‘Music Against War’ at CANSEC 2018

MAW march along Highway 93, downtown Ottawa.

Originally published on the Spirit Wrestlers Blog by Koozma J. Tarasoff, June 4, 2018 — Link: goo.gl/h8tz5K

To draw attention to CANSEC, Canada’s largest weapons export trade show, held May 30-31, in Ottawa, we performed a Music Against War (MAW) peace event and walk on May 30, for 2 hours during evening rush hour.

CANSEC is organised by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, which represents 800 Canadian military, police and surveillance companies.  

CANSEC facilitates the sale of products to the Canada’s armed forces and exports to dozens of foreign governments.  About half of Canada’s annual, multibillion-dollar military production is exported, and as much as 80% of those exports go to the US. The CANSEC exhibitors are listed here.

In previous years we protested the annual two-day May CANSEC trade show outside its entrance at the EY Centre near the Ottawa International Airport. That airport location was far away, difficult to get to, and our target audience were conventioneers. See photos and summaries of the past 8 annual demonstrations: CANSEC Ottawa Reports Since 2009.

This year we decided to relocate to downtown public places, and target our message to the governments of Canada, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America; and Canadian arms manufacturers. Among the 276 Exhibitors at CANSEC 2018 was General Dynamics Canada which sold armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia used in wars in the Middle East.

During Wednesday evening rush hour traffic, on May 30, 2018, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., about 50 antiwar/peace activists gathered, carried banners and signs, made speeches, sang songs, played music and walked along our downtown streets to Ottawa landmarks and embassies. Thousands got our message, and some honked their horns.  I was one of 4 photojournalists.

The event started at 4:30 p.m. at (1) the Spider sculpture (‘Mamman’) outside the National Gallery of Canada, with 5 speakers, and 10 musicians and a choir. A mobile sound system was provided by Guatemalan composer/singer Tito Medina.

MAW began in front of the National Gallery of Canada


11 Speakers and poets

4 Musicians and a Choir

About 5 p.m. we paraded with signs north to (2) the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, returned south to (3) the Royal Canadian Mint, (4) Reconciliation: The Peacekeeping Monument, and ended at the (5) Embassy of the United States of America — a total distance of about 1.4 kilometers, less than a mile. At each stop we performed and spoke.

No mainstream media came out. Organizer Richard Sanders (COAT) observed:

Shamefully the media completely ignored us and, not surprisingly, David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen reporter who ‘covered’ CANSEC, did not bother to even mention our efforts let alone quote any of us who were actually involved. Such is the corporate ‘pro Defence’ media we are up against.

I first spoke to David in 1991 about a big COAT event, when he first started his ‘Defence Watch’ journalism career, and he has never even once quoted me in any article during the 27 years since then.

Sanders added:

(1)  The CPP [Canadian Pension Plan] is now investing $1.3 Billion in 36 of the World’s Top-100 War Industries.  This includes $559 million in about 30 of these top, global weapons industries that will have Canadian subsidiaries exhibiting at CANSEC. Learn more here

(2)  The CPP is also investing $451 Million in 14 corporations that are complicit in nuclear-weapons production, maintenance &/or management.  This includes 6 of those top war industries that will have 8 Canadian subsidiaries exhibiting at CANSEC.  Learn more here

Our Message

Canada is spending $20 billion on the military this year, and was the 2nd largest weapons exporter to the Middle East.

A good summary of the spirit of our MAW event was written by Ken Bilsky Billings ‘Kensky’ in a letter (May 31, 2018) to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister Freeland:

Dear PM Trudeau and Minister Freeland and especially your staff,

So strange how military and national security budgets are always going up but help for jobs, housing, energy and health are being starved.

We are sick and tired of this two faced type of politics. CANSEC is back in town, Canada’s largest weapons killing machines trade bazaar. Don’t you feel proud?

I think only a criminal mind would feel proud to make profits on a killing industry based on bullying. A philosophy of 99% weapons and 1% peace budgets is a recipe for disaster. You have so many people that depend on a weapons industry, no one wants to speak up.

Government departments at CANSEC include:

Selling weapons and security should not be Canada’s focus. We can do much better with our money, investing in people, full time employment, healthy food, affordable housing, sustainable energy, a health care system that is not on life support and a Public Banking system that lends short term money to provinces at no interest. Remember the Bank of Canada ACT from 1938 to 1974. Your father handed it over to the Private Banking system.

Of course if you are in the pocket of the Banking Cabal and Military Industrial Complex, I can understand your need to feed the criminal factions.

Canadians of all ages deserve better. We are one of the richest countries in the world and we still need thousands of food banks. What is wrong with this picture?

Photos and video


Report on Exports of Military Goods from Canada – 2016, Global Affairs Canada.

 Koozma Tarisoff  is one of the co-founders and co-producers of the Ottawa Peace Festival. The 2017 event was the 11th annual festival, and took place over 18 days at 15 locations around the capital.  Twenty-seven of the 29 were free or by donation. Here at PeaceQuest, we are huge fans of Koozma’s work and you will see our favourite articles mirrored on our page.

Koozma explores issues of peace and Doukhobor history and culture in ten books and his long running Spirit Wrestlers Blog.