The Big Business of War is Making a Killing!
CANSEC 2010, Canada's Largest Weapons Bazaar returns to Ottawa!
By Richard Sanders

On June 2 and 3, Ottawa's fairgrounds will be abuzz with thousands of people, but there won't be a kid in sight.  This exhibition at Lansdowne Park won't include Ferris wheels, haunted houses, cotton candy, or roller coaster rides to turn your stomach.

However, if you're looking for gut-wrenching military weapons, large or small, you're in the right place.  This is CANSEC 2010, Canada's largest weapons bazaar.  Thousands of buyers, sellers, users and promoters of the latest technologies for war and repression will be rubbing shoulders at this huge, private event. Cloaking themselves behind a wall of deceptive euphemisms, like "defence" and "security," hundreds of highly-profitable Canadian corporations will showcase their deadly wares.

CANSEC exhibitors manufacture various cutting-edge technologies from air-launched missiles and armoured battle vehicles, to high-tech electronics for the world's deadliest warplanes, multi-million dollar gizmos for the militarisation of space, automatic weapons, tear-gas rifles or other down-to-earth crowd-control devices for keeping pesky protesters in line.

Talent scouts from the world's biggest war industries will also be there, looking for Canadian subcontractors to make components for major weapons systems that have wreaked havoc in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza and elsewhere.

Military attaches from foreign embassies will be on hand to see what Canadian corporations have to offer.  Most of Canada's military production is exported, and most of it goes to the US.

Top Canadian politicians, flanked by government bureaucrats, will pontificate on the need to further escalate military spending.

War is certainly big business and business will be booming at CANSEC.  In fact, the business association that organises CANSEC has never been bigger. It now boasts 800 member companies. This lobby group -- the so-called "Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries" -- is funded by the Canadian government to promote military exports. 

This year's effort against CANSEC is the latest chapter in a struggle that began over two decades ago when the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) campaigned against ARMX, a now-defunct arms bazaar. COAT's work against ARMX led the City of Ottawa to prohibit using arms exhibitions on municipal property.  

CANSEC is returning to Lansdowne this spring because last year City Council overturned this municipality's historic 20-year ban on arms shows.  
COAT has brought together a network of activists from many different groups to expose CANSEC and its role in fuelling wars and repression around the world.  Here's how you can help:
(1) Rally for Peace, June 2 (5-7 pm)
While a who's who of Canada's military-industrial-political complex, and their closest foreign friends, stage their fancy-dress dinner inside CANSEC, we'll hold a large rally for peace. Join us for inspiring music and great speakers at the Bank Street entrance to Lansdowne. CANSEC organisers say their gala reception is "designed to optimize interactions with current and potential contacts, clients and stakeholders."  Join us in "optimising interactions" with friends and fellow activists in the struggles for peace, the environment, human rights, democracy and Third-World solidarity. 
(2) Surround CANSEC with Peace Symbols
We will decorate the fence around CANSEC with messages of peace and imaginative anti-war symbols, cartoons, photos, famous quotations, poetry, and more.  This is an opportunity to send messages to CANSEC participants, peace activists, passers by, and the media.  Bring your material to the Bank Street entrance to CANSEC on June 2.  We are collecting anti-war symbols and messages online at our Facebook page called: "Don't Sit on deFence, Decorate it! Surround a War Bazaar with Peace Symbols"
(3) Help Make June 2 a Day of Peace
We hope groups will organise creative peace activities outside CANSEC's Bank Street entrance sometime during the day on June 2.  Organisations could hold an hour-long vigil, put on some street theatre, unfurl a huge banner, hold a peaceful sit-in, bring some giant puppets, distribute fliers, or engage in dialogue with attendees as they enter or exit CANSEC.  Let COAT know what you're planning and we'll help publicise it.
(4) Take a Stand
Ask organisations to take a position on CANSEC.  This may involve passing a resolution, making a public statement, issuing a media release, writing a letter to the government or media, joining our efforts on June 2, or endorsing COAT's campaign.
(5) Spread the Word
The COAT website has various materials and resources for spreading the word about CANSEC, raising public awareness about Canada's war industries and building support for our June-2 Peace Rally. 

(6) Read and distribute "CANSEC: War is Business." 
COAT has published a 50-page issue of its magazine, Press for Conversion!, called: "CANSEC: War is Business."
This magazine can be read for free online.  Hard copies are also available for $8, or at reduced prices when ordered in bulk.  Please get some copies for your friends, colleagues, fellow activists, journalists, politicians or anyone else who should know more about Canada's role in the international arms trade.  And, while you're at it, you could also subscribe, or renew your subscription!  Order online:
Donate to COAT's campaign
Sorry to say but we do also need some financial support to help cover the expenses of this work.  Unlike the organisers of CANSEC, we're not funded by the federal government!  Please send any donation you can spare, large or small, to the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) and earmark it "Oppose CANSEC."  Use the link above to transfer funds online using "Paypal," or just mail us a donation the old-fashioned way:
541 McLeod St.
Ottawa ON  K1R 5R2

Richard Sanders is coordinator of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT). For more information about CANSEC, and how you can get involved in this year's efforts, see the COAT website.

Weblinks to information about CANSEC and COAT's opposition to it