Protestors say no to arms business as usual at Lockheed Martin offices in Esquimalt

Protestors shut down the Esquimalt offices of Lockheed Martin-Department of National Defence campus on Wednesday morning, as part of a nationwide demonstration of Canada’s involvement in the war in Gaza. Organizers Palestinian Youth Movement, Labour4Palestine, and Vic Mutual Aid blocked entrances to the buildings at 1250 Lockley Rd at 6:30am. As the morning went on, approximately 120 joined their initial group of roughly 30.

“We are calling on the Canadian government to request an arms embargo in place now to cancel all existing and new permits to Israel,” she said, as members of the Esquimalt police force looked on from across the road. A number of squad cars were present but Esquimalt police made no move to remove the protestors.

“We're answering their (Palestinian Youth Movement’s) national call to action to shut down business as usual for weapons manufacturers,” Han Elkhatib, a member of the Movement, told Capital Daily.

While some of its staff entered their offices before the protest began, Lockheed and the DND had sent the majority of their workers home by 9am. Chanting “No business as usual,” protestors said they were acting in coordination with other blockades in Montreal, Toronto, Quebec, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Vancouver. The protests have been supported by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Unifor, National Union of Public and General Employees NUPGE, Oxfam Canada and Quebec, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, and the United Church of Canada.

“Israel is currently using Lockheed Martin-made fighter jets, which are directly bombing and destroying, completely destroying the earth and Gaza and bombing civilians as well,” Elkhatib said.

Multi-city protests target weapons supplied to Israel

On Monday, workers and Canadian union members numbering in the hundreds set up picket lines blocking the morning shift of TTM Technologies’ facility in Scarborough, Ont. TTM Technologies manufactures printed circuit boards allegedly used in bombing systems being exported to Israel.

The manufacture and supply dots can more readily be connected between Lockheed Martin and Israel. According to its website, “Lockheed Martin has proudly played a significant role in the national security of the State of Israel since 1948. This strong relationship has consistently provided the Israeli Air Force with the most advanced capabilities for its operational requirements.”

The list of aircraft Lockheed Martin has supplied to Israel includes its C-130 Hercules “Karnaf” and C-130J “Shimshon” (Bright Sun) transport aircraft, CH-53 heavy lift helicopters, F-16 fighter jets, Blackhawk helicopters and the 5th generation fighter jet, F-35 “Adir" (Strong Ones).

Lockheed Martin goes on to say it “is proud of the significant role it has fulfilled in the security of the State of Israel” and to whom it also has supplied radars, rockets, fire control, and guidance systems.

Lockheed Martin Canada employs 1,400 people across the country and is headquartered in Ottawa. According to its career opportunity page, in Canada, Lockheed “works on a wide range of programs from advanced naval technology products and unmanned systems software to providing delivery and in-service support of the latest military aircraft to commercial engine repair and overhaul capabilities.”

Capital Daily could not establish a direct link between Lockheed Martin’s activities in Victoria and the war in Gaza. Two LM career postings for the location indicate a focus on marine warfare. The first is for a system administrator for maintaining and upgrading the Synthetic Environment Advanced Combat Operator Trainer (SEACOT) Royal Canadian Navy trainer. The Role requires NATO-level security. The second is for a submarine system integration analyst–a role that involves being able to carry out test procedures in submarine combat systems.

What is clear from the geographic constellation, on Lockely Rd, of Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt, the Canadian Department of Defence and Lockheed Martin offices is just how interconnected the two Canadian military institutions are with the global corporate arms manufacturing giant.

The workers and protestors in Victoria said they are picketing Lockheed Martin to materially interfere with war profiteering and what they see as its complicity in the alleged genocide of the Palestinian people. The company, the largest weapons manufacturer in the world, posted a consolidated operating profit of US $65.9B in 2022.

Canadian weapons exports recently flagged by the UN

Last week, UN experts warned “any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel that would be used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law, and must cease immediately.” In its news release, the UN directly named Canada as one of several countries that continues to export military goods to Israel. In 2014, Lockheed Martin doubled its office space in Tel Aviv.

These same experts added that this warning includes any parts of weapons and export licenses such as those parts and weapon components produced by Lockheed Martin, TTM, and Elbit Technologies.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is reporting catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity. In its most recent flash update dated Feb 21, OCHA is reporting that, since October 7, 29,313 Palestinians (the majority being women and children) have been killed and 69,333 injured according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The OCHA reports that 235 Israeli soldiers have been killed and 1,395 soldiers injured in Gaza since the beginning of ground operations in the wake of Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in which 1200 Israelis and foreign nationals were killed in the worst progrom carried out against Jewish people since the Holocaust. To date,134 Israelis and foreign nationals remain captive in Gaza.

Sidney Coles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Capital Daily