NOV. 12, 2004 -- The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq -- now responsible for more than 100,000 Iraqi deaths -- came home to employees of SNC-Lavalin in Montreal and Toronto this week as separate actions highlighted disgust that one of the company's subsidiaries, SNC-TEC, is currently under a major contract to supply bullets to the occupation forces.
SNC TEC, based in La Gardeur, Quebec, signed a May, 2004 supply contract with the US military for small calibre bullets. Working with a consortium of military companies led by General Dynamics, the contract was specifically linked to the needs of occupation forces in Iraq.
It is estimated that between 300 and 500 million additional bullets are needed per year, and will be for at least the next five years. The amount of ammunition being used by the US for killing people in Iraq has been so high that domestic suppliers can no longer keep up.
On Remembrance Day in Montreal, dozens of new posters suddenly appeared on bathroom walls throughout the company's headquarters. Showing scenes of torture, death and extreme
brutality experienced in occupied Iraq since the invasion, the
explicit photos were captioned, "Your job? My life!", and "SNC munitions killing Iraqis" (see www.cmaq.net). Photos of Abu Ghraib torture recalled the Remembrance Day slogan "We will never forget".
The employees of 455 Rene-Levesque West, the headquarters of SNC (the same building which conveniently houses the U.S. consulate), were perhaps not aware of the involvement or even the existence of SNC Technologies. But the "civil" wing of this darling of the Quebec business world has itself done more than its part in creating conditions favourable to the rapid and unceasing sale of SNC TEC's deadly wares.
SNC-Lavalin, under a variety of names such as Defence Programs Inc or SNC ProFac, provides other support to Canada's military projects: in Afghanistan, for example, it provides all logistical support to Canadian troops maintaining the occupation and built the military base "Camp Julien".
The company's 2003 annual report happily remarks that "international [military] markets have been brisk," and that "in 2003, for the first time ever, our international sales surpassed our domestic sales." While a stronger Canadian dollar has harmed their U.S. prospects in the short term, the company is committed to enhancing "our productivity and our position in the world's largest defence market... [with] a range of products large enough to offer one-stop shopping."
And what an export market they have, including human rights violators Belarus, Algeria, Azerbaijan, and Iran. Those and numerous other countries have received the expertise of SNC, a company which promotes a "zero harm culture."
Through their subsidiary EXPRO TEC, they are also "the only company qualified to produce M30A2 propellant used in the US Navy's 155 mm Modular Artillery Charges." Canadians seriously wondering how they can force the empire into a bit of a spot now know one more place they can blockade (EXPRO is in Valleyfield, QC) to interrupt the war.
SNC is also an ardent promoter of privatization programs in Quebec and around the world. Notably, its President and Executive Director, Jacques Lamarre, sits on the Quebec Bosses Union, as well as the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) - two organizations which lobby aggressively for free movement of (their) profits, the oppression of immigrants and refugees through a further militarization of borders and the further economic and military integration of Canada and the United States.
When Paul Martin's government announced last January that Canadian companies could bid on Iraq "reconstruction" contracts, the company spokesperson, Gillian MacCormack, expressed the
company's delight, "We believe that the fact that Canadian companies now have this opportunity is marvellous, and we are certainly interested."
At SNC, this "war on terrorism" increases the sales of weapons which are used to colonize and promote a devastating re-engineering of all aspects of the environment, health and vital infrastructure.
SNC TORONTO: WHY ARE THEY SO AFRAID?
The day before Remembrance Day in Toronto, the Etobicoke headquarters of SNC was abuzz with news of SNC's bullet contract as well. Thanks to a company management which would rather batten down the hatches than have a dialogue with a small group of peaceniks, our message was received far more successfully than we could have hoped for.
Three weeks ago, Homes not Bombs wrote an open letter to the Toronto SNC employees explaining why we would be holding a vigil and asking them to enter a dialogue on divesting SNC-Lavalin of its munitions producer. The only response from the company was silence; they had turned this letter over to police forces.
Then, the day before the Toronto vigil, Homes not Bombs received an email from a sympathetic employee who alerted us to the fact that our open letter never made it to employees. But in a magical kind of way, an internal memo from the company President, Marylynne Campbell, essentially revealed to the employees what many did not know: that a brother company was producing tools of terror, and Homes not Bombs would be protesting this fact.
The language of the letter was one of fear, going straight from a description of the demonstration to a note on "security measures" to be taken, including the need for a security pass to enter and leave the building and use the elevators. Campbell advised employees to bunker down, forget about going out to lunch, and be prepared to stay in the building until the end of the day.
