Cliff (at that time there was no picture ID), went back to the U.S., claiming that Cliff was "Gordon," and then drove to a Canadian border to apply for immigration. This time my credentials didn't count because I was "the wife." However, we had enough going for us that we were given landed immigrant status.

    We reported back to TADP. They ask us to help the next wave. For two years, we housed draft dodgers and deserters who arrived in Toronto. Every three days, there would be a new guy or couple. We helped them understand Toronto, gave them refuge and food, and assisted them in finding permanent housing. And we continued to sing in coffee houses in Toronto. I got a job with Screen Gems TV, working as a Production Assistant on the popular show "Under Attack." Cliff worked in a library.

    Cliff eventually returned to Ohio under the amnesty program. We had split up, and he was very close to his family. I stayed. I loved Canada and still do. I am grateful for the opportunities afforded to us by those caring Canadians. I went on to open a successful entertainment business that created job opportunities for thousands of performers over the 32 years I had the company. I sold the company in 2011 and now work with individual artists to develop their careers. I've spent decades "giving back" to the community in a myriad of ways, and, because of my volunteer work, was recognized as "Citizen of the Year” by my local community.

     

    P.S.


  • Canada Opens GOTV Office in Toronto! Volunteers Needed!

    August 25, 2018 at 3:17pm

    Join the team in making sure we vote them out! We are phoning Democrats in Flippable states - our votes can be the difference!

    Click here to join the team!

     

     

     


  • published A hard decision to defy the draft in News 2018-08-12 20:20:09 -0400

    A hard decision to defy the draft

    In 1969, I was a University of Toronto student sharing a house in the Kensington Market area of Toronto with other students. All of us were Americans. I was not yet a landed immigrant in Canada, but I soon became landed. The Vietnam War was shaking up our lives in very unpleasant ways, and we believed – implicitly most of the time – that little short of a revolution could restore our lives to a state of domestic tranquility. The world was developing in ways that made it unlike the comfortable milieu we had seen in shows like Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best. What if it turned out that Father didn’t know anything?

    The rich colours and flavours of the Kensington Market ensured that our lives were full of colors and a variety of rich flavors, and, most of the time, I enjoyed the neighborhood and did not worry a lot about the turbulence of the wider world. There were wonderful Portuguese and Jewish bakeries like Permutter’s and Lottman’s and lavishly supplied cheese emporiums on Kensington Ave. Grossman’s Tavern served as a local beverage house. The transformation of Baldwin St. into an interesting cultural center, which would happen because of initiatives by U.S. draft dodgers and their friends, had not yet occurred. There were still shows at the Victory Burlesque at the corner of Spadina and Dundas. I went once myself because, even though I was a woman who supported “women’s lib” (as it was often called then), my consciousness was still not really raised.

    For a while, we provided temporary housing for draft resisters and people who had left the U.S. armed forces (usually referred to as “deserters”). We did not talk very much about whether provision of housing to people we never met before was a good idea. We just took it for granted that this was an action that people living in Toronto should take. Most of the people we housed were deserters, not draft resisters. We didn’t talk much to the people who stayed with us. They were quiet and cooperative, and moved on within days. An RCMP officer did come to our house once because he wanted to talk to one of our guests, and I found this occurrence quite alarming. Nothing negative happened to our guest or to us as a result of the visit, however.

    One of the residents of the house was a draft resister. My friend did not have to uproot himself and move across the border when he was drafted because he was already a student in Canada when he was drafted. His situation was easier than the plight of many draft resisters who had to make an abrupt move. Still, his decision was not at all easy because he had to turn down an attractive offer from a U.S. graduate school. He had to give up the idea of going home to see his parents across the border. Any idea he might have had about a bright professional future had to be shelved, at least temporarily, and reshaped at a later date.

    Then there came an occasion when he felt that he had to cross the border to see his family. He borrowed someone’s ID to cross the border. At the time, borrowing ID did not seem a crazy or impossible step, though of course it would be now. Most people of our age had had some experience of borrowing ID to purchase alcoholic beverages, and using ID to cross the border did not seem very different, though of course it was completely different! I believed that it was very unlikely that anything could go wrong. As it turned out, I was mistaken. His father ended up driving him back to Canada very quickly when his family members got the impression that inquiries were being made.

