By Cym Gomery, Montreal for a World BEYOND War, November 21, 2023
Friday, November 10th likely started out as an unremarkable (war) business day for the employees of 8565 Cote-de-Liesse, but their arms manufacturing business was in for a surprise. At 8 am, 26 determined activists converged at L3Harris’s facilities, blocking the main access door and picketing out front. They held up banners and chanted “Free Palestine!” and other slogans familiar to those who have attended the many protests against Israel’s ongoing massacre of the Palestinian people.
L3Harris is a U.S. arms manufacturer with 15 facilities in Canada. L3Harris manufactures imaging systems, electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) systems and intelligence, and surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) components-that are used in Israeli weapon systems, like air-to-ground bombs, warplanes, battle tanks, and warships. You can read more about how L3Harris arms Israel, here.
This blockade was one of four simultaneous actions, the others being in Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa. The Montreal blocade was jointly organized by Montreal for a World BEYOND War, Decolonial Solidarity, and Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU), and involved banner making, recruiting volunteers, scouting, and research in the weeks leading up to the event. Organizers were pleased with the turnout and the energy of the volunteers that day.
Canada exported over $21 million in military goods to Israel in 2022. Weapons companies across Canada have long been arming Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, but now the death toll has their profits skyrocketing. Over 10,000 Palestinians, almost half of them children, have been slaughtered in just one month; this is unprecedented. L3Harris is making an annual revenue of more than 17 billion dollars.
Growing demand for a ceasefire
Our message to L3Harris was: We know where you are, and what you are doing. We are going to make sure that the public knows as well!
We peace activists recognize that weapons manufacturers are amoral entities–one cannot get a leopard to change its spots. However, we believe that as Canadians become aware of the power of the military-industrial complex within our borders, making us complicit in what is a horrific genocide, people will see our government’s rhetoric and support of Israel for what it is—the self-serving narrative that perpetuates colonialism even as arms manufacturers, certain politicians, and unethical investors line their pockets.
Our message to our so-called representatives in parliament was: The ongoing presence of L3Harris on Canadian soil, and Canada’s contracts with the company are evidence of Canada’s complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people. We don’t accept the presence of these war profiteers in Montreal and we don’t accept Canada’s complicity in war crimes!
The demand for a ceasefire is already supported by the NDP, Green Party, and many Liberal MPs who signed a statement from the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group. More than 200 Canadian civil society organizations have signed a joint statement urging a ceasefire. On November 7th, two public polls (Angus Reid and Mainstreet) showed that a majority of Canadians support the idea of a ceasefire.
Shamefully, however, the Canadian government has refused to call for a ceasefire. To them we say: We will remember the dead, and at the polls, we will remember those who have blood on their hands.
Thank you to everyone who turned out for this protest, and congratulations on a job well done!