War profiteers not welcome in Canada! Opposition organized to Ottawa weapons fair

By NICK LIN

MakeCanadaZonePeace-CapturingPeaceThe annual CANSEC weapons fair is being held in Ottawa May 29 and 30. Anti-war activists are holding a protest during the opening speech by Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan on May 29. Two other federal ministers – Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement – and Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff will also deliver keyote addresses. The “weapons fair” is organized by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), involving some 900 corporations. It  has been hosted annually in Ottawa since 1998 and just as often opposed by the people of that city.

This is an opportunity for everyone to oppose the arms trade, war production, the militarization of life and Canada’s integration with U.S. war production and wars of aggression and regime change. This “weapons fair” glorifies war and Canada’s role in the global arms trade and its own massive increases in military spending in response to U.S. pressure for NATO members to do so.

Working people are confronted with all-sided pressure to submit to Canada’s integration into the U.S. war machine, and the militarization of life that comes with it. Within this scenario, weapons fairs are presented as just another business convention, rather than the unacceptable convergence of war profiteers, seeking profit from the destruction of the natural and social environment, in support of U.S. imperialist aims. It must not pass!

To underscore Canada’s role in appeasing and supporting U.S. imperialist aggression worldwide, one need look no further than a 2017 report tabled in Parliament, which blithely declares that because Canada is so integrated into the U.S. war machine, it is of no interest to inform Canadians of the extent of arms sales to the U.S.:

“Global Affairs Canada does not collect data on most military exports to the United States. Canada and the U.S. have had a Defence Production Sharing Agreement in place since the 1950s, which has helped create an integrated North American technological and industrial base and supported Canada-U.S. trade. As a result, most military items shipped between Canada and the U.S. do not require permits and are therefore not included in the data presented in this report.”

Manufacturing Yes! Nation-Wrecking No!

In Canada, the slogan of nation-building has been taken up with the demand that manufacturing benefit the people, not the rich. It is not acceptable to have the government and its foreign affairs department, as well as military personnel, act as brokers and intermediaries for arms manufacturers operating in Canada, so that they can sell their wares abroad including to regimes such as that of Saudi Arabia waging a genocidal war against Yemen. It is working people the world over who suffer the consequences of Canada’s destructive role in the global arms trade.

2018.12.22-SaintJohn-SaudiArabiaArmsDealProtest-DFrank-crop

Protest in Saint John, NB, December 22, 2018, against Canada’s multi-billion dollar sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia for use in its war against Yemen. The vehicles are produced in London, ON.

The website of the Department of National Defence (DND) lists various forms of government support for arms exporters. “Learn how the Department of National Defence can assist in connecting Canadian industry to foreign markets,” explains one section. Another notes: “Learn how the Department of National Defence keeps Canadian companies informed of business opportunities at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).”

Based in 30 diplomatic posts around the world (with cross-accreditation to many neighbouring countries), Canadian Defence Attachés promote military exports. According to DND’s website, Defence Attachés assist “Canadian defence manufacturers in understanding and accessing foreign defence markets […] facilitate Canadian industry access to relevant officials within the Ministries of Defence of accredited countries […] support Canadian industry at key defence industry events in accredited countries […] raise awareness in accredited countries of Canadian defence industrial capabilities […] provide reports on accredited country defence budget information, items of interest, and trade issues to Canadian industry.”

DND representatives often promote Canadian military equipment as part of delegations to international arms fairs, such as the UK’s Defence Security and Equipment International exhibition. In February, representatives of DND helped 50 Canadian arms companies flog their wares at the Abu Dhabi-based International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), the largest arms fair in the Middle East, according to a FrontLine Defence story titled “Representing Canada in the UAE IDEX.”

Working people should reject arms production in Canada and work to have an economy that serves the needs of Canadians, not the warmongers. It fundamentally requires taking up the work for democratic renewal, to break the stranglehold of the cartel parties on political power, so that Canadians can exercise control over the direction of the economy.

No! to the global arms trade and Canada’s participation in it!

