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Making War in Canada

August 7, 2006

Making War in Canada

Canada produces military equipment used in attacks on Lebanon, Palestine

by Dru Oja Jay

F-16s under construction. Many federally-subsidized Canadian firms make components for the F-16, the F-15 and the Apache helicopter, all in use by the Israeli Air Force in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories.
Canadian companies and taxpayers played an important role in the production of much of the military equipment that is currently being used to bomb villages, neighbourhoods and key infrastructure in Lebanon and carry out military operations in Gaza. That is the conclusion of research compiled by the Ottawa-based Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT).

CTV.ca recently reported on the tens of billions of dollars in military aid supplied to Israel by the US government. COAT, however, says that aside from diplomatic support for Israeli bombing, Canadian taxpayers are also doing their part in military support, albeit indirectly.

According to research conducted by COAT's Richard Sanders, F-16 "fighting falcon" and F-15 "eagle" fighter/bombers, as well as Apache helicopters, partly owe their existence to Canadian contractors, government subsidies, and investments from the Canada Pension Plan.

Companies like Canadair, CMC Electronics, and Magellan Aerospace, for example, are responsible for making parts for infrared guidance systems, radar equipment, and training simulators for F-15s. Many of the same companies receive subsidies from the Canadian government under programs like Industry Canada's "Technology Partnerships Canada".

According to COAT, Canadian war industries have received about $5 billion in grants and unpaid loans over the last 30 years. Additionally, the Canada Pension Plan has invested at least $282 million in arms manufacturers like Boeing, Lockheed, and Raytheon.

Designed by Seattle-based Boeing, the F-15 has been widely used in bomb and rocket attacks in civilian areas in Gaza, the West Bank, and now Lebanon.

Israeli attacks in Lebanon have killed over 1000 people, injured an estimated 3000, and displaced nearly one million people--a quarter of Lebanon's population. Bombing of key infrastructure such as airports and bridges has caused an estimated $2 billion in damage, and oil slicks cover Lebanon's coastine. Reports typically do not identify the aircraft used, though many mention F-15s and F-16s.

South of Lebanon, however, locals have learned to differentiate between Israeli aircraft.

"From a young age every Palestinian child learns to distinguish the Apache's sound and associate it with assassinations, destruction and blood in the street," Shawan Jabarin, general director of the Palestinian human rights group al-Haq, told the Guardian.

"For Palestinians, it's a symbol of indiscriminate military violence."

Israeli officials do not deny using aircraft like the "Apache" and the "Eagle" for political assassinations (over 150 leaders have been assassinated in the last five years), though officials claim that operations are carried out for anti-terrorism purposes. Last October, Israeli Captain Yael Hartmann told The New Standard journalist Jon Elmer that a Gazan school was targeted because "it was bringing up the next generation of Hamas members."

Over a dozen Canadian companies make components used in the Apache, and the Canada Pension Plan has invested $71 million in Boeing, the primary contractor involved in its production.

Lockheed Martin's F-16 "fighting falcon" is also familiar to Gaza residents. After Israeli settlers withdrew from Gaza, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) began subjecting populated areas to sonic booms by flying F-16s at low altitudes over the Gaza strip. With its massive number of refugees, the Gaza strip is among the most densely populated areas in the world.

The flights continued day and night for months, often timed to coincide with a dawn call to prayer. "Although it is not lethal, it can lead to death indirectly, of unborn children. It can lead to highly traumatizing effects on children particularly, and adults too," a Palestinian psychiatrist told Al-Jazeera.

"Yes, these sonic booms target the Palestinian people," Israeli spokesperson Avichav Adrai was quoted as saying by Al-Jazeera. "The purpose is so they can pressure those who fire the rockets to stop them." Adrai said that Israel does not see the sonic booms as collective punishment.

The Canada Pension Plan has invested $27 million in Lockheed Martin, and over a dozen Canadian firms are involved in the construction and maintenance of the F-16 "fighting falcon".

AlliedSignal Aerospace of Mississauga, for example, received a contract for fuel control systems on the F-16 from Lockheed Martin. Between 1993 and 2002, AlliedSignal contributed $60,152 to the Liberal Party of Canada. Between 1996 and 2003, AlliedSignal received $83.3 million in subsidies from Industry Canada.

Héroux-Devtek, which makes landing gear components for the F-16, received $2.8 million in subsidies during the same period. The CEO of the Longueil, Québec based firm recently told the Canadian Press that billions in new spending announced by the Conservative govnernment is "an opportunity" that only comes along "once every 30 years."

Other companies involved in the production of the F-16 include Derlan Aerospace, which received $9.5 million in government subsidies, Haley Industries, and the Canadian Marconi Company.

In 2001, Israel placed an order for 102 new F-16s, giving it the second largest fleet of the airplanes, after the US. The deal, worth $4.5 billion, was paid for through US military aid, which totals to approximately $3 billion per year.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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