By providing the name of our group, employees were able to go to our website and figure things out for themselves, where many found our open letter.
Anyone who goes to the website (www.homesnotbombs.ca) and sees pictures of police busting the Easter Bunny at Loblaws or the Cowardly Lion laying down the law to police outside Canada's home of space warfare would begin to see the true nature of the threat posed by Homes not Bombs. And so in droves employees streamed out at lunch, many of them happy to take the flyers we presented and discuss the issue.
Few seemed fazed by the fact that a group of 15 demonstrators were matched by more than 15 police and private security, who used their squad cars to block up the east entrance. Deployed police on bicycles followed us as we moved strategically so all people in the building could see us.
While the police response was a tad flattering, we took solace in the fact that this meant it was probably a less stressful day for some of the division's poor and homeless residents, three of whom, we were told by some local residents, have apparently been shot by police in recent months (since SNC produces bullets for Canadian police, one wonders how many were taken down with SNC products).
One of the most consistent replies from employees was "we don't do that here," and "we are not involved." So where does the chain of responsibility get picked up? One employee who wrote to us said that, although sympathetic, there were fears about keeping one's job. Nevertheless, this individual suggested we urge SNC employees to stop buying company stock and sell off what they do own as a protest.
Of course, one could claim, for example, that this Toronto building and its hundreds of employees are far removed from the production of bullets in Quebec, but there in the 2003 annual report is a full page picture of the happy "Members of the Office of the President," with Toronto's Marylynne Campbell seated two pillows away from SNC TEC President Michael Novak.
Campbell writes to her employees, "While we respect the right of all people to voice their opinions, we feel that as long as the governments of Canada and other NATO countries have elected to have armed and police forces, these soldiers and police officers require munitions. SNC TEC personnel has been given the mandate to provide our own armed forces, our police forces, and those of other NATO countries with the very best equipment available, and we are proud of the high standard of work they carry out, as are these employees."
The language is curious, for what is strictly a profitable contract is suddenly a "mandate," and the existence of armed forces is magically turned into a choice that was part of some election!!??!!
At some point, though, someone has to be responsible for these bullets. With SNC-Lavalin revenues of over $3 billion last year, almost 10% of those revenues came from SNC TEC. Given that SNC's share of the war market represents only 10% of its revenues, it seems SNC could be vulnerable to a call for divestment.
WHAT CAN WE DO:
1. Encourage municipal and provincial authorities to NOT sign contracts with any SNC subsidiary until SNC TEC and EXPRO TEC have been divested from the company (especially those city councils which passed anti-war resolutions in 2003).
2. Hold a vigil at a local SNC office (they are everywhere, listed below) encouraging employees to ramp up the pressure inside the office place. Let us not demonize those who work in accounting, but encourage them to act out their conscience and, with our support, build the support for divestment. Ask how their slogan, "For a Better World," is consistent with a product that kills.
It seems this has the potential for a very strong campaign which could garner the support of many of the corporation's employees, a portion of whom are no doubt horrified by the crimes in Iraq and SNC's role in those crimes. And so reaching out to those employees to encourage them to pressure their management just might have an effect.
3. Ask your MP why a Canadians firm is supplying bullets to murder Iraqis. Also ask if SNC-Lavalin's major donations to the Liberal Party are what may have prevented Liberals from speaking out on this contract.
Ultimately, what is taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan are war crimes. Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program clearly states, "A person is considered complicit if, while aware of the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity, the person contributes directly or indirectly to their occurrence. Membership in an organization responsible for committing the atrocities can be sufficient to establish complicity if the organization in question is one with a single brutal purpose, e.g. a death squad."
On Monday, January 17, Martin Luther King Day, we at Homes not Bombs in Toronto will be engaging in nonviolent direct action at SNC-Lavalin's corporate headquarters.
We would like to encourage peace groups across the country to hold demonstrations at SNC locations listed below on that same day. No, these other branches may not be involved directly in the production of bullets, but it is not a defence under law to say that the right hand knows not what the left is doing when they are both connected to one body.
(report compiled by reports from Block the Empire, firstname.lastname@example.org and Homes not Bombs)
1. Letter from SNC President to Employees
2. Homes not Bombs response
3. List of SNC locations
1. To all employees at SNC-Lavalin's Lakeshore Boulevard office:
We have been informed that a group calling itself "Homes not Bombs" is
planning a demonstration about the manufacture of munitions by our Defence
division, SNC Tec, at lunch time on Wednesday, November 10, 2004.
