Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Protest over Lockheed's $16 billion contract

Defence Industry Cheers: Protest over Lockheed's $16 billion contract
by Hillary Bain Lindsay, from Halifax Media Co-Op, September 10, 2010. (Link found via Myths for Profit.)

"This is a racket. You guys are crooks!" shouts Tamara Lorincz as two men leave DEFSEC Atlantic, a defense, security and aerospace exhibition that wraps up today at the Cunard Centre in Halifax.

The men smirk and drive away.

"These guys are producing and pedaling weapons, and they're laughing about it because our government continues to give them money," says Lorincz, one of a dozen members of the Halifax Peace Coalition (HPC) who gathered outside the Cunard Centre on September 9 in protest.

The primary target of the protesters was weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin, who recently received a no-bid contract worth $16 billion to sell the F-35 Joint Strike fighter jets to the Department of National Defence.

Steward Caldwell, a recent graduate of Mount Saint Vincent University, holds up a sign protesting the war in Afghanistan. He says that years of university have left him "horribly in debt" and believes there are better ways to spend $16 billion than giving it to a company that "deals in death and destruction."

"The federal government should be investing in hospitals, schools and affordable housing to provide true security for Canadians, not fighter jets," says Lorincz .

On its website, DEFSEC Atlantic describes the exhibition as an opportunity for the defense industry and government to "network, display, partner and discover potential."

The HPC planned its protest to coincide with Lockheed Martin's "Hour of Good Cheer," a wine and cheese that the weapons manufacturer sponsored on Thursday, immediately following its industry presentation.

"Lockheed is cheering because they're planning on getting 16 billion of our tax dollars," says Lorincz.

"We're in a global recession and the arms trade is profiting. Canadian military spending is at an all time high."

The Nova Scotia department of Rural and Economic Development, one of the exhibition's chief sponsors, was unable to respond to questions for deadline.

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