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PGA-Bloc Ottawa

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April 27, 2008 Weblog:


black bloc photo.JPG

"Do you know why they're protesting?!" yells a business man in a perfectly ironed suit. His screaming is just barely audible over the chanting and yelling of the demonstrators and police.

"They are protesting CANSEC!" I explain.

"What's CANSEC?" he asks, as I prepare for my now memorized rebuttal: "CANSEC is Canada's largest arms fair. This is the tenth year of it taking place but because it was banned from all City of Ottawa property in 1991, it now takes place at the Ottawa Congress Centre, which is technically provincial property."

"Arms fair?" comes the now predictable surprise, "There's an arms fair taking place here? In Ottawa? In Canada?"

"Yes, Canadian corporations produce much of the ammunition, weaponry, and support technology for the U.S. military and the Canadian Forces…"

Before I can continue to explain the major procurement contracts outlined by Canadian Military Magazine – related to the war on Afghanistan, security for the 2010 Olympics, and Northwest Passage defence – an angry police officer shoves me.

Half a dozen riot cops appear out of nowhere. They line the streets of Ottawa's business section. Protecting them is a line of well-equipped city police, and surrounding them on all sides are astonished looking business people. The Black Bloc is in on one side, the police on the other.

What has now become three days of actions and protests was sure to have made it clear to the nearly 7000 delegates attending this year's CANSEC that they are not welcome. Before the official trade show even began, fire alarms were pulled forcing the attendees of the black-tie kickoff to rush outdoors while police searched the building.

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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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