The North Star


Sit-in in the Offices of the Canadian Arms Lobby

Protesters Demand the Shut Down of Arms Dealer Convention

Read Time:3 Minute

Subscribe to our newsletter:

On Tuesday last week, a coalition of organizations occupied the Ottawa office of Canadian Association of Defense and Security Industries (CADSI) for a sit-in. They were joined by hundreds of protesters outside the building who called for "an end to Canadian support for genocide and the full liberation of the Palestinian people," demanding that CANSEC, Canada’s largest arms dealer convention, be shut down.

The demonstrators held the space despite police presence, before marching out to join the crowd outside and delivering a letter to CADSI exposing their demands. CADSI is a private lobbying group representing over 300 companies in the weapons industry, including those who are supplying the weapons currently being used to carry out a genocide in Palestine. These include Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Elbit Systems, and others. This government funded lobbying group are the organizers of CANSEC, Canada’s largest arms and military convention that happens every year in Ottawa in late May or beginning of June.

The protesters maintain that “the institution is a facilitator and broker of war, conflict, and widespread killings of common people globally.” It hosts exhibitions of the world’s leading arms manufacturers and is visited by tens of thousands of attendees. Among them are Canadian MPs, Senators, Ministers as well as dozens of international delegations, and representatives from Israel.

According to CANSEC, 74% of delegates have “purchasing power” and almost half are government representatives. Among the companies attending the CANSEC convention each year are some of the world's most prominent transnational arms manufacturers. They use this annual event to market their stockpiles of Canadian-made weapons, which in turn help fuel active conflicts at home and abroad.

“Our community refuses to remain silent and allow business to continue as usual while our Canadian government and violent war profiteers like CADSI fuel this genocide. We are here to demand an arms embargo on Israel and say NO to CANSEC.” said Sarah Abdul-Karim, member of the Palestinian Youth Movement.

The violence committed by the occupation forces shows no signs of stopping, but is only intensifying with the horrific assault on Rafah. This portion of the Gaza strip was one of the most densely populated with 275 000 people living within 64sq km (or 4,300/sqkm). Since the beginning of the genocide, it has become one of the last places of refuge for fleeing Palestinians. This small city, 59 times smaller and now 5.7 times more densely populated than metropolitan Montreal, has become a new focus of the continued bombing campaign of the Israeli invasion. More than 100 people per day, many living in ramshackle refugee camps, are being killed by bombings.

The organizers of the sit-in warned that there is no safe haven left for Palestinian civilians. The objective of the Israeli offensive is clear, they say—the genocide of the Palestinian people—adding that CADSI represents the Canadian elite who profit from this genocidal violence, and from death and repression around the world.

Ahana, speaking for ILPS in Canada said “Groups like CADSI do not serve the people, but a few companies. With every brutal conflict, their profits increase while millions of people around the world are killed. CADSI should not exist, and must be held accountable for their crimes against humanity.”

Mera Abduli of Labour for Palestine told North Star's correspondents that “the call to dismantle CADSI is a demand for accountability and a reminder that our collective struggle against oppression knows no borders.” She continued “as labour activists, we reject Canada’s role in facilitating the arms trade fueling the genocide against Gazans as our public sector workers are either near or well below the poverty line. The fight to end Canadian complicity is a working class fight.”

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.