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Defence Industry has its Sights on the Olympics

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February 20, 2010

Defence Industry has its Sights on the Olympics

A look at some of the companies cashing in on 2010 security spending

by Dawn Paley

2010 Olympic Airspace Map. Photo: NavCan

VANCOUVER—The security budget for the 2010 Olympics is upwards of $900 million, an amount that has generated criticism and backlash from Games opponents and cash-strapped Canadians alike. But, while activists lament what could have been done with such a massive sum, local and international security and defence companies aren't complaining.

So, which companies are cashing in on the 2010 Olympic security bonanza? There's no master list, and many contracts have been granted with little fanfare, but the details of some recipients of the Olympic security spoils are known.

Part of the security services have been donated by Olympic sponsors and suppliers. Panasonic was responsible for providing cameras for video surveillance at Olympic venues, and Garrett provided 1,650 metal detectors for the Games. Other security tasks were contracted out by various government departments.

The largest single security contract awarded to one company went to Contemporary Security Canada (CSC). They were awarded a $97.419-million contract by Public Works and Government Services Canada, along with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to provide 5,000 private security guards at the Games.

CSC is a consortium of private security companies, including US-based Contemporary Group, Alberta-based United Protection Security Group Inc., and Aeroguard Security Ltd. Contemporary Group has netted security contracts for every Olympics since 2000.

A public company based in Edmonton, United Protection, has hired personnel under the Temporary Foreign Worker program and operates a special initiative to hire First Nations people to provide protection for energy projects in areas with a high percentage of Indigenous population. In 2007, the company signed a letter of intent with the Lil'wat Nation for policing the 2010 Games.

United Protection personnel also guard the Devon Energy Corporation's Jackfish tar sands extraction operations and pipelines in Central and Northern Alberta, as well as the Keephills-3 coal-fired power plant, located 70km from Edmonton, which is jointly owned by EPCOR and TransAlta.

Cruise ship company Carnival Corporation may be one of the less-expected beneficiaries of the Olympic security budget. They are set to receive $76 million for providing floating accommodation for police during the Games.

Other security contractors have locked down smaller yet still significant rewards for their goods and services. Among these is Honeywell Canada, granted $30.5 million by the federal government to supply and maintain "intrusion detection equipment" for use at Olympic venues.

Weapons manufacturers Thales Canada and Lockheed Martin were awarded a contract for an undisclosed amount in order to develop two "passive coherent location radar" surveillance systems for the Games.

Iavor Georgeff, responsible for Software Integration and Quality Assurance at VANOC, was a software engineer for Thales Australia for over two years. Thales Canada is heavily involved in Canada's Afghan war operations, and Lockheed Martin is the biggest recipient of defence contracts in the US.

Richmond's MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. received a $4.8-million contract to set up and manage “perimeter intrusion detection solutions” for the 2010 Olympics. The company is a partner with Israel Aerospace Industries in a $100-million federal contract to build an unknown number of Heron surveillance drones, used over Afghanistan.

Though they might not be getting a direct piece of the security budget pie, Rheinmetall Canada are demonstrating their overhauled Air Defence Anti Tank System (missile launchers with command post) in Vancouver during the Games. Once the five rings leave town, the system will be heading to Afghanistan.

After the Games wrap up in Vancouver, it will be on to new places, and perhaps more importantly, on to new sources of funding for another epic security mobilization: The 2012 Olympics in London have been called the country's largest security operation since the Second World War, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has already taken a consulting contract to ready Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics.

Dawn Paley is a journalist in Vancouver.

This article was produced by the Vancouver Media Co-op. For up-to-the-minute Olympics resistance coverage, check out the Vancouver Media Co-op site, and the 2010 Convergence website. Follow the VMC on twitter!

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