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[OPIRG-EVENTS] Canadians Demand Unfettered Access to Local Weaponsmaker

Homes not Bombs
Canada should build homes, not blow them up
PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West
Toronto, On M6C 1C0
(905) 526-7982, (905) 527-4488 (Hamilton), (416) 651-5800 (Toronto)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   December 4, 2002


As UN inspectors scour Iraq for weapons, will military manufacturer Wescam
provide unfettered access to Canadians?

On Tuesday, December 10 at 11 am, (International Human Rights Day),
residents of Hamilton, Burlington and Toronto will pay Burlington's Wescam
(at 649 North Service Rd. West) a visit to seek answers to some very
important questions.  They find military manufacturer Wescam's list of
customers, products and plans disturbing, especially now that massive
military attacks loom for Iraqis.

"The war in 1991, along with the continuing economic war, have produced a
public health disaster and mass death and suffering for the Iraqi people,"
notes Andrew Loucks of Hamilton Action for Social Change.  "United States
and coalition forces deliberately destroyed vital civilian infrastructure,
like sewage treatment plants and electrical stations.  This is a violation
of the Geneva Conventions.  They also used depleted uranium munitions,
which have polluted the south of Iraq and left its citizens with horrific
illnesses. We don't want our community's institutions abetting the
commission of war crimes."

In a November 21 letter to Wescam CEO Mark Chamberlain, Loucks asks whether
it would make Wescam shudder at what its customers are doing with their new
purchases.  "Would it take more destruction of Iraq's civilian
infrastructure?  Another near famine crisis, as was seen in 1991?  The use
of nuclear weapons?  The use of cluster bombs?"

Loucks notes, "It is clear that Wescam has provided militaries with
extensive surveillance, targeting and other imaging equipment.
Loucks is also concerned an extrajudicial execution carried out by an
American "unmanned aerial vehicle" (UAV) in Yemen in early November relied
on Wescam technology.  "Looking to their web site, Wescam appears to have a
large hand in outfitting Predator UAVs, the same kind that killed a
'suspected' Al-Qaeda member, and 5 other people riding in the same
vehicle," Loucks says.

Those who plan to visit are concerned militaristic policies north and south
of the border are being fuelled, in part, by the local economy and a
deafening silence to war and injustice.  "We're not willing to remain
sheepish and accepting of business as usual while our community continues
to outfit militaries bent on starting wars, and committing war crimes with
impunity," Loucks pledges.  "We're going to ask tough questions, and we're
going to ask them here - in Hamilton and Burlington - because we too are
implicated in Washington's war making."

For more information, contact: Hamilton: Andrew Loucks (905-526-7982) or
David Jefferess (905-527-4488) of Hamilton Action for Social Change.
Toronto: Matthew Behrens (416-651-5800) of Toronto Action for Social Change.

The open letter delivered to Wescam on November 21 follows:


November 21, 2002

Mark Chamberlain, President and CEO
649 North Service Rd. West
Burlington, Ontario
Canada L7P 5B9

Dear Mr. Chamberlain,

I am writing as a concerned citizen of Hamilton, Ontario, an alumnus of
McMaster University, and a peace activist.  I am not currently writing on
behalf of any organization, though I am aware of many organizations and
individual members of this community who share my concerns.

Many factors over the last couple of years, one of which being the World
Trade Centre attack on September 11, 2001, have set the western world on a
war path I have been trying to peacefully and effectively oppose.  Many
factors over the last couple of years, including the World Trade Centre
attack, have given Wescam a certain glee, as wars and strong arm foreign
policy mean larger "defence" budgets (at the expense of other programs, no
doubt), and as a culture of fear gives rise to "security" solutions rooted
in mass surveillance, control, racial profiling, and general capability of
violent response.  "Market opportunity" seems to be Wescam's view of these
horrifying developments.  This glee is reflected in your 2001 annual
report, numerous press releases, and so on.  It is clear that Wescam has
provided militaries with extensive surveillance, targeting and other
imaging equipment.

