CANSEC's Free Publicity in News across Canada,
May 12, 2010.
An article about the CANSEC weapons trade show called "DND lets staff take trade-show freebies" was published on the front page of The Ottawa Citizen, May 12. It was also published in numerous daily newspapers across Canada under the title "Changes to DND hospitality rules at military trade show raising eyebrows." It reads like a free promotion for Canada's largest weapons trade show.
The article served out a very "faint critique" of Canada's top war-industry exhibition. The worst thing the article manages to say about CANSEC is that some people find it questionable that DND is bending the rules to allow armed forces personnel to receive free meals while attending this arms bazaar.
Please send a letter to the papers listed below.
Tell them some of the real reasons why people like you oppose CANSEC.
Click a publication name below to see the article as it appears on their site. Click below each publication name to send your letter to the editor. You can send your email to each one of them. Maybe one will publish it!
The Province (Vancouver)
Times Colonist (Victoria)
Sample letter (Don't copy the wording of this letter. Use your own words. Make it personal)
Click the link above for a short sample letter, written by Richard Sanders (coordinator, COAT) which was sent to the above newspapers, May 13, 2010.
Read "Some tips on writing a letter" below
A Review of the
Nothing was said in this article about how the CANSEC arms trade show helps fuel wars and repression around the world. Neither was anything said about the fact that war industries exhibiting at CANSEC have received literally billions of dollars in handouts from the federal government to help them develop and export their military technologies.
David Pugliese's article notes that DND "suspended some of the rules governing the acceptance of hospitality from the private sector." He then quotes "defence analyst" Steve Staples, president of the Rideau Institute, saying "he was surprised the defence leadership was overriding its own rules."
First of all, there isn't anything surprising about this little controversy. As reported in COAT's magazine last year, DND issued a similar memo in March 2009 allowing military personnel to accept free meals at CANSEC 2009. (See the section, "Free lunch anyone?" in CANSEC: War is Business," Nov. 2009, p.13.)
Secondly, peace activists should find it disturbing that the article uses the euphemism "defence" a dozen times, instead of the neutral, un-spun term "military." Meanwhile, "war" only appears once in the article, buried inside the name Paul Dewar!
Of course the words "peace," "protest" and "human rights" are never mentioned. Neither is there any indication that readers should consider a more substantial or meaningful critique of this military trade show, other than merely "raising eyebrows" over whether free food should be they should be doled out to the troops in attendance.
In short, the article missed the point about why CANSEC is controversial.
The article makes no mention of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, or the 20-year City of Ottawa ban that COAT inspired back in 1989 which stopped all arms shows from being held at Lansdowne Park until 2009. It didn't mention that there was a real controversy last year over whether Council should welcome the CANSEC arms show back onto municipal property. Although the article is ostensibly focused on an possible reason for objecting to CANSEC, there is no mention that COAT is planning a "Rally for Peace" to protest the CANSEC arms trade show this year, on June 2, between 5 and 7 pm. This would be considered inappropriate.
The newspaper would not want to be giving free advertising to such public, peace events. The paper does however consider it appropriate to promote the privately-run, no-public-allowed, CANSEC arms trade show. Last year, widespread grassroots opposition to CANSEC was reflected in the fact that thousands signed petitions to oppose the arms show and about 50 organisations sent delegations to present briefs to a City Council committee. The Anglican Bishop of Ottawa wrote a letter to City Council opposing CANSEC, as did the Ottawa Presbytery of the United Church of Canada which represents 80 congregations with 20,000 members. None of these facts were mentioned in The Citizen last year. And, when about four hundred people attended a peace event with music and speakers from many groups representing public opposition to CANSEC 2009, it too was completely and utterly ignored by The Citizen.
The Citizen article about CANSEC concludes with a very nice quotation from the show's main organiser, Tim Page, President of the so-called "Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries." His fine words reinforce the whole idea -- repeated throughout the article -- that CANSEC is all about "defence." Because Page is given the final word in the article, his self-serving comments become, essentially, the author's own conclusion:
"Historically, DND has been the most important customer group at CANSEC.... We believe there is value for DND and CF personnel to see and learn, first hand, about the industrial capabilities that are available to them so that they may do their jobs safely and effectively."
What good patriotic Canadian could disagree with that?
CADSI, the organisation behind the CANSEC arms show, clearly wasn't bothered by The Citizen article. In fact, they proudly posted a link to it on their website. The article effectively gave them free, advance, front-page publicity for their event. This, as we have seen, is something that The Citizen has been loath to do for anti-CANSEC, peace events. But in this article, The Citizen not only announced that Canadian armed forces personnel and DND staffers are invited to attend the CANSEC "defence" show on June 2-3, the article also made it abundantly clear that those attending might also reasonably expect to get a free meal deal!
Imagine if peace activists organising a protest against Canada's war industry got similar treatment in the media? Imagine if the media ran front page articles "raising eyebrows" because the public was going to get "free meals" when they attended a peace rally? Nice! Would we put up with this "faint critique' in order to get all that free publicity? The only trouble is that the peace movement can't afford to hand out free meals to folks who join us at antiwar protests, and we aren't likely to get big corporations or the government to cover the bill for dishing out food at our events.
Very tellingly, a link to The Citizen article about CANSEC appears on a webpage called "Building a buzz at a trade show with a limited budget." The heading on this webpage is "Trade Show Tips: Advice and Tips on How to Survive Your Next Trade Show." That about says it all. Whether The Citizen author intended his piece on CANSEC to serve as free publicity for the military trade show is unknown. The fact is, that's exactly how it (and he) was used.
Some tips on writing a letter:
(1) Use your own words. Don't copy the sample letter.
(2) Keep it short and to the point: 100-150 words
(3) Include your full name, address and daytime phone number.
(4) Put the title of the article you are commenting on and its date just above your letter to the editor. So, in this case put the following line above "Dear editor"
Re: "Changes to DND hospitality rules at military trade show raising eyebrows," May 11, 2010.
(5) CC your letter
to the author of The Citizen article, David Pugliese:
(6) BCC your letter to Richard Sanders, at COAT:
Weblinks to information about CANSEC and COAT's opposition to it