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It was the day after Valentine’s Day and tens of thousands said ’make love not war’ as they marched for peace through the streets of Vancouver; marched against George Bush as he recklessly pushes the world to the brink of war.

CUPE’s pink flags fluttered overhead as national president Judy Darcy, CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Colleen Jordan and Hospital Employees’ Union president Fred Muzin led members through the city.

“We are saying to the Canadian government, do not support a war in Iraq,” Darcy told a CTV reporter during the march. She later delivered a fiery speech to the huge crowd amassed at the art gallery.

As the rain began, a tent city of umbrellas sprung up. Some of them were black, some had “War sucks” hand-lettered on them. A wall of signs and banners thrust out of the umbrellas. “Stop mad cowboy disease,” said one. “No more blood for oil”, “Weapons inspectors into America”, and “Smoke weed not Baghdad” were prominent.

Many young people painted the ban the bomb symbol on their cheeks and carried “Make love not war” signs. “Candy not bombs”, said a sign carried by three young women who offered marchers chocolate buds. Another said, “War is just terrorism with a bigger budget”.

President George Bush was clearly the target of much of the anger. “America your emperor has no clothes”, said one placard. Others said: “Let children grow up not blow up”, “Stop George W. Hitler”, and “Somewhere in Texas there is a village without an idiot.”

“I am here as a CUPE member, fighting for democracy and global equality,” said Local 728 member Steve Wilding. It was a view shared by a crowd from many walks of life and many perspectives, all there with one goal in common: Stop the war.