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Mothers' Day at the War Show

Click above (or the image at left) to watch this 30-minute documentary online for free.

Narrated by
Marion Dewar,
former Mayor of Ottawa (1978-1985),
an NDP MP (1986-1988),
and a mentor of COAT.

This film was written and produced
for COAT
by Richard Sanders

“Air shows” are at the forefront of a cultural epidemic in which militarism, violence and war technology are glorified and romanticised as family fun and entertainment.

COAT's 30-minute documentary juxtaposes numerous jarringly contradictory images and interviews from the Ottawa war show and from Iraq.

The film for instance includes:

* War planes zooming by overhead and performing thunderous aeronautical stunts to the excitement and entertainment of families with their children

* Pentagon footage of these same varieties of war planes that were used in the US-led War against Iraq in 1991 that killed hundreds of thousands.

* Interviews with young kids and teens who were thrilled to describe their favourite war planes

* Iraqi children’s art depicting war planes dropping bombs

* Degrading images of women painted by US and UK aircrews onto the fuselages of the warplanes that were used to bomb Iraq

* Interviews with Iraqi civilians whose lives were devastated by the war

* Footage of children enjoying fair-ground rides inside the war show. These young kids enjoyed air-show rides that resembled miniature bomber planes equipped with toy machine guns that they could aim as the ride swirled around in circles

* Images of devastation and suffering caused by war planes in Iraq

* Peace activists inside the war show, including the documentary-maker interviewing his mother about why she was protesting this event

* Smiling spectators touching war planes and their attached missiles

* Happy children given a chance to dawn a pilot's helmet and to sit in the cockpit of a warplane

* Statements by former US Att. Gen. Ramsey Clark in Iraq in 1991 describing the deadly health impacts of the bombing and the sanctions program. (The UN later said that these sanctions -- enforced by the US, Canada and other NATO countries -- caused the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five

* Proud pilots on the runway posing with their war planes for photos by adoring fans

For many years, COAT organised various protests, vigils and educational campaigns to raise awareness about war shows, and in particular one of Canada's largest military propaganda events, commonly known as the National Capital Air Show.

For years after 1997, until the show was finally cancelled, COAT held events to expose and oppose the military elements of the air show. (See details below.)

COAT also produced and shared information about Canadian air/war shows to peace activists across the country and encouraged them to draw attention to these events locally. Several peace groups did organize leafleting and protests outside their shows.

In 1997, the "National Capital Air Show" was held on Mothers Day. That year, COAT organised an exhibit inside the grounds of the war show in which Iraqi children's original artwork was displayed. These drawings and paintings, collected by Canadian peace activists in Iraq, graphically depicted US and allied warplanes bombing Iraq during the 1991 war.

Ironically, Mothers' Day was conceived in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe, an American peace activist who was promoting this annual commemoration to inspire women to rise up against men's wars. 
Read her Mothers' Day Proclamation here.

COAT's Efforts against the Ottawa War Show (1997-2002)

For several years beginning in 1997, COAT organized protests and educational campaigns to oppose militarized air shows in Canada. Being Ottawa-based, we began by focusing on the National Capital Air Show (NCAS). We also produced information for peace groups across Canada and encouraged supportive activists and organizations to protest local air shows in their own cities. Several groups did organize leafleting and protests.


Mothers' Day at the War Show
  (Watch the documentary here)


When U.S. and Latin-American Air Force Generals Came to Town for

CONJEFAMER (the Conference of Chiefs of the American Air Forces)
hosted by the Canada's Liberal government


the "Aerospace / High-tech / Industrial Show 1997"

hosted by the National Capital Air [ie, War] Show

In 1997 and 1998, the National Capital Air Show (NCAS) organized a trade show component as part of its "air show." It was called "Aerospace/High-technology/Industrial Trade Show" (AHTI). The NCAS and AHTI were both held at the former Uplands Air Force Base -- next to the Ottawa International Airport. CFB Uplands -- which had closed in 1994 -- had been the location in 1985 of ARMX, a military trade show.  (Learn about COAT's opposition to ARMX and other arms trade shows here.)

In 1998, the NCAS held its second and last annual military trade show (AHTI).
COAT organized a protest inside the Air Show and outside its military trade show component (AHTI). That year, NCAS organizers timed their war show and its trade show component to coincide with CONJEFAMER, which is the Spanish acronym for Conference of Chiefs of the American Air Forces. This huge military conference brought together the Air Force Generals from 22 countries in South, Central and North America. It was hosted by Canada's federal government at its Conference Centre in what had -- until the early 1960s -- been Ottawa's train station. COAT organized an education campaign and a protest outside CONJEFAMER, which was across from the Chateau Laurier Hotel and the Westin Hotel in the downtown heart of Ottawa.  That protest which stretched into the evening featured the projection of children's artwork against the outside of the Conference Centre.

"Latin American Generals in Ottawa!" by Richard Sanders

COAT at War Show (on CPAC)

Activists to Make Air Show a Peace Issue by Richard Sanders

Peace and Environment News, May-June 1998

Talking Peace, Selling War
by Richard Sanders

Peace and Environment News, March 1998


COAT was central to organising the Ottawa network of organizations that protested the Liberal government's participation in the NATO war against Yugoslavia. The date of one of our protest was timed to coincide with the National Capital Air Show. This War Show featured many war planes (billed as "performers") that were then bombing Yugoslavia. COAT organised a protest outside the war show where we displayed signs and banners and leafleted those entering and leaving the event.


Festival of Peace, a fantastic success!
by Richard Sanders

Ottawa War Show being promoted in Ottawa-Carleton Schools! by Richard Sanders

Who was there? Speakers, poets, musicians by Richard Sanders

Article: "Challenging the National Capital War Show" by Richard Sanders

Letter to Councillors of the Region of Ottawa-Carleton by Richard Sanders

This year's War Show "performers"

The War Show Partners

Background information on war planes


#48  (July  2002):
Canada's Military Air Shows:
Reaching New Heights in the Glorification of War

(Click the link above or the cover image at left to read the contents of this issue.)

In 2002, COAT produced this issue of its magazine, Press for Conversion!

Using many sources, including files acquired through Access to Information, this issue revealed that 82% of the almost 400 aircraft that “entertained” at 26 Canadian air shows in 2001 were military warplanes. And, 60% of these military planes were from the US Air Force.

This issue also listed dozens of US-led wars, invasions, interventions, regime changes and other military operations in which these types of warplanes were used.

The magazine also details the kinds of bombs, missiles and other munitions that these types of warplanes are designed to "deliver" to their targets.

It also exposed the primary functions of "air shows," namely, propaganda, indoctrination and recruitment.

NOTE: The documentary and some of these archived articles linked below contain a old, outdated COAT address.  Our current address is:

COAT  c/o 191 James St.,
Ottawa ON K1R 5M6  Canada


Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade                                          Press for Conversion!