"Military Industrial Trade Show Plans Return to Community"
by Ryan Katz-Rosene
The Leveller, March 15
CANSEC, the country’s largest military trade show, will return to
Lansdowne Park on June 2 and 3.
CANSEC is the annual trade show for the Canadian Association of
Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), which claims a membership of
over 800 companies. Collectively, the enterprises sell virtually every
type of military-related equipment, ranging from camouflage uniforms
to missile-guiding technology.
This year’s arms show is the second in as many years following the
City of Ottawa's overturning of its own 1989 ban on international arms
Unlike the council, local peace activists do not intend to welcome
CANSEC to the community with open arms. Local peace activists see this
manifestation of the militaryindustrial complex as an affront to
global peace and an example of the corporate-led undermining of
Richard Sanders, coordinator of the Ottawa-based Coalition to Oppose
the Arms Trade (COAT), points out that last year’s Council vote to put
an end to the 20-year city-wide ban was riddled with irregularities
and injustices. He notes the vote was repeatedly postponed, which
delayed the vote. This made it nearly impossible for opposition groups
to voice their concerns.
In addition, Mayor Larry O’Brien had a conflict of interest, as he was
a founder of Calian Technologies, which not only sells equipment used
in a host of military surveillance devices and warplanes, but is also
one of the exhibitors at CANSEC.
Sanders also observes that CANSEC features companies that sell
instruments of war being used in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine. Of
particular interest to Carleton University’s anti-Israeli apartheid
movement is one tradeshow exhibitor, CMC Electronics, which sells
equipment found in US warplanes—including Apache helicopter gunships
and F-15 and F-16 fighter/bombers—used by the Israeli military.
In defence of its defence event, CADSI notes that CANSEC is supported
and attended by numerous government agencies and elected officials.
Furthermore, it contends that “thousands of dollars will be injected
into the local community” as a result of the convention.
CADSI also claims that its membership annually contributes $10 billion
to Canada’s domestic economy, and that the sector provides over 70,000
knowledge-based jobs in Canada. Opponents suggest that the human costs
of war are inextricably greater than any financial benefits accrued by
Canada’s corporate sector.
Not all city councillors were in favour of last year’s decision to
cancel the ban on military trade shows. Representing the Capital Ward,
Councillor Clive Doucet expressed his opposition to CANSEC 2009 by
noting that wars often result in the destruction of municipal areas
and therefore cities should not play hosts to such arms sales. “New
York wouldn’t allow that, London wouldn’t allow that. [CANSEC] is a
blot and a blight on our history.”