    As I reflect on this experience now, a couple of insights occur to me. One is that the people who crossed the border were courageous. Draft resisters, whose only previous infractions may have been high school demerits and traffic tickets, made the choice to become law breakers. This choice drastically changed the course of their lives, at least for a while. Many draft resisters and deserters settled permanently in Canada and developed rewarding personal and professional lives. Their resistance has become a distant bump on the horizon as they look back on their lives. Still, it was a very big bump at the time.

    As I look back, I am also surprised at how little people who resisted or deserted seemed to agonize about their decisions. I suppose that this ability to take swift action is one of the advantages of youth. We never asked ourselves: “Suppose this is a just war that can be won?” Maybe it is just as well that we did not ask the question, because it turned out that we were right that the Vietnam War was not a war that we should support.

    The author of this story wishes to stay anonymous.

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  • Stopping the Madness at Oakville Midnight Madness July 13 2018

    The Toronto Chapter hosted a  voter registration booth at Midnight Madness.  Below,  Peel Regional Representative, Sue Alksnis recollects encounters with Americans. These words express what it it's like to have the rewarding experience of volunteering with our GOTV events. Please join our volunteer team! 

    We talked to three 18 year olds who will be voting for their first time in the 2018 midterms.

    We spoke to a 16 year old who wants to be ready to vote in 2020 and wasn’t sure what voting address to use since he’s never resided in the States (answer: his parent’s last U.S. address).

    And the young woman whose “Nana” moved to Canada from Florida and really wants to vote this year. She will help “Nana” use www.votefromabroad.org

    Oh, and we mustn’t forget the Oregon voter who was illegally denied her vote in 2016 when her Local Election Official told her that she doesn’t get to vote anymore since she moved away. Wrong! Americans have the right to vote wherever they live. That voter now knows that she can vote and that Democrats Abroad has a voter helpdesk for these kinds of situations. Check out the Voter Help Desk/FAQ at www.votefromabroad.org where you can chat live with a DA volunteer or email help@votefromabroad.org

    Our volunteer crew spoke to almost 50 US voters, including 25 brand new overseas voters from many states, including: FL, NC, CO, MT, TX, OR, and NY.

    Thank you to our volunteers who worked through the heat & humidity until 1:00 am!!! Judith Wanner-Hamilton Chapter, Julie Buchanan-Toronto Chapter, Steve Nardi-Canada Chair and Sue Alksnis, Peel Representative.   


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  • Viet Nam Project: 50 Years of Striving for Peace and Justice

                                                                                  Originally posted July 24 2018

    Latest Update December 17 2018

    In its Vietnam War history project, Democrats Abroad Toronto is gathering the stories and personal reflections of members who moved to Canada from the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Links to these stories can be found below and we will update this article as meetings happen and stories are added.

    The motivations for these moves were often related in some way to the social upheaval caused by U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam.

    Ken Sherman discusses his anti-war activism in an interview with him that appears under the News tab on the Democrats Abroad Canada website. Ken has held a number of roles in DA, including that of International Chair. He is currently the chair of the Hamilton chapter and a member of the Democratic National Committee.  Click here to read the article: Views from Canada: Apocalypse Then - Looking Back at the Vietnam War after Half a Century.

    Long time DA volunteer, Beverly Fay looks back on her family’s move from the U.S. to Canada in 1969. Click here to read the article:  A Cross Border Journey

     We realize that not everyone who has a story about the era is comfortable sharing it authored. This story was submitted with the ask that it be posted anonymously. We are honored to share "A hard decision to defy the draft"  with you. 

    **New story added Setp 24, 2018** A Momentous Border Crossing ~anonymous

    **New story added Dec 17, 2018** Fifty Years, a story from Toronto Board Member, J David Markham, serving in 'Nam

    The project has had two meetings up to now, in late April and late May. Planning is now under way for a public meeting in the fall.

    Many Americans who came to Canada put down roots in the country and became permanent residents. At the same time, they remained loyal to their identities as Americans and never lost their hope that the U.S. would fully realize the belief of its founders that "all men are created equal."

    Half a century after the eruption of the Vietnam War as major conflict, members of Democrats Abroad want to talk about ways to gather some of the stories of those who came to Canada during that period. We want to do the gathering in a way that reveals events and motives, but at the same time protects the privacy of the story tellers. There are two purposes for this initiative: to develop a record of our personal and political lives, and to discover the contemporary relevance of resistance to the Vietnam War and other wars.

