Update from COAT on Ottawa Arms Shows

This email contains updates on the following:
(1) Question: When is an "arms show" NOT an "arms show"?
(2) Media: And they're off! Initial forays in radio & an article in the Ottawa Sun
(3) Please contact Ottawa Council, Mayor and City Staff
(4) Help! Here are few other things you can do

(1) Question: When is an "arms show" NOT an "arms show"?
(a) When it includes the "US Embassy Defence and Security Exhibition"?
(b) When it flogs the world's most advanced, major weapons systems but also a wide range of other military and police hardware?
(c) When organizers assure you that there won't be any actual "weapons or firearms" on display?
(d) When it goes against an almost 20-year old City Council Motion banning such shows on municipal property?

Ottawa City staff have now tried to explain, in writing, why they leased Lansdowne Park to two military trade shows, in direct contravention of a near-unanimous, City Council Motion passed in 1989 banning the presence of such events at all City-owned facilities.

The first line of defence used by Doug Moore, the A/Director in the City's Real Property Asset Management Branch, who oversees Lansdowne Park, is to argue that "Secure Canada 2008" and one of its components (the "US Embassy Defence and Security Exhibition") is not really an "arms exhibition."

Mr. Moore posits three bogus and inaccurate arguments to argue his case that this arms exhibition is NOT an actual arms exhibition. His main points on this matter are summed up in the following quotations from his letter to Councillor Diane Holmes' office. (Follow the Red Herring links to read the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) response to each.)

Red Herring # 1: The "weapons and firearms not included" argument
"We are advised by the show manager that weapons and firearms are not included in these exhibits."

Red Herring # 2: The wide "range of products and services" argument
"It is the opinion of staff that given the range of products and services being marketed during this event, it does not meet the test of what one would reasonably expect to find in an 'arms exhibition.'?

Red Herring # 3: The "Who's on First? Not 'defence'!" argument
"Secure Canada 2008 focuses on technologies and products used for security, public safety and to a lesser degree, defence applications...."

(Click on the links above to read the initial response from COAT to each of these arguments.)

(2) Media: And they're off! Initial forays in radio & an article in the Ottawa Sun

(a) Ottawa Sun article
(b) Other media interviews

(a) Jon Willing, "Exhibit adds to OT woes: Police budget already stretched thin," The Ottawa Sun, July 27, 2008.

The above article basically focuses on the fact that if arms exhibitions scheduled at Lansdowne Park are not cancelled, then the City of Ottawa (and therefore local taxpayers) will have to pay for the security. The article concludes that
"Anti-war supporters are already setting their sights on the exhibition at Lansdowne Park. The Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade is sending out rallying cries to protest the event if the organization can't convince the city or organizers to cancel.
"Potential protesters are taking issue with the exhibition because of city council's decision in 1989 to ban arms exhibitions from being held on city-owned property.
"The Secure Canada exhibition bills itself as an 'ideal opportunity for defense and security professionals to see and learn about the latest products and technologies and to network with key contacts from both government and industry.'"

Write a letter to the editor of the Ottawa. (Be sure to start with reference to their article, Re: "Exhibit adds to OT woes," July 27).
Here's the editor's email address:

Yesterday I fired off the following response, but it has not been published.
Dear editor,

The scheduling of arms shows like "Secure Canada 2008" and the "U.S. Embassy Defense and Security Exhibition" on municipal property not only contravenes Ottawa Council's near-unanimous 1989 decision to ban such military trade events from City facilities, it also hits local taxpayers with a double whammy.

First, Ottawans are expected to subsidize these US government-sponsored military trade shows so they can hold them at a public facility (even though they're not even open to the public).  Second, citizens must pay for the show's security because extra, off-duty police will be brought in to help protect hundreds of poor defenseless arms merchants from the horrible threat that is posed when the general public exercises its rights to free speech and public assembly.

Actually, it's a triple whammy since we'll all have to pay for whatever toys the big boys decide they're going to buy (with our money) to fight their wars abroad and to suppress their dissenters at home.

Richard Sanders,
Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade

(b) Other media interviews
I have also done three other media interviews on the subject of Ottawa trade shows:
CKUT FM radio Montr?l (Friday, July 25) 15 minutes live (with Tariq Jeeroburkhan)
CKCU FM radio Ottawa (Monday, July 28) 20 minutes live (with Jeff Monaghan)
Metro Ottawa newspaper (Tuesday, July 29) (with Tim Wieclawski)

(3) Please Contact  Ottawa Council, Mayor and City Staff

Click here to contact these folks at the City of Ottawa.

(4) Help!  Here are a few other things you can do

Online Petition!
Tell the City to cancel the arms exhibitions that it has scheduled for Lansdowne Park.
Please sign online PETITION now to "Stop Ottawa's Arms Shows."
(Print version: Here is a printable version of the petition that you can use to get additional signatures.)

Email: Tell the Mayor, City Councillors and Staff what you think!

If we can't stop these arms bazaars from coming to Ottawa, we will rally to protest them. Join us!

Spread the word!
Please post this message to websites, list serves, and make announcements at events and in print publications. The URL for this email is:

Support COAT
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Keep informed
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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)