Monday, November 10, 2008

For almost 20 years the City of Ottawa has had a ban on holding arms trade meetings on municipal property. The merchants of death, however, have always found ways to get around this ban by holding their shows in other facilities. Now it seems that they want to flout the ban entirely. Here's the story from the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade(COAT). ALSO what you can do about it.
If you haven't signed the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade's online petition to "Stop Ottawa's Arms Shows!" please do so now.
Jumping the Gun:
Canada's Largest Weapons Bazaar Sets its Sights on Ottawa:
By Richard Sanders, Coordinator, COAT

Despite the City of Ottawa's longstanding ban on hosting arms exhibitions, Canada's largest military industry association and lobby group has begun booking 500 booth spaces for its controversial trade show, CANSEC 2009, which it says "will be held at Lansdowne Park" in May 2009.[1]

This may come as a big surprise not only to many concerned citizens and Ottawa Councillors, but even to the City of Ottawa staff who are responsible for leasing Lansdowne Park, which is the national capital's most important municipal facility.

In late August 2008—amidst much public debate—Ottawa staff in charge of renting City property stated in an official Memo to Councillors that although they had entered "into discussion with the show producers of CANSEC" they had "not encumbered the City with any signed agreement. At this point," Staff said, "we have held tentative dates and have been in the process of negotiation."[2]

However, since July 11, 2008, the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), has produced detailed floor plans showing the exact layout of almost 500 booth spaces for rent at its huge CANSEC weapons expo. (This represents a 25% increase in the number of booths since the CANSEC 2008 arms show was held at an Ontario government venue called the Ottawa Congress Centre.[3])

CADSI is encouraging prospective military industry exhibitors to pay the $3250 fee for a 10' x 10' booth space at CANSEC 2009. They are telling military industries to book the exact location where they can showcase their products and services in any one of Lansdowne Park's three main exhibition halls—the Aberdeen Pavilion, the Salons, and the Coliseum Building.[4]

By allowing Canadian and foreign military corporations to book their booth locations at Ottawa's biggest taxpayer-supported facility, CADSI not only sidestepped the fact that it did not yet have a signed contract with the City, it has also flagrantly ignored the 1989 City of Ottawa Motion banning all such war-related arms bazaars from municipal property.[5]

This past summer, many Ottawa councillors and the general public were shocked when the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) exposed the fact that City Staff had approved a lease allowing a US-backed arms exhibition called "Secure Canada 2008" to be held at Lansdowne Park. "Secure Canada" was organized by a former US embassy employee and was sponsored, in part, by the American embassy, the US Department of Commerce, the Canadian branch of the US Chamber of Commerce, several large US war-related industries, the primary US lobby group representing 1400 military corporations (including many of the world's largest weapons industries), and three Canadian branch operations of US-based military industry associations.[6]

Originally scheduled for late September, "Secure Canada 2008" was eventually cancelled by organizers who cited anti-war protests and federal government restrictions on participation in all controversial events during the election campaign.[7]

Although peace activists were amused when Ottawa City Staff absurdly claimed that "Secure Canada 2008" "did not meet the test 'arms exhibition,'"[8] many were taken aback that City Staff were claiming that Council's 1989 ban no longer applies to Lansdowne Park. Ottawa staff maintained that "there was no true impediment to hosting these types of events, while recognizing the degree of sensitivity regarding activities that focus primarily on armaments and various weapons."[9]

Before the demise of "Secure Canada 2008," its organizers also engaged in a deceptive ploy to pretend that the City of Ottawa was not only hosting their trade show but was also one of its official sponsors. The "Secure Canada" website illegally displayed the City of Ottawa's logo thus making it appear as if the municipal government was actually paying to sponsor this manifestation of the international arms trade.[10] The City was, in fact, NOT sponsoring "Secure Canada 2008" and arms show organizers were forced to remove the logo from their website.

When COAT learned that Ottawa's historic, arms-show ban was being disputed and that military trade events like "Secure Canada" and CANSEC were threatening to break the almost 20-year absence of such war industry bazaars on City property, it immediately began to alert peace activists in Ottawa and across Canada. COAT has its origins in opposition to Ottawa arms shows. It was initiated in December 1988 and its first campaign was to organize a mass peace march. Subsequently, COAT drew thousands to a rally outside the gates of ARMX, a now defunct arms show held at Lansdowne Park in May 1989. ARMX was the last such weapons exhibition to be held at this or any other City of Ottawa facility.

The list of war-related industries that exhibited their war-related products and services at the CANSEC arms bazaar in early 2008 was a veritable who's who of the military industrial complex.[11] However, CANSEC 2009 is promising to be even bigger!

COAT needs your help!
We stopped them before, we can do it again!

Pressure City Hall
COAT is encouraging individuals and organizations to pressure Ottawa's Mayor and Council to demand that City Staff respect the 1989 ban that has stopped Ottawa from hosting arms shows for 20 years.

Sign our Online Petition
COAT has also created an petition to oppose the return of shows like CANSEC and to ensure that they remain prohibited on City property.

Please sign our online petition to "Stop Ottawa's Arms Shows" and encourage others to do likewise. Thanks!

[1] CANSEC 2009 website, Event Location
[2] Ottawa City Staff Memo, August 27, 2008.
[3] CANSEC 2008 website.
[4] CANSEC 2009 website, Floor Plans, July 11, 2008.
[5] Ottawa Councillors Outlawed all future Arms Trade Shows from City Facilities in 1989
[6] What is the Driving Force behind "Secure Canada 2008"?
[7] David Pugliesi, "PCO election edict puts brakes on bureaucrats' business," Ottawa Citizen, September19, 2008. Pugliesi, "Defence show cancelled over protests," Ottawa Citizen, September 25, 2008.
[8] Letter from Doug Moore, City of Ottawa
[9] Ibid.
[10] Saved Google cache of "Secure Canada" website from August 22, 2008.
[11] CANSEC 2008 website, Exhibiting Companies
Free sample copy: If you live in Canada and haven't previously received a free sample copy of COAT's magazine, Press for Conversion!, then just send your name, street address and postal code to and we'll mail you a complimentary copy.

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