Generally, it is very disturbing to know that in my backyard, so to speak,
a company is profiting off of all of this.  More specifically, and beyond
my own conscience, much of Wescam's recent work could be illegal, and
detrimental to solutions of international conflicts.  I will explain.

Fronting the "Canada and World" section of the November 6 Hamilton
Spectator is a picture of a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).  The
day previous, a Predator was used in an extrajudicial execution of a
"suspected" Al-Qaeda member in Yemen, as well as five other individuals
travelling in the same vehicle.  This act is, very likely, a serious
violation of international law.  I understand, from viewing the Wescam
website fairly extensively, that Wescam has been outfitting Predator UAVs
for quite some time.

War on Iraq is another serious concern.  In the 1991 Gulf War, the United
States and coalition forces purposefully targeted electrical,
communications and water treatment plants.  Much of the country's capacity
in these areas was completely destroyed, leaving it in, as many
international observers pointed out, a near pre-industrial state.  Needless
to say, this created a public health disaster.  Excuses that this was not
intentional, or that planners did not know the long term effects of such an
attack, are baseless, as is shown by George Washington University professor
Tom Nagy's work, at:


Or the US Air Force "Strategic Attack Doctrine Document 2-1.2" at:


Such acts are in clear contravention of the Geneva Conventions,
specifically article 54, which outlaws the destruction of vital civilian

In light of all of this, I have some questions, and some requests.  I will
start with the questions.

At what point, if any, is Wescam willing to stop business with the United
States, and other militaries involved in international crimes and
contraventions of international law?  At what point in a war, if any, would
Wescam shudder to think that technology from a company headquartered in
Burlington, Ontario, would be used in killing and mass destruction?  Would
it take more destruction of Iraq's civilian infrastructure?  Another near
famine crisis, as was seen in 1991?  The use of nuclear weapons?  The use
of cluster bombs?  Fuel air explosives, which have the power to crush tanks
and, almost needless to say, human organs?

Yes, these are value-laden questions, but this is our community, and we
want to know what is going on within it.  Furthermore, we want to shape it
so that it is consistent with our values, and so that it is part of a
solution to local and global problems of peace, security and well-being.
We cannot preach peace keeping while institutions in our own company are
enabling and profiting off of war making.  Furthermore, it will not be
possible to attain disarmament - and certainly not a genuine spirit of
peace to accompany disarmament - if some nations in this world continue to
arm themselves to the teeth with more and more destructive and controlling

Please do not say I am writing to the wrong person, or the wrong people.
Generally, and practically, responsibility lies here, at home, with all of
us.  More specifically, Canada's economy and military are intimately tied
to the United States.  Most specifically, Wescam is producing the very
technology that enables the carrying out of very disturbing, and likely
illegal policies and acts.  By Wescam's own information, 75% of revenue
comes from government (mostly military, I presume) contracts, and 70% of
all revenue from the United States.

I would like to put Wescam's slogan question back on Wescam: How do you,
and the people who work at Wescam, see the world today?  More importantly,
how do you want the world to be today?

My requests are brief and simple.  I will be arriving at Wescam on Tuesday,
December 10, 2002, with a small delegation of colleagues.  We request to
meet with yourself or another representative of Wescam, and to gain access
to more specific information about the production facilities at 649 North
Service Road in Burlington.  I am seeking information on the specifics of
production, the end use of technology produced, past, present and future
research, and so on.  I am willing to sign a confidentiality agreement on
the specifics of Wescam technology, should intellectual property concerns

I look forward to a response to my concerns and requests, including
appropriate legal responses from the authorities to which I have
courtesy-copied this letter.


Andrew Loucks

P.S. Because these matters are so serious, so urgent, and because they go
far beyond my own personal concerns, this is an "open" letter, as they say,
which I will be sharing publicly.

cc:     John Bryden, MP
         Stan Keyes, MP
         Martin Cauchon, Minister of Justice
         John McCallum, Minister of National Defence
         William Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
         Wayne Easter, Solicitor General


for more information, contact:
Homes not Bombs
Canada should build homes, not blow them up
PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West
Toronto, On M6C 1C0
(905) 526-7982, (905) 527-4488 (Hamilton), (416) 651-5800 (Toronto)

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