Anti-war protesters greet Harper in Burnaby
Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses supporters a federal election rally at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Toronto Airport in Toronto on Thursday April 14, 2011. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI AGENCY)
BURNABY, B.C. -- A group of about three dozen anti-war demonstrators greeted the Conservative campaign Saturday, chanting and jeering outside a rally in B.C.'s Lower Mainland.
"We're here to say it's time the war was an issue in this election," said protest organizer Derrick O'Keefe, with Vancouver-based peace group, the StopWar Coalition.
"We don't think precious taxpayer money and young lives should be going to prop up drug traffickers and warlords."
O'Keefe said the fact the Afghan detainee documents will be kept sealed until after the election is helping keep a lid on the issue.
Inside, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper spoke to a room filled with about 750 party faithful.
Earlier in the day Harper acknowledged Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, but said the combat mission will end soon and the future training mission will be safer for Canadian troops.
"Obviously there is significantly less risk to our military personnel there than there has been in combat missions," he said.
"But are there still risks."
O'Keefe said his group was non-partisan, but noted that Burnaby-Douglas had a history of electing NDP MPs opposed to getting Canada involved in wars. The rally was being held in the riding, which the Tories hope to flip to their fold.
"We don't endorse any candidates and we don't have any illusions it would make a difference anyway," O'Keefe said.
The Harper campaign stays in the Lower Mainland until Sunday afternoon, then heads to Yellowknife.