Banning Anti-War Posters and Un-banning War Shows
By Richard Sanders, Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT)
It's a topsy-turvy world and Ottawa is no exception.
Where else would anti-war posters be banned for inciting hatred, while international arms bazaars pretending to promote peace are un-banned?
Crazy? Yes. But this is exactly what happened. Let's start with the infamous posters.
Banning Anti-War Art
First, let's be clear, AH-64 attack helicopters are levellers!
They easily level people (including children), and the infrastructure they rely upon. It's really bad news when these war machines are sighted overhead. Unless of course you're at an air show in North America, Europe or Israel, and these warbirds are just performers shelling out good wholesome family entertainment.
But for ordinary people in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan and other killing fields, AH-64s never provide a fun afternoon with the kids. Like other major US-made weapons, they represent the cutting of edge of state-sponsored terror.
It's not surprising then that Carlos Latoff, a Brazillian cartoonist and rights advocate, depicted an AH-64 targeting a Palestinian child.
AH-64s, along with Israel's F-15 and F-16 warplanes, were recently used to bombard Gaza's densely-populated civilian neighbourhoods. At least 1380 people, including more than 430 children, were killed.
This is a war crime.
But according to the Carleton University's administration, it is the artwork -- not Israeli attacks -- that deserve condemnation. These posters, Carleton authorities say, may "incite others to infringe [human] rights" and are "insensitive to the norms of civil discourse in a free and democratic society." 
Students posting the controversial graphics are threatened with expulsion and Carleton's president, Roseanne Runte, said the posters "were incite hatred."
But when 56 Carleton professors asked Runte to join them in condemning human rights violations caused by Israel's bombing of a Gaza university, she refused.
This is a double standard.
Similarly, when Israel's indiscriminate attacks wounded 5,300 (more than half of whom were women and children), and totally or partially levelled 22,000 housing units, 92 mosques and 29 schools, several top Canadian government officials condemned Palestinians as the cause of violence.
This is blaming the victim.
Unbanning Arms Bazaars
Now, take international weapons shows, please!
These events are actually levellers too!
They bring together hundreds of military exporters, both large and small.
Suits from more than 200 companies will be flogging their wares at CANSEC, Canada's largest arms show. Browsing the stalls at Ottawa's Lansdowne Park this May 27-28 will be multi-billion dollar war behemoths like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and other prime weapons contractors. Rubbing shoulders with these well-heeled "merchants of death" will be representatives from lesser companies churning out small but essential high-tech components for war machines.
This will be the first time in twenty years that an arms bazaar will be hosted by the City of Ottawa. That's because back in 1989, during a high-profile COAT campaign, Council banned all arms shows from municipal property! 
But City Staff now claim that by some legal technicality, Ottawa's ban no longer applies to Lansdowne! 
And so, Canada's war manufacturers -- scattered across this country like razors concealed in a loaf of bread -- are now aiming for Lansdowne. Many produce machined parts, electronics and software shipped stateside for assembly into the world's deadliest machines. Others proudly crank out ammunition, handy machine guns, armoured vehicles and air-to-ground missiles that fire phosphorous and cluster bombs. All in a day's work, eh?
In a recent report, COAT identifies 142 Canadian military companies with direct exports to Israel. Another 53 equip AH-64s, F-15s and F-16s, the US weapons used against Gaza. Of course, this export should be banned, not artwork exposing atrocities.
CANSEC will also attract thousands of government buyers and military users from across Canada, the US and around the world.
They will all gather in Ottawa this Spring.
But so too will levellers of a different persuasion -- people who see ultraviolence and its purveyors as a scourge upon humanity.
Join us in standing for peace and human rights.

"Stop the Arms Bazaars!
 Information and Strategy Session to Oppose CANSEC"
March 24, 7 pm.
Southminster United Church
15 Aylmer Ave at Bank Street
(Just south of Rideau Canal.)

Visit COAT's website:

This web page is part of a campaign to expose and oppose CANSEC 2009, Canada's largest military industry trade show. CANSEC 2009 will be hosted by the City of Ottawa at Lansdowne Park, May 27-28, 2009. Please join us in exposing and opposing CANSEC!  Click here to read more about our CAMPAIGN.

Related material:

COAT report:
Canadian Military Exports to Israel: Aiding and Abetting War Crimes in Gaza (2008-2009).
The report includes 10 detailed tables filled with data detailing about 200 Canadian military companies that have direct or indirect export links to Israel.  Many of these companies are members of CADSI, the organizers of CANSEC.

Here is an article that ties together the issues in this report and the campaign against CANSEC:
Canadian Military Exports, War Crimes in Gaza and Ottawa's Arms Bazaar