PBI-Canada to speak at World Beyond War #NoWar2021 virtual conference, June 4

Published by Brent Patterson on

To read the conference program and register for the virtual conference, click here.

Speaking notes

Thank you to Richard for sharing your insights and the important history of resistance in Ottawa to the ARMX arms show. It serves as an inspiration to all of us.

I also quickly want to note that Murray Thomson, one of the founders of the organization I am with – Peace Brigades International – was a regular participant in these protests.

In fact, I recently read in the minutes of a PBI-Canada Board meeting from 1993 about PBI’s planned participation in Dis-ARMX.

Most recently we participated along with many other groups and individuals in challenging the CANSEC arms show in June 2019.

People came together to physically block the two main entrance points to the EY Centre where the arms show takes place.

It’s an important and tangible thing to do.

As Rachel Small from World Beyond War Canada highlighted on a PBI-Canada webinar yesterday about the current situation in Colombia, the sales that are made at CANSEC have very real, real-world implications.

Rachel noted that in May 2014, the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a federal government owned Crown corporation, toured the exhibition floor at CANSEC arms show with an official delegation from Colombia.

Global Affairs Canada later reported that it had exported almost $45 million in “military goods” to Colombia that year.

We also know that inn May 2014 Toronto-based armoured vehicle manufacturing company INKAS reported it would supply four Huron tactical attack and defense vehicles to the National Police of Colombia.

In April 2015, INKAS also reportedly had a tendered order 26 Huron vehicles for the Colombian police. PLANT reported: “The Huron will be outfitted with a cannon to wrangle unruly rioters with foam, tear gas, dyes and water.”

We also know that INKAS demonstrated its Sentry model armoured personnel carrier at CANSEC in May 2016 and attended CANSEC in subsequent years.

While Global Affairs Canada has not been forthcoming with us about how these vehicles are being used against the current national strike protests in Colombia, there are countless videos on social media about similar vehicles being used in the context of concern about illegal, disproportionate and excessive use of violence by the Colombian police.

Temblores has reported that between April 28 and May 31, there were 3,789 cases of police violence, 1,649 arbitrary detentions and 25 victims of sexual violence committed by the police and military in the context of the ongoing national strike.

This is what we need to keep in mind the next time we are standing on a roadway in front of an arms show anywhere in the world with the police trying to push us onto the sidewalk.

How do we stop these arms shows?

We recall that CANSEC grew out of ARMX, the Government of Canada-organized military trade show that Richard has just described.

It was previously held at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa in the 1980s.

In 1989, Ottawa Mayor Marion Dewar and City Council passed a resolution that prohibited ARMX from municipal properties, including Lansdowne Park.

Earlier this week, we noted that Los Angeles City Council voted to condemn the police violence against the national strike in Colombia and called on the United States to suspend its arms sales to the Colombian government.

That is just one example of what we can all do locally.

In the meantime, it’s not too early for us to begin to organize around the next CANSEC arms show which is scheduled for June 1-2, 2022.

Earlier this week, Global Affairs Canada disclosed that it had exported $1.966 billion in military goods and technology last year.

If we add that with the figures for the five years prior to that ($3.757 billion in 2019, $2.069 billion in 2018, $1.031 billion in 2017, $717.7 million in 2016 and $676 million in 2015), Canada has exported more than $10 billion in “military goods” in just six years.

While it is not easy to stop this, we must look to each other for inspiration and ideas to do the necessary work to build a world beyond war.

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