     

    If you would like more information about this project, please contact Virginia Smith at peace@democratsabroad.ca

    Below is a list of articles in the order that they were posted. You can click on each link to read each article.  

    Apocalypse Then - Looking Back at the Vietnam War after Half a Century. (Ken Sherman) 

     A Cross Border Journey (Beverly Fay)

    A hard decision to defy the draft (Anonymous) 

    A Momentous Border Crossing (Anonymous)

    Fifty Years (J David Markham)

     

     


  • Democrats Abroad Canada mid-term Election Results

    The DA Canada Nominations and Elections Committee is pleased to provide the results of the 2018 Annual General Meeting & Election.

    Secretary: Marnelle Dragila

    IT Manager: Julie Buchanan

    Click here for the draft minutes of the AGM

    The Teller of Elections tabulated the results of the 156 valid ballots cast. (Out of the 156 ballots submitted, 3 were spoiled and not included in the results) Click here to view the election results. Any questions about vote tallies may be directed to the Teller of Elections at: teller@democratsabroad.ca.

    The membership is informed that any member of DA Canada who wishes to challenge any election result may do so by submitting an email to George Spiegelman, Chair of the NEC, at: spie@mail.ubc.ca. All challenges must be submitted by July 15, 2018.

    Democratically yours,

    DA Canada Nominations and Elections Committee

    George Spiegelman, Chair
    Annie Parry
    Ed Ungar
    Heidi Burch, Teller of Elections

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  • A Cross-Border Journey

    June 18, 2018

    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 fromGeorgia. 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.” 


  • Bus Trip from Ontario to March for Our Lives~March 23rd-25th

    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 neveragain@democratsabroad.ca with any questions. 


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  • Take the Pledge-Never Again

    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 neveragain@democratsabroad.ca. 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

    Ramona Rhoades - Cocoli, Panama Oeste, Panama

    Rajib Sengupta - Kolkata, India 

    Heidi Burch - Victoria, BC

    Louie Bardelang - Columbus, Ohio

    Jim Mercereau - Mardrid, Spain

    Jacqueline Swartz - Toronto, ON

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  • NEVER AGAIN: DA supports Parkland students’ demands for action

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              by Virginia Smith

    Parkland shooting survivor Dimitri Hoth speaking at the Florida legislature on Feb. 21, 2018: “We, the students, will make a difference.”

    With heavy hearts, dozens of Democrats Abroad members gathered for a vigil near Toronto’s U.S. consulate on the sunny Sunday afternoon after the deadly rampage at Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. The consulate’s U.S. flag stood at half-mast as DA members voiced their determination that, this time, strong positive measures to control the sale of guns would have to follow the usual expressions and symbols of grief.
    Democrats Abroad Toronto vice-chair Danielle Stampley said that the vigil was an occasion to express solidarity with the victims and survivors of the shooting and to launch action for change: “This is not acceptable. We have been acting as though nothing can be done. We can do something about this. Let’s commit to taking action.”
    Vigil participants read out the names and short descriptions of the victims. The list included students and teachers, boys and men, and girls and women, who ranged in age from 14 to 49:
    • Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, was a soccer team member who had just had what her mother called “the best game of her life” on Feb. 13.
    • Martin Duque Anguiano, 14, was freshman who, according to his brother, was “a very funny kid, outgoing, and sometimes really quiet.”
    • Scott Beigel, 35, was a teacher who brought students into his classroom before he was killed himself. One parent says that Mr. Beigel saved her son’s life.
    • Jaime Guttenberg, 14. Her father posted on Facebook: “I am broken as I write this, trying to figure out how my family gets through this.”
    • Aaron Feis, 37, was a football coach who also attempted to save students. A graduate of the school, he always tried to help those who were struggling.
    • Nicholas Dworet was a high school swimmer who visited the University of Indianapolis recently. He said that he wanted to swim there after his graduation this year.
    • Christopher Hixon, 49, was the school’s athletic director and a prominent figure in high school sports in Florida.
    • Luke Hoyer, 15, was an aspiring basketball player. “He loved his family, he had a huge heart,” said his cousin.
    • Cara Loughran, 14, was an excellent student. Her aunt wrote on Facebook: “We are absolutely gutted…..while your thoughts are appreciated, I beg you to DO SOMETHING….”
    • Gina Montalto, 14, was said to be a member of the school’s winter color guard team. A Facebook tribute to her said: “we lost a beautiful soul tonight.”
    • Joaquin Oliver, 17, played basketball in the city’s recreational league. He was also a writer who filled a notebook with poetry.
    • Helena Ramsey, 17, would have started college next year. A relative wrote on Facebook: “…she had a relentless motivation toward her academic studies…”
    • Alaina Petty, 14, was a member of a volunteer group with the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. She helped with clean-up work after Hurricane Irma.
    • Meadow Pollack, 18, was a senior who planned to go to a nearby college next year. A relative said that “she was a very strong-willed young girl who had everything going for her.”
    • Alex Schachter, 14, played the trombone in the school’s marching band. His father said that “he was a sweetheart of a kid.”
    • Carmen Schentrup was a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. Her cousin said in a Facebook post that she was the smartest 16-year-old that he had ever met.
    • Peter Wang, 15, helped his cousin, Aaron, to adjust when Aaron started living in Florida. “He was always so nice and generous,” said Aaron.
    After the reading of the list, Toronto chapter chair Julie Buchanan said that “Canadians care about this shooting too.” She stressed the need to get out the vote and to vote out the politicians who take money from the NRA. Hamilton chapter chair and former Democrats Abroad chair Ken Sherman sadly recalled a gathering of DA members in Toronto after the 2011 shooting of U.S. House of Representatives member Gabby Giffords. Sherman read a statement by Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Tom Perez, which stressed that people should not be afraid to go a shopping mall, baseball field, or movie theater. Sherman, who is a member of the DNC, called on Congress to enact a ban on automatic rifles and to enhance background checks

