I was delighted to read that this year's National Capital Air Show was cancelled. (Ottawa Citizen "Air show cancellation stuns officials," March 14, 2001).
I'm not alone. Numerous religious organizations, student groups, unions, environmental, human rights and Third World development groups have been protesting this event since 1997. The Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, a national network based in Ottawa, has been encouraging groups across Canada to oppose these militaristic events euphemistically called "air shows."
Most of the aircraft flaunted at Ottawa's "air show" are warplanes. There is a preponderance of U.S. fighters and bombers. These deadly weapons delivery systems -- including numerous nuclear bombers -- are displayed as if they were legitimate sources of family entertainment. They are not! These are tools of mass destruction, murder and environmental devastation.
Such spectacles glorify and romanticize war technology. Warplanes designed to drop conventional and nuclear bombs are promoted as wholesome family entertainment. The event's promoters shamelessly target children. Meanwhile, children in dozens of countries are also targets of these weapons systems. Those who survive bombardments by the very kinds of
warplanes "performing" in Ottawa are more likely to run for cover than revel in the wonder of aerial acrobatics.
Ottawa's "air show" organizers also hold military trade shows. These aerospace arms bazaars assist Canada's military corporations to promote their wares to military diplomats from Ottawa's embassies. In 1998, Ottawa's air show/bazaar was timed to coincide with a major conference (CONJAFAMER) hosting all the air force generals from South, Central and
Opposition has included protests and a public boycott. Last year, COAT organized a Festival of Peace to celebrate peace on the war show's doorstep. Previous year's activities included exhibiting paintings of warplanes by children whose countries were ravaged by air wars.
If the war show occurs again next year, activists will be even more prepared to peacefully meet its return in the spirit of non-cooperation and non-violent resistance to war and violence against children.
Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade