Militarization of Canadian Ports: No Harbour for War!


AN IMPORTANT FEATURE of the Marine Transportation Security Regulations implemented by executive order on 16 November 2006 is the militarization of the Canadian ports. Federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon also announced $42 million in funding for 386 security projects at 101 marine facilities across the country. Details of the projects were kept under wraps.

Much of the funding for marine security goes to the military and the RCMP. A total of $115 million has been earmarked over five years to “modernize” security systems at Canada’s ports.

The Port of Halifax was awarded $12.5 million in funding to implement “a port-wide security network.” “The funding will allow for full integration of 14 private and public facilities around Halifax Harbour.” The funding is part of Round 3 of the federal government’s Marine Security Contribution Program which supports security projects through applications by Canadian ports.

All these measures are being introduced in conformity with U.S. demands that Canada militarize its harbours, provide safe havens for its naval fleet, and enhance the colossal profits of its global shipping and oil cartels by putting the port infrastructure at the service of expediting transportation of maximum goods in minimum amount of time to the continental United States.

For example, sixty per cent of the containers passing through Halifax, Canada’s third-largest container port, handling 525,000 containers a year (Montreal and Vancouver ship 1.2 million and 1.3 million containers a year respectively), are in transit to the U.S., and are not even checked by Canada customs. The two major container piers, Halterm and Fairview, are owned by U.S. monopolies. The Autoport is owned by CN Rail, whose railroads stretch right into the industrial heartland of the U.S. and run as far south as the port of New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico.

Internationally, the militarization of Canadian ports and the “Pacific Gateway” and “Atlantic Gateway” plans form a component part of the drive of the North American monopolies for domination of the world ocean, the strategic sealanes, shipping canals and straits – what the U.S. naval strategists call “choke points.”

With “terrorism” replacing the Soviet Union as the menace, the militarization of Canadian ports is being accelerated. Citing drug and arms trafficking, organized crime and “new transnational threats,” the media float fear-mongering stories, ludicrous anthrax scares, fictitious Al Qaeda “sleeper cells,” attacks on container shipping, missile-smuggling through the port, and even convict the longshoremen for suspect loyalties. U.S. Homeland Security now extends into the major harbours of Canada, home to CIA and FBI units protected under Bill C-55 as part of the “national security” state.

TML calls on Canadian workers, women and youth to pay attention to the actual context of the annexationist decisions which the Conservatives on the heels of the Liberals are taking. The port workers too have to reconsider how they defend and advance their struggles to defend their rights and to improve wages and working conditions in the light of Bush’s warning that “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

The Canadian working class and people must reject the militarization of Canada’s ports by stepping up the work to empower themselves and form an anti-war government.

No Harbour for War!

Source: TML Daily, February 2, 2007 – No. 16

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Filed under No Harbour for War (Halifax)

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