The North Star


Genocide in Gaza

Cross-country Protests Against Scotiabank’s Stake in Deadly Industry

Read Time:2 Minute

Subscribe to our newsletter:

Protesters gathered on Friday, March 15 at over 28 Scotiabank locations across Canada to protest the bank's investments in Israel's biggest weapons manufacturing company, Elbit Systems. The Canadian bank is the largest foreign shareholder in the company. Protesters demanded that the company divest of its investments. 

The actions come in response to the continuous onslaught on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by Israel since October 7, which has now killed more than 31,000 people, at least half of them being children. The Canada Palestine Association's (CPA) call for the day of action points out that despite the opposition of hundreds of thousands across the country, Canada's political establishment "remains committed to providing diplomatic support for Israel."

CPA planned the action to urge Scotiabank to divest from Elbit who is profiting from the military assault on Gaza. Several banks and investment funds—​​​​​​​Norwegian Pension Fund, U.K.-based HSBC, the Danske Bank, and the Australian Sovereign Wealth Fund—​​​​​​​sold off all their shares after a series of international campaigns against Elbit, such as the CANSEC arms exposition protests, last spring.

As a crowd gathered outside the Chinatown branch of Scotiabank in East Vancouver, a line of police guarded the entrance of the branch for over two hours. Miguel, an organizer from United In Struggle who organized the branch action, spoke into a megaphone:

“In [October 2022], Scotiabank had the audacity to become the largest foreign investor in Elbit Systems, investing $500 million in the largest military manufacturer in the genocidal state of Israel. Scotiabank shareholders are politically invested in the expansion of Israel in its role as an imperialist outpost of western capitalism to intervene in the economy of the countries in the Middle East.”

On the day of action, protests targeted more than a dozen Scotiabank branches in the Lower Mainland and many more across the country, including in Courtenay, Nanaimo, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Peterborough and Toronto. According to organizers, six branches, including the main branch in the Scotiabank tower in Downtown Vancouver, were partially or completely shut down, and at many others, Scotiabank account holders encountering the protests committed to closing their accounts.

“Not a single dollar from the Canadian working class should be funding the murder of innocent people,” says Jessie, a speaker for Anakbayan B.C. at the entrance of a Scotiabank branch location in Vancouver's West End. “[It is] providing arms for a slew of governments to wage wars and oppress peoples.”

Referencing recent reports that Scotiabank has reduced its investment in Elbit, Jessie continued: “Scotiabank announced that it would cut stakes in the company. This is simply not enough! [...] If Scotiabank were to be genuine about stopping genocide, then they would completely divest from Elbit.”

A report by Bloomberg News states that Scotiabank trimmed down its holdings from 5.1% to 4.3%, which is a mere 15.7% change.

Support journalism going against the tide ← To help North Star continue to produce stories from the majority's perspective and in the majority's interest, make a donation! Every contribution matters.