Thousands of protesters opposed to a military strike against Iraq are holding demonstrations in big and small communities across the country this weekend.

Union leaders, peace activists and some politicians stood outside the Ontario legislature Saturday and urged the U.S. and its allies not to attack Iraq.

Police watched from a distance some on bicycles and horseback as about 2,000 people cheered anti-war speeches.

"The war against Iraq will have a horrific impact against innocent civilians," said Marilyn Churley, an NDP member of the provincial parliament. "Canada should take back our traditional role as peace-makers and say no to war."

The protesters branded American foreign policies as imperialistic. Some carried placards reading "Don't Attack Iraq" and "Love Heals". Others played drums and sang as they marched from the legislature to the U.S. consulate.

Similar rallies were held Saturday in smaller communities across B.C., in Prince George, Penticton, Grand Forks and Nelson. About 150 people showed up for a protest in Regina, and a few dozen turned out for anti-war speeches at the University of Brandon.

More demonstrations were planned for Sunday in several major cities, including Vancouver, Victoria, Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax.

The first United Nations weapons inspectors are set to arrive in Iraq on Monday to enforce a UN resolution that Iraq destroy any weapons of mass destruction it may be building.

The resolution warns Iraq that it faces "serious consequences" for not complying. The United States has told Baghdad to either co-operate and disarm or face an attack.