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Anatomy of a Canadian Behemoth: pt. 2 (Raising the Social Cost)


On September 8th I published a piece titled “Canadian Bullets, Dead Iraqis”. The peice outlined SNC TEC’s (a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin) involvement in General Dynamics multinational consortium to produce bullets used by US occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. I will still cover all the areas promised, however recent actions targeting SNC-Lavalin have caused me to skip ahead in this series. I will return to SNC’s other involvement’s later.

In “Canadian Bullets, Dead Iraqis” I wrote “Recently rejuvenated after the historic demonstrations in New York, where half a million people were unified in saying “No to the Bush agenda”, a campaign focusing on these contracts could have a direct effect on saving the lives of Iraqis, and give traction to an again waking antiwar movement, beyond just large demonstrations. For the international antiwar movement, which is struggling to live up to its reputation as “the other super power”, such contracts could provide important antiwar campaigns in our own respective nations, raising the social costs and consequences for the US, and other complicit countries, in waging war on Iraq.”

I am happy to say that Canadians have begun to raise these social costs and consequences for SNC-Lavalin. Organizing is taking place both in Toronto and in Vancouver and is very promising. My hope for providing a map for how to resist SNC’s corporate tentacles I think is best illustrated by these efforts and I hope others are able to make parallel connections elsewhere to compliment these efforts.

The Toronto based Homes Not Bombs is holding a Remeberence Day Vigil for Peace and Justice at a Toronto SNC factory. They are also trying to engage the workers in a dialogue to educate them about SNC’s participation in the bullet consortium. Their announcement states, “these workers do not build military stuff — many may not even know what another of their parent company’s subsidiaries is doing — we want to start with a process of invitation to dialogue. We will be there with headstones with the names of those killed by SNC products, to beat on drums until we have counted out the number of people murdered by the occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to flyer employees and passersby.”

They have also sent a letter to the employees of the factory…

Dear Friends,

 
As Canada approaches another Remembrance Day, and we hear the cries of “never again,” we hope that you will consider what role your company, SNC-Lavalin, plays in the perpetuation of war and injustice. Many of you may not know that one of SNC-Lavalin’s subsidiaries is involved in producing products which have only one purpose: murder. Indeed, there is no creative or life-enhancing values attached to SNC’s product. Bullets, and the guns from which they are fired are, pure and simple, tools of terror.

Now that this product will be produced on an even larger scale thanks to a contract jointly signed by SNC Technologies and U.S./Israeli partners, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, who are forced to survive under the human rights violations of U.S. and Canadian occupation, will now face death at a handsome profit to SNC shareholders.

We believe that the best way to remember is to end all war. And so on Nov. 10, we will be holding a nonviolent presence at your Etobicoke offices in the hope that you will join us for dialogue and discussion and how SNC-Lavalin can get rid of such a miserable subsidiary.

Indeed, SNC’s core values states “high standards of health and safety are a primary objective in all our activities worldwide.” This hardly seems consistent with the product produced by SNC.

Our purpose is not to harm or threaten anyone; rather, it is an informational event, and one which will be solemn in its remembrance of ALL victims of wars, regardless of their country.

We look forward to meeting with you.

Peace

The folks at Homes not Bombs

www.homesnotbombs.ca

tasc@web.ca

In Vancouver, SNC-Lavalin is one of two companies biding on an estimated $1.5 billion transit contract. This is a huge P3 (“public/private/partnership”) contract connecting the cities of Richmond, Vancouver, and the Vancouver International Airport (RAV) via our sky train transit lines. Complimenting the Toronto effort, the Vancouver Stop War coalition has composed a press release demanding that SNC-Lavalin withdraw from the multinational consortium or be disqualified from bidding on the RAV project. I think this is a reasonable demand (and I make it below…), especially since the winner of the bid will get both federal and provincial money. This seems a conflict of interest in Vancouver since Vancouver City Council had passed a motion opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In addition, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called the invasion “illegal”.

Here is our press release…

Press Release October 29, 2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

StopWar.ca demands that company bidding on RAV project withdraw from bullet consortium

StopWar.ca, the Lower Mainland’s broad-based antiwar coalition, is demanding that the RAV Project Management Ltd. (RAVCO) Evaluation Committee require SNC-Lavalin Inc. to withdraw from a multinational consortium that has been set up to supply bullets for the U.S. war effort in Iraq. According to StopWar spokesperson Chris Spannos, “If they refuse to withdraw, they should be disqualified from bidding on the RAV project.”

SNC-Lavalin Inc. is a participant in a multinational consortium led by General Dynamics that is bidding on a contract to produce from 300 million to 500 million bullets per year for a period of at least five years.

According to the Financial Times, U.S. occupation forces in Iraq need an additional source of bullets. The single factory that currently produces small caliber ammunition for the occupation is owned by the U.S. army. It does not have the capacity to meet the demand. As a result, the U.S. military is scrambling to get private contractors to fill the gap. The provision of additional bullets is essential for the U.S. occupation to continue.

Vancouver City Council had passed a motion opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called the invasion “illegal”. Commenting on SNC-Lavalin Inc.’s role in the bullet consortium and the RAV bid, Vancouver City Councilor Tim Louis stated, “I think it is completely unacceptable that any government money be paid to this criminal corporation.” (The RAV line will be funded by the federal and provincial governments.)

The Evaluation Committee appointed by the RAVCO Board has begun its review of the “best and final offers” (BAFO) proposals and is due to announce the winner of the RAV contract in mid November.

“In order to qualify for the RAV contract, SNC-Lavalin must be required to withdraw from this proposed consortium,” says Spannos. “Failing to withdraw from the consortium should be the basis for disqualifying them from the RAV bidding process,” he concluded.

Media Contact:
Chris Spannos
Phone: 604.215.8494
E-mail: cspannos@shaw.ca
www.StopWar.ca

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