Heads Up!
Lansdowne Park to Host International Arms Exhibition

By Richard Sanders, coordinator, COAT; editor, Press for Conversion!


The "U.S. Embassy Defense & Security Exhibition" is one segment of a large military trade show called "Secure Canada 2008" now scheduled for Lansdowne Park (Sept.30 - Oct.1). This whole event flies in the face of a near-unanimous Ottawa Council motion from 1989 stating "that Lansdowne Park and other city facilities not be leased to ARMX or other such arms exhibitions."

ARMX was Canada's largest military trade show. It sparked a public furor in 1989 when Ottawa's Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) was formed to expose this manifestation of the military-industrial complex. COAT organized a large campaign culminating in a protest of some 4,000 citizens at Lansdowne's gates.


COAT is now rallying public support asking the City to honour its promise to bar arms expos from municipal property.  If it goes ahead, "Secure Canada" will be the first such show hosted on City property in almost 20 years. Check out the COAT website for more details <http://coat.ncf.ca>, sign the online petition and do whatever you can to spread the word.


Although we don't want arms bazaars anywhere, they're certainly not welcome at public facilities subsidized by municipal taxes. Neither should the City's budget buy "security" for these arms dealers who feel they need protection from peaceful public protesters.


Secure Canada 2008

This military trade show is actually three arms expositions in one:


(1) "Secure Canada and the World"

This segment includes the "U.S. Embassy Defense & Security pavilion" and the "UK Trade and Investment Pavilion." Whether the dozens of American and British manufacturers of military and police hardware who plan to descend on Lansdowne will make for a "secure Canada," or a secure world, is debatable. What is certain is that they want to secure a share of the burgeoning military budgets of Canada and the world.


(2) "TechNet North"

Under the theme "National Security in a Coalition Environment," this portion of "Secure Canada" is said to be "Canada's Premier C4ISR Exhibition."  C4ISR refers to "Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance." The five dozen war-related industries planning to exhibit at TechNet North want to flog high-tech products that are central to modern warfare. This event is organized by the Ottawa chapter of a US-based, international military-industry grouping called the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

This event's main corporate backer is General Atomics, which makes the Predator—a drone that does reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting, and fires missiles. It has logged 200,000 miles during combat duties in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.


(3) "The Unmanned Systems Canada Expo"

This element of "Secure Canada" is promoted as "Canada’s premier event focusing on the national and international ground, air and maritime unmanned systems marketplace." This military sector is however dominated by makers of drone aircraft. These small Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles do "surveillance and reconnaissance" of the enemy to locate targets for destruction. This exhibition is organized by another US-dominated, international association of military industries, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.


Who is behind "Secure Canada 2008"?

The key organizer hired to pull together "Secure Canada" is a former employee of Ottawa's US Embassy, who specialises in promoting military companies.  

Six of the nine sponsors recruited for "Secure Canada" are among America's largest promoters and beneficiaries of the military-industrial complex:

•           the US Commercial Service (a government agency promoting exports)

•           the National Defense Industrial Association (representing the economic and political interests of America's war-related industries)

•           two major US weapons corporations (General Atomics and General Dynamics) and Sun Microsystems, a major global electronics firm doing substantial business with the US military.

•           the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada (promoting Canada-US trade).


The show's other sponsors are a UK government entity promoting exports, and two Canadian magazines catering to military and "security" industries.

The Exhibitors

The Exhibitors list of "Secure Canada" is a who's who of the international arms trade. These companies, associations and government agencies provide almost everything required to wage war and are linked to the production of many major weapons systems, including weapons of mass destruction.

The largest known exhibitor is Boeing—the prime contractor for a slew of weapons systems including dozens of fighter and bomber warplanes. One of these, the B-2 Stealth nuclear bomber, is worth mentioning. Each of the first 20 B-2s off the assembly line cost about $2.2 Billion—the equivalent of the City of Ottawa's entire budget for 2007. Surely there is a better way to spend scarce global resources than to fund the world's destruction?

Ottawa City staff have tried to explain why they leased Lansdowne Park to "Secure Canada." Their first line of defence is that it is not really an "arms exhibition." Tell your councillor what you think!


This article was submitted to the Peace and Environment News for publication in September 2008.


Related articles:
What do they actually mean by "Defence," "Security" and "Public Safety"?

"What is a Weapon, anyhow?"

This webpage was produced by the
Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT)


as part of the COAT campaign to oppose 
"Secure Canada 2008" (Sept.30-Oct.1, 2008)