At the EY Centre in Ottawa on May 29 and 30, the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) is organizing CANSEC, one of the largest gatherings of arms manufacturers in North America. The trade fair, which attracts over 10,000 attendees and some of the world’s largest defense contractors, has been held annually in Ottawa for the past 20 years. Canadian Minister of Defence Harjit S. Sajjan is among other cabinet ministers of the Trudeau government scheduled to speak at the fair. At CANSEC, the Canadian government is expected to promote Canada’s new defence policy titled “Strong, Secure, and Engaged”, and to promote the Department of Defence’s estimated $15 billion-plan to procure new fighter jets for the Canadian Air Force.
The Canadian and multinational corporations at CANSEC make billions in profit while the violence and the misery of war continues overseas. Despite its image as an international peacekeeper, Canada has adopted an aggressive “peace-making” policy developed since the rule of Stephen Harper and refined to be proactive and “engaged” under that of Justin Trudeau. It is more closely tied to NATO and the US defense strategy and is more widely deployed.
Canada is continuing its controversial plan to sell $15 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia, including light-armoured vehicles manufactured in London, Ontario, which makes it the second largest arms exporter to the Middle East after the United States. The deal has not been revised even while Saudi Arabia continues a genocidal war against the people of Yemen that has left hundreds of thousands dead due to famine and lack of clean water. Canada has also historically exported arms to other repressive governments, including the Suharto regime in Indonesia that murdered millions of suspected leftists, various governments in the Philippines that have stepped up militarization in rural areas, and the fascist junta in the Ukraine.
Even in places where there is no fighting on the ground, the war industry damages the environment by being one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, and leaving hazardous, sometimes radioactive waste that harms peoples’ health and well-being, particularly indigenous peoples.
Companies present at CANSEC and the Canadian imperialist government that support them are all complicit in bringing these negative effects of war on the oppressed masses of the world. They are actively utilized in military build-ups and threats against North Korea, Venezuela and Syria in the current US strategy of hybrid wars and plans to destabilize and topple states that do not conform to imperialist demands.
Despite the unfettered militarism on display at CANSEC, there is ongoing resistance. A coalition of groups will be at CANSEC to protest the ongoing arms sales of Canada to Saudi Arabia and the environmental damage that the war industry causes. Across Canada, a growing anti-war movement opposes Canada’s increase in military spending, its new defence policy, and its role in supporting war around the world as a member of NATO. Join the anti-imperialist, anti-war movement to stand for just peace!