As part of security measures, you will be required to use your security pass
card to enter and exit the building and to use the elevators on November 10.
You may also want to consider bringing your lunch to work that day to avoid
having to leave the building before the end of the day. We apologise for any
inconvenience these arrangements may cause.
As you may know, SNC Tec's 1500 employees manufacture small, medium and large munitions for Canada's Armed Forces, for clients in the US and in
other NATO countries, as well as for the police forces of these countries.
They also manufacture munitions for simunition training for all these forces
- civil as well as armed - as well as propellants, which are used in the
manufacture of airbags for cars.
While we respect the right of all people to voice their opinions, we feel
that as long as the governments of Canada and other NATO countries have
elected to have armed and police forces, these soldiers and police officers
SNC Tec personnel has been given the mandate to provide our own armed
forces, our police forces, and those of other NATO countries with the very
best equipment available, and we are proud of the high standard of work they
carry out, as are these employees.
November 8, 2004
President, SNC-Lavalin Engineers and Constructors
2. Homes not Bombs
Canada should build homes, not blow them up
PO Box 73620, 509 St Clair Ave. West
Toronto, ON M6C 1C0
NOVEMBER 10, 2004
PAGE 1 OF 2
President, SNC-Lavalin Engineers and Constructors
Dear Ms. Campbell,
We look forward to meeting you later today during our noon-hour nonviolent vigil at your headquarters. While we appreciate you informing employees about our impending presence, it dismays us that you did not distribute our open letter to your employees, both for the essence of our demonstration as well as its tone.
It is very clear in our letter to employees that ours is a nonviolent group interested in dialogue, not the kind of group that would keep employees inside the building at the expense of a lunch break.
Indeed, once you mention our gathering, you proceed to stating "As part of security measures," as if we pose a security threat. Already, your position is one which mirrors those who make war, which is to make this into an us-them confrontation instead of what it is clearly intended to be, an invitation to dialogue, to problem solving, to resolution of a conflict.
When we resort to fear and hiding behind closed doors because people ask simple questions, we enter the same state of anxiety which leads nations to construct walls, build weapons, and claim they are defending themselves against a "threat" which most are unfamiliar with, if it even exists.
As far as your position on the construction of the tools of terror, Canada has never held an election over such issues, so it is inaccurate to make it sound like the production of hundreds of millions of bullets has been arrived at in a democratic, legal fashion. Indeed, as the case of Diemaco has shown, when companies want to make a buck off of war and the rules do not allow them to do so, they simply lobby their sponsors in the government to make the changes required to enter the export market.
And those who DO use SNC's deadly products are engaged in illegal operations which not only violate the standard norms of international law, but also the basic rules of human decency. Indeed, the U.S. regularly targets electricity transmission facilities, water treatment plants, hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, and other civilian infrastructure (and openly admits it does so).
Here are two quick references for you which confirm the Pentagon's knowing destruction of civilian infrastructure:
http://www.progressive.org/0801issue/nagy0901.html for further information on this crime.
It is easy for those of us who live in a country which has never faced such massive violence to sit back and pretend it is not our responsibility to put a stop to it. Those of us who have heard the voices of the victims, at least those who have survived such trauma, know it is far more complicated than you make it out to be. To say SNC has a mandate to provide armed forces with products that have only one purpose -- murder -- is to make it sound like a noble mission, but let's face some facts: SNC would not go out of its way to provide such weapons if it were not getting paid. This is a question of profits, not nobility, of a monetary contract, not a moral mandate.
It is because these issues are so complex that we again extend our nonviolent hand inviting dialogue.
The folks at Homes not Bombs
3. SNC LOCATIONS
Calgary, SNC-Lavalin Inc., 605 - 5th Avenue SW - 14th floor, Calgary, Alberta T2P 3H5
Telephone :(403) 294-2100, Fax : (403) 294-2777
SNC-Lavalin ATP Inc., 1035 - 7 Avenue S.W., Calgary, Alberta T2P 3E9
Telephone :(403) 539-4555
Fax : (403) 539-4554
Dartmouth, SNC-Lavalin Inc., 40 Fielding Avenue, Darthmouth, Nova Scotia
Telephone : (902) 468-6230
Fax : (902) 468-7864
Dollard des Ormeaux, SNC-Lavalin ProFac Inc., 3633 des Sources Blvd.
Suite 203, Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec H9B 2K4
Telephone : (514) 683-7370, ext. 202
Fax