PBI-Canada joins #PeaceDay action calling on General Dynamics to ‘Stop Selling War Machines’

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Peace Brigades International-Canada joined with local activists gathered in front of the General Dynamics office in Nepean/Ottawa (Algonquin territory) today – the International Day of Peace — with the message: Stop Selling War Machines.

This day of action was co-organized by numerous groups including Labour Against the Arms Trade, People for Peace London, Amnesty International Canada, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Oxfam Canada, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, World Beyond War, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

General Dynamics is one of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers. In 2019, its gross profit was more than $7 billion.

The General Dynamics plant in London, Ontario is in the process of manufacturing 742 Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) for the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) which in turn is selling the LAVs to Saudi Arabia through a $14 billion contract. The CCC serves as Canada’s government-to-government contracting organization.

Some of the LAVs being manufactured in Canada and sold to Saudi Arabia are reportedly standard troop carriers, while some are assault vehicles equipped with 105-millimetre cannons, and others are anti-tank vehicles armed with 30-millimetre guns.

The Government of Canada has reported: “Saudi Arabia was the largest non-U.S. export destination [in 2019], receiving approximately $2.864 billion in Canadian military exports (accounting for approximately 76% of the total value of non-U.S. military exports).”

Earlier this month, a United Nations expert report stated that weapons provided by Western powers, including Canada, and Iran are fuelling the six-year old conflict in Yemen that has killed 112,000 people including 12,000 civilians.

Canada was specially named in the UN report because of the increase in its arms sales to Saudi Arabia (from $500 million in 2017 to $1.282 billion in 2018 to $2.864 billion in 2019).

Along with the Saudi Arabian National Guard, General Dynamics-manufactured LAVs are also used by the Canadian Army, the United States Marine Corps, the United States Army, the Colombian Army, the Royal Thai Army, and the New Zealand Army.

The LAV derived Stryker armoured vehicle, also manufactured by General Dynamics, has also reportedly been used by US Customs and Border Patrol, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, on the US/Mexico border.

Exact figures on arms sales to the United States are still murky despite Canada joining the global Arms Trade Treaty in September 2019. Canada has otherwise not reported on these arms sales due to the Defence Production Sharing Agreement (1956).

Global Affairs has previously stated that “an estimated half of all Canadian exports are to the U.S.” In other words, if Global Affairs publicly reports on $2 billion in arms sales to “non-U.S. export destinations” in any given year, then that could mean that another $2 billion in arms were exported to the United States that year.

Peace Brigades International-Canada has also joined the call initiated by the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute for a fundamental reassessment of Canadian foreign policy with one of the key questions to guide that review being: Should Canada continue to offer financial and diplomatic support to arms exporters or refocus on demilitarization?

PBI-Canada also supports the call for a just transition for workers in the arms industry. As the Canadian Labour Congress, which represent more than 3 million workers across this country, has stated: “Ending arms exports doesn’t have to mean the loss of good jobs. The time has come for public investment in a rapid transition to peaceful green jobs.”

We call on Mary Ng, the federal minister responsible for the Canadian Commercial Corporation, to address growing concerns about Canadian arms exports.

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