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Major demonstrations in Ottawa for an end to arms exports to Israel

Photo: Patrick Doyle The Canadian Press Pro-Palestinian activists covered in red paint demonstrate on the sidelines of the annual defense industry trade show (CANSEC) in Ottawa on Wednesday

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Ottawa on Wednesday to demand an immediate and complete halt to all transfers of weapons, military components and technology to and from Israel.

The demonstrations are part of the holding of the annual defense industry trade show (CANSEC), the largest industry gathering in Canada.

On Wednesday morning, the surrounding streets and access to the convention center were blocked by demonstrators who brandished Palestinian flags and banners reading: “CANSEC welcomes accomplices of the genocide” and “Stop taking advantage of a genocide.” Protesters then moved to block streets near Parliament Hill.

“Dozens of people burned alive in Israeli attacks on people's camp displaced to Rafah this week, a place Israel had designated as a “safe” area. And those who profit from this atrocity, who provided the weapons to massacre tens of thousands of Palestinians, are right here in CANSEC,” said Rachel Small of World BEYOND War, which is organizing the protest.< /p>

Federal Defense Minister Bill Blair, for his part, replied that the government has no longer exported weapons to Israel since the beginning of the year.

“Canada has a stringent armed export regime. Since January, no single arms export permit has been issued by Canada for Israeli weapons and Global Affairs has made clear that no additional exports will be authorized while the conflict persists,” he said. told reporters Wednesday morning.

Major demonstrations in Ottawa for an end to arms exports to Israel

Photo: Patrick Doyle The Canadian Press Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Last March, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly told the Commons that Canada had not approved any military licenses to export goods to Israel since January 8.

Protest organizer Rachel Small believes the minister is “significantly misrepresenting” Canada's measures “to avoid complicity in Israel's war crimes in Gaza.”

“Global Affairs Canada has confirmed that it continues to authorize the export of military goods to Israel under permits authorized before January 8, 2024. This means that they continue to ship arms to Israel”, she indicates in an email to Devoir.

During the period questions, New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Jagmeet Singh urged the prime minister to “impose an arms embargo and sanction the [Israeli] government's war cabinet.”

Several NDP MPs joined protests on Parliament Hill on Wednesday.

Major demonstrations in Ottawa for an end to arms exports to Israel

Photo: Sandrine Vieira Le Devoir Protesters gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa posted their demands on a number of improvised barricades.

Still no date for NATO target

Despite multiple criticisms from Canada's allies in recent weeks, Minister Blair refuses to set a deadline for Canada to increase its military spending to 2% — the GDP target recommended by NATO.

During a press scrum at CANSEC, the minister reaffirmed that Canada is “committed” to achieving this target, but did not want to offer a time horizon for achieving it.

“Our job is to come back with a plan on how to achieve that goal,” he said on the first day of the event bringing together more than 280 defense industry organizations .

Major demonstrations in Ottawa for an end to arms exports to Israel

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick The Canadian Press Federal Defense Minister Bill Blair reaffirmed that Canada is “committed” to achieving this target, without giving a time frame for achieving it.

His statement comes a day after concerns were raised by Canada's Ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, who was participating in a panel in Montreal.

“The Americans are happy that we have doubled our defense spending. But this is not the 2% target that was accepted at NATO. So, yes, we often raise the question. We applaud the upward trajectory, but it is not enough,” she noted.

Earlier this year, U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Julianne Smith, lamented that Canada was the only NATO member without a plan or timetable to achieve the alliance's objective.

Last week, a group of 23 U.S. senators also sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to fulfill Canada's commitments to NATO.

Heads of state and government of the military alliance agreed to spend 2% of GDP on defense in 2014, following Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

“Over the past two years, we have seen Vladimir Putin massively expand his war machine. And we in the West have not always done enough to keep up. We need to do more,” Minister Blair conceded in his opening speech on Wednesday morning.

A report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer in 2022 warned that the target of NATO “remains out of reach in the medium term” for Canada.

New investments

As part of his participation in CANSEC, Minister Blair announced that Canada will acquire more than 70 training aircraft in total, divided into five fleets.

Ottawa will also invest up to $2.58 billion in the acquisition and maintenance of a new fleet of light and heavy logistics vehicles for the Canadian Army.

As part of this project, the FAC is acquiring a new fleet of more than 1,000 light vehicles and approximately 500 heavy vehicles, as well as related equipment, such as sets armor, modules, containers and trailers.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116