As manufacturers in Canada continue to ship weapons to Israel, the Canadian government is facing increased pressure to impose an arms embargo at least until Israel agrees to a permanent ceasefire in its bloody siege of Gaza. Ottawa, however, has stubbornly resisted taking such a step.
In response, anti-war protesters have blockaded facilities which produce arms for Israel. The first round of these coordinated actions was on November 10, when activists blocked at least four facilities operated by L3Harris and Lockheed Martin, in Ontario and Quebec.
Blockades were back on December 11 and 12, at the Pratt & Whitney plant in Mississauga, Ontario and at several Canadian offices of Israeli cargo shipping company Zim. As with the November actions, these were organized by a number of anti-war organizations including World BEYOND War and Labour for Palestine.
Pratt & Whitney, a huge military contractor, makes engines for the military aircraft which Israel is using in its bombing campaign in Gaza. Workers arriving at the corporation’s Mississauga plant on December 12 were turned away by more than 200 protesters with banners reading “Stop Arming Apartheid” and “Arms Embargo on Israel Now.”
World BEYOND War organizer Rachel Small said the action was in response to Canada’s ongoing military support to Israel. “If the Canadian government won’t stop the flow of weapons to Israel and stop companies like Pratt & Whitney Canada from exporting weapons used in Israeli war crimes, then those of us with a moral conscience are forced to take whatever actions we can to stop a genocide.”
Labour for Palestine spokesperson Hind Awwad said that Pratt & Whitney has been profiting from Israel’s apartheid and occupation for decades. “With a 15-year contract to service the fleet of fighter jets carrying out the genocide in Gaza, it [Pratt & Whitney] is profiting from Israel’s ongoing attacks on Palestinians, using mass killing to fuel a new, longer-term business model.”
A day earlier, on December 11, protesters blocked access to Canadian offices of Zim, Israel’s largest cargo shipping company. The corporation’s offices in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver were all taken over by anti-war activists.
Zim announced in November that it would make its ships and infrastructure available to serve the “national needs of Israel.” This is code for corporate support to Israel’s genocidal assault – Zim has been fingered for transporting highly incendiary white phosphorus which Israel has used against civilians.
In addition to occupying Zim’s offices, protesters also dropped a banner over the CN rail tracks in Toronto and blockaded CN tracks in London, Ontario. The company uses CN railway lines as well as Canadian ports to ship arms from Canada to Israel.
“Logistics companies, arms manufacturers and politicians in every corner of the country are shamelessly supporting and profiting from the mass murder of Palestinians,” said Rachel Small. “While Prime Minister Trudeau refuses to do the right thing, those with a moral conscience are forced to take whatever actions we can to stop a genocide.”
The December actions were also in response to calls from Palestinian unions for workers around the world to disrupt the transport of weapons to Israel. “Workers in Canada are taking up the call from workers in Palestine to disrupt the flow of weapons,” said Labour for Palestine’s Aidan Macdonald, “and we will not allow our cities and ports to be part of the supply chain for the bombs raining down on the people of Gaza.”
Companies in Canada that are involved in arming Israel include INKAS, L3 Harris, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, ZIM and Elbit subsidiary Geo-Spectrum Technologies. All have had their operations disrupted by anti-war activists since Israel began its siege of Gaza.
[Photo of London rail blockade: World BEYOND War]
Support socialist media!
If you found this article useful, please consider donating to People’s Voice or purchasing a subscription so that you get every issue of Canada’s leading socialist publication delivered to your door or inbox!
For over 100 years, we have been 100% reader-supported, with no corporate or government funding.