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Breaking Down CANSEC

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Breaking Down CANSEC
The International League of People's Struggle (ILPS) held a "Breaking Down CANSEC: Canadian Imperialism in the World" report-back and potluck dinner in Christie Pits park on June 17. (Photo credit: Sabah Rahman)

Press Release: Canada Philippines Solidarity Organization (CPSO)

On Saturday June 17th, the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) hosted a report-back and potluck dinner in Christie Pits park entitled “Breaking Down CANSEC — Canadian Imperialism in the World.” Attendees learned about the role of the CANSEC (Canadian Association of Defense and Security) conference and Canada in crackdowns on indigenous people and human rights defenders, listened to cultural performances, received an overview of Canada’s own history of militarism by Professor Tyler Shipley, and shared experiences from their own homelands regarding the role of militarism in immiserating their own communities.

“CANSEC is a yearly event,” stated Aidan Patterson, chairperson of the Canada-Philippines Solidarity Organization, “and we need to ensure that next year we are ready to show opposition to the North American arms trade.”. The CANSEC trade show takes place in Ottawa every year, with nearly 300 weapons manufacturers, private security firms, and technology companies gathering to show off their newest toys of repression, surveillance and destruction. These “merchants of death” are accompanied by Canadian politicians and the intelligence and military officials of “friendly” countries.

These friendly countries include the Philippines. Defense Assistant Secretary Teodoro Cirilo Torralba III was invited by the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a governmental contracting agency. The Philippines has recently purchased F-16 fighter jets and S-70i Black Hawk helicopters from CANSEC sponsor Lockheed Martin. Jets and helicopters are routinely used by the Philippine government for aerial bombings and strafings of civilian communities in rural areas. The government has repeatedly faced international condemnation by human rights groups for extrajudicial killings, criminalization of activists, and repression of free speech.

On May 31st, 2023, members of BAYAN Canada and allied organizations attended CANSEC (as a part of the International League of People’s Struggle) to oppose this trade in human misery. During the day, activists managed to block several entrances to the compound, confront attendees, and draw attention to the collusion of weapons and security companies in state repression in Latin America, Haiti, the Philippines, Palestine, and other countries around the world.

The topic of military intervention was fresh on the minds of the Filipino attendees at this report back. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. recently announced four additional Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites that aim to strengthen the collaboration of the U.S. and Philippine Armed Forces, and Canada’s pledge to expand its military capacity program in the Philippines as part of its Indo-Pacific Strategy was discussed amongst participants. “This is a conflict between the people of the world, and imperialism,” declared Migrante Ontario’s Javier Jardeleza to the Saturday crowd.

Following the report-back, members of BAYAN-Toronto have resolved to hold a People’s State of the Nation Address at the US Consulate General on July 23rd with the theme “Food and Wages, not Sightseeing and Military Bases”. This action will preempt and counter the State of the National Address on July 24th by president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. BAYAN and ILPS aim to shed light on the many human rights violations committed by the Philippine government in collaboration with the United States, and propose a better vision for the future of the Philippines. ###