    .

    Democrats Abroad Canada Steve Nardi ended the vigil by stating the firm resolve that “this has got to stop.” He called on Americans living in Canada to encourage other Americans to go to votefromabroad.org so that they can vote this year for political leaders who will enact measures to protect U.S. communities from deadly violence.


    The Democrats Abroad vigil was covered by CTV, CBC, and CP24. DA’s pledge to take action for peace is being heard. Will it be heeded?
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  • The Vietnam Project: 50 years of striving for peace and justice

    Democrats Abroad Toronto is planning a meeting of DA members who moved to Canada during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The meeting will be an opportunity to talk about developing a people’s history of that era.

    Sunday, April 29, 2 pm, community room at 71 Charles St. East, Toronto.

    Many Democrats Abroad members first came Canada in the late 1960s or early 1970s. At that time, Americans’ moves to Canada were often motivated by a need to resist participation in the Vietnam War. Many Americans who came to Canada put down roots in the country and became permanent residents. At the same time, they remained loyal to their identities as Americans and never lost their hope that the U.S. would fully realize the belief of its founders that "all men are created equal."

    Half a century after the eruption of the Vietnam War as major conflict, members of Democrats Abroad want to talk about ways to gather some of the stories of those who came to Canada during that period. We want to do the gathering in a way that reveals events and motives, but at the same time protects the privacy of the story tellers. There are two purposes for this initiative: to develop a record of our personal and political lives, and to discover the contemporary relevance of resistance to the Vietnam War and other wars.

    Democrats Abroad Toronto members who came to Canada during those years are invited to a meeting on Sunday, April 29, at 2 pm in the community room at Paxton Place, 71 Charles St. E., Toronto. The person at the front desk can provide direction to the room. The meeting will be an opportunity to share stories and make plans for written stories, interviews, videos, and possibly a public meeting. An email invitation to the meeting will be sent to members at the end of March. The time and place announced on the website are definite.

    If you would like more information about this project, please contact Virginia Smith at peace@democratsabroad.ca

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  • Views from Canada ~ Apocalypse then: Looking back at the Vietnam War after half a century

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           by: Virginia Smith Feb 13 2018

    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.

     

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  • published Calling All Democrats Abroad in News 2018-01-07 03:48:51 -0500

    Calling All Democrats Abroad

    This January we need everyone to join the effort! We need you to go here and request your ballot. AND we need you to help the Toronto Chapter reach out to our thousands of members who haven’t heard from for us in a while. We need to update their updated information to send them voting information! Our goal is to do this January 31st!

    This event has passed, but phoning Democrats will be happening all year long! 

     

     

    What: Phoning Democrats in Toronto and Canada

    When: Sunday, January 14 - 10 am - 1 pm

     

    Where: Artscape Youngplace
    180 Shaw Street,
    Suite 314 the Office of Inspirit Foundation
    Toronto M6J2W5

    We  had  coffee, tea and light snacks,  brought our laptops and even got occupy an office or two for easy phoning. 

    Danielle Stampley was there to walk us  through the  steps. Brooke Scott organized the event and Kate Leuschen Millar arranged for the space. What a great teamwork.  Here are some pictures of the days heroes.

     

     

    You can phone from your from the comfort of your own place!

    If you are new to phonebanking or just need a refresher, you can find sign-up instructions and training materials on our website at: www.democratsabroad.org/phonebanking Join the campaign for DACA Membership. 

    Phone campaigns, run from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm and Democrats Abroad strictly uses CallHub program to make calls.

    If you are already a phonebanking volunteer, just go to https://callhub.io to login to your CallHub account and join the campaign for DACA Membership. You can check out the script here: Script DACA Membership Verification

     

    Brooke Scott, volunteer-toronto@democratsabroad.ca
    Volunteer Co-ordinator, Toronto Chapter

    RSVP here - Event has passed!

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  • Women's Caucus Event January 20th- Women March On

    WOMEN MARCH ON - Defining Our Future - Saturday, January 20, 2018

    Two hours before the Toronto Women’s March 1/20/18 the Women’s Caucus organized a meet up at the Richtree Natural Market in the Eaton Centre for conversation. The excitement and determination from last year’s March was undiminished, evidenced in our turnout. The common cause of empowerment and creating community for progress united new friends and set the table for future Caucus events. ~ Brooke Scott, Co-Chair DA Women's Caucus Toronto






    We keep the  RSVPs for the event Here.

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  • Larry Cohen, Chair of Our Revolution, in Toronto - Saturday, January 20, 2018

    Democrats Abroad and Our Revolution are hosting an event with Larry Cohen following  the Women March On event. A highly respected Union Leader in the US and Canada, Cohen was head of the 700,000 member Communications Workers of America. Cohen is a member of the DNC and joined the Sanders campaign in 2015. Our Revolution hopes to leverage the success of the Sanders campaign to transform America and advance a progressive agenda.

    When: 4:00 p.m.

    Where: Jack Astor's Bar and Grill, 133 John St - note this is  venue change  from original post

    An informal gathering is planned to follow the presentation.  RSVP soon!

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  • Women March On-Defining our Future Jan 20 2018

    Check back here as we add photos from this historical day!

     

     

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  • Giving thanks for the gifts of resistance and change

    by Virginia Smith


    Over 50 DA members and their families gathered at Toronto's Globe Bistro on Thanksgiving to express their gratitude for both their capacity to resist and their firm resolve to change the U.S.'s political direction next year. They also had fun together as they enjoyed a traditional turkey dinner. London-based members Gena Brummit, the chair of the London Chapter, and Marnelle Dragila, an officer of DA Canada, drove to Toronto to bring greetings and join the celebration.

    The evening was hosted by Toronto vice-chair Nathan Lujan, who welcomed diners to the annual dinner. Various DA members took the microphone to voice their thoughts about the significance of the day and about upcoming DA projects. Toronto member Virginia Smith talked about the Vietnam Project, which will reflect on the ongoing relevance of the experiences of Americans who came to Canada in the early 1970s.

    A humorous quiz about the first year of the Trump administration was circulated by DA Canada vice-chair Ed Ungar, who led diners through a list of questions that seemed to have no right answers. Isn't that what the last year has been like for most of us? A book was the prize for the winner in this apparently no-win situation.

    Two of the quiz questions were (answers below, no cheating!):

    1. What Fox headline crawl represented the network's greatest hope for development?

    a. Obama admits that he can't match Trump's eloquence.

    b. Trump: eventually, we will get something done.

    c. Early returns look like GOP Virginia sweep.

    d. Kelly's praise of Trump sincere!

    2. According to Trump, what can you not be?

    a. too rich

    b. too thin

    c. too humble

    d. too greedy

    The evening closed with good will to all and a renewe sense of purpose to work for change in the U.S. Congress by Thanksgiving day 2018. Summing up the evening, Toronto chair Julie Buchanan expressed gratitude to all those who contributed to the occasion, including David Markham, who donated the portable sound system that enabled speakers to communicate with the big group as a whole. It was a great evening spent with friends old and new. There was good food and good service. The annual Thanksgiving event creates a sense of family among Democrats Abroad members.



    Quiz answers: 1. b, 2. d


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Serving my country from abroad, I have never felt stronger together with my American Democrat "family" in Canada.