Nothing Is More Destructive to the Natural and Social  Environment than War

Great concern is being expressed by all sectors, especially the youth, about the state of the natural environment and its effect on human society and the entire planet earth. It is said to be one of the most pressing issues facing humanity at this time.

2015.11.29-WindsorClimateChangeMarch-02cr2Faced with such a situation, it is more important than ever to emphasize the tremendous pollution and outright destruction caused by war, and that the planet’s biggest polluter is the worldwide U.S. war machine, which includes the activities of countries like Canada that are appeasers of U.S. imperialism. The U.S. military is one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. U.S. bases around the globe have resulted in 19 million hectares of land being heavily contaminated with materials that include depleted uranium, oil, jet fuel, pesticides, defoliants such as Agent Orange, and lead. Canadian bases are also contaminated and the U.S. routinely refuses to decontaminate the bases it leaves behind. The U.S. military is said to produce more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies together. The U.S. has conducted more nuclear weapons tests than all other nations combined, and is also responsible for the massive amount of radiation that continues to contaminate many islands in the Pacific Ocean.[1] And this is to say nothing about the massive destruction caused by open warfare the U.S. has carried out all over the world, including conflicts where Canada has been an active participant. In Iraq, for example, U.S. military action has resulted in the desertification of 90 per cent of Iraqi territory, turning it from a food exporter into one that has to import 80 per cent of its food.[2]

For governments, such as the Trudeau Liberals, to portray themselves as defenders of the natural environment by promoting carbon tax schemes while integrating Canada into the U.S. war machine is not acceptable, while those in waiting openly tout militarization and war.

To be effective in defending Mother Earth, Canadians must empower themselves politically, so that the issue of protecting the natural environment can be considered in a profound way and the need to oppose war and related activities, like the CANSEC weapons fair, argued out with conviction.

Make Canada a Zone for Peace!

Canadians, and especially Quebeckers, in the main reject Canada’s involvement in U.S.-led aggression and war – they want Canada to be a genuine force for peace in the world. So too must they reject Canada’s involvement in weapons manufacturing and sales to feed the U.S. war machine.

The working class of Canada is made up of the sons and daughters of the countries of the world. Many have even come to Canada to escape war and conflict. They do not want to be part of the U.S. war machine or involved in war production.

2018.07.14-TorontoPeoplesRallyonQueensPark-17Working people do not accept the Canadian government’s refusal to defend the manufacturing jobs Canada needs, while its Cabinet ministers and military personnel serve as brokers for the arms industry. They want a manufacturing sector in Canada that provides for what Canadians require, and reject nation-wrecking by companies that treat Canada’s economy as an outpost in their global empire. They reject the nation-wrecking of the arms manufacturers and war profiteers who destroy other peoples, countries and the natural environment so as to line their pockets.

Making Canada a Zone for Peace, which ends war production and destruction of the natural and social environment, and upholds the cause of peace everywhere requires taking up the work for political empowerment and making a break from the cartel party system that blocks the people from speaking in their own name. These anti-democratic parties of the rich give rise to governments over which the people can exercise no control and whose aim is to serve narrow private interests – as seen in the SNC-Lavalin scandal – or to serve NATO and the U.S. war machine. Governments in which the people have no say can only mean more misfortune for the people. The times are crying out for new arrangements.

Notes

  1. “U.S. Military Is World’s Biggest Polluter,” Mint Press News, May 15, 2017.
  2. “U.S. Department of Defense is the Worst Polluter on the Planet,” Project Censored, October 2, 2010.

(Photos: TML, K. Tarasoff, D. Frank)

TML Weekly, May 25, 2019, No. 19. Slightly edited for this publication.

Related reading on this site

The global arms trade

Background on Canada-Ukraine defence agreement: A ‘rich, mutually beneficial’ arms trade

Canada-Ukraine Defence Agreement – An arms agreement for war

1 Comment

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One response to “War profiteers not welcome in Canada! Opposition organized to Ottawa weapons fair

  1. Pingback: The global arms trade | Tony Seed's Weblog

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