Protesters Demand an End to Canadian Weapons Sales to Israel, Call Out Winnipeg MP at Local McDonalds

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by Candice Bodnaruk

Candice Bodnaruk, speaking at a pro-Palestine liberation action in Winnipeg on Feb. 17, 2024

Since last October, when Israel’s War on Gaza began, Peace Alliance Winnipeg members have both organized and participated in demonstrations at the offices of both Liberal and Conservative Members of Parliament.

The original request was that our political leaders advocate for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Our most recent “ask” along with supporting a ceasefire, is that our federal leaders call for a 2- way embargo on weapons sales between Canada and Israel.

According to the Annual Report on Military Exports released in June 2023, Canada exported over $21,000,000 in military hardware to Israel in 2022.

A major portion of Canada’s exports (almost $5,000,000) is related to military aircraft, while over $3,000,000 is categorized as explosives or related components. Canadian-made components have been integrated into the F-351 Joint Strike Fighter, which is being used in Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza.

In the Netherlands, an appeal court has now ordered the Dutch government to halt the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to the U.S- citing violations of international law. Dutch civil society organizations like Oxfam and the Rights Forum, had previously launched a legal challenge against their government for supplying F-35 components to Israel. Canadians must do the same and immediately halt all weapons transfers to Israel or Canada risks contributing to International Law violations, including war crimes in Gaza.

We have been trying to connect MPs on Canadian weapons sales to Israel since late last fall. There have been snap rallies at MPs offices in Winnipeg, including at Conservative MP Marty Morantz’s office, as well as Liberals Dan Vandal and Terry Duguid. We also posted information in these ridings, encouraging voters to sign e-petition 4745 calling for a 2-way arms embargo between Canada and Israel. The petition was sponsored by NDP MP Heather McPherson.

Most recently we were able to meet in-person with MP Kevin Lamoureux. We began writing letters to him late last year, and in December I finally received an email response.

A couple of weeks back, Palestinian Solidarity activists were able to meet him at McDonald’s (where he has coffee a couple times a month and meets voters). At this meeting we were able to bring our concerns about Canadian complicity in Israel’s War on Gaza.

Our meeting with him lasted about 20 minutes. The discussion concluded when MP Lamoureux became frustrated with our demands, called our views “extreme”, then stood up and walked away. We already knew, before the meeting, that this MP was a major Israel supporter and that he also travels their quite regularly with his daughter, Cindy Lamoureux, as a tourist.

During our discussion he proceeded to defend Israel and refer to them as a Canadian ally. He also stated that he did not believe Israel was practising Apartheid in Gaza or Palestine and commented that there were many other human rights abuses around the world that we could be concerning ourselves with. He almost seemed mystified as to why we would be protesting against Israel at all.

After that disappointing meeting we decided to hold a protest at the McDonalds when we knew he would be there. On February 17 a group of us gathered outside the restaurant on Keewatin with placards and our voices. One of our messages was “Kevin Lamoureux supports Israeli Genocide in Gaza”. We also had placards aimed at Prime Minister Trudeau. The action also focused on McDonalds’ decision to serve free meals to Israeli soldiers after October 7. “McDonalds: Stop Feeding the Israeli Genocide in Gaza” was one of our messages aimed at the fast food chain. [For video of this action, click on this link.]

During the protest we chanted and waved at passing cars. Many people honked or flashed a thumbs up or peace sign in support. McDonalds staff came out briefly to talk with us but otherwise the event was peaceful. It was a productive, energetic action that seemed even more worthwhile when Lamoureux was required to face our protest to get into his vehicle. He clearly was not happy to see us.

Lamoureux has been meeting voters at McDonalds for years without anyone questioning or challenging his loyalty to Israel. That has got to change now. Canadian politicians must remember who elected them- Canadians. Our politicians work for us- not for Israelis.

Someone mentioned to me recently that maybe our McDonalds demo will have another impact- McDonalds will become tired of protesters showing up at their restaurant every couple weeks and ask Lamoureux to hold his meetings elsewhere. We will have to wait and see.

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