WILPF protests CANSEC Arms Fair in Ottawa

WILPF members protested the CANSEC, the largest arms fair in North America, that takes place in Ottawa every spring. Canada needs to invest in a green care economy not the military-industrial complex. Read the report and see photos below.

WILPF Canada members participated in the “Cancel CANSEC” protests in Ottawa from June 1-2. CANSEC is the largest arms fair in North America and takes place every spring in Canada’s capital. CANSEC is organized by Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), which lobbies the federal government for more military spending. CANSEC was attended by the biggest manufacturers in the world, such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon and BAE among many others to peddle their weapon systems. We welcomed them with signs “Arms Fairs: Not in Our Name, Not with Our Money” and “Warmongers not welcome!” held by activists dressed in grim reaper costumes.
On the first day of CANSEC, we blocked the roads and slowed down the cars coming into conference to hear Defence Minister Anita Anand give her opening address. In her speech, Anand stated, “Through our government’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, Canada’s defence spending is once again on an upward trajectory. We are raising defence spending by over 70% between 2017 and 2026.” While Anand was speaking, we held our banners “Cut Military Spending: Let’s Fund a Green Care Economy” and “Demilitarize Decarbonize Decolonize” and joined over two hundred activists from across Canada and North America outside the conference gates. During the Lockheed Martin reception in the afternoon, activists stood with their “No New Fighter Jets” banners and called for the cancellation of the F-35 contract.

On the second day, No CANSEC organizer Mary and WILPF member Tamara went back to protest the arms conference in the morning while the Minister of Procurement Filomena Tassi spoke about Canada’s plan to buy new fighter jets and warships. Canada is spending $19 billion for 88 new fossil-fuel powered fighter jets and $77 billion for 15 warships, which does not include the life-cycle costs. These weapons systems will harm people and the planet and will lock in carbon-intensive militarism for the next five decades.
The protests were organized by the “No CANSEC” organizing committee comprised of members of the Ottawa Peace Council, No War Paix, Anti-Imperialist Alliance, Peace Brigades International, World Beyond War Canada and the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. The protests were endorsed by peace groups including WILPF Canada. Members of the International League for People’s Struggle came from across North America to rally with us. We received good media coverage of our protests and many people took great photos, check it out here.

Next year, we want Ottawa to host an exhibition on greening the economy not militarizing it. Help us shut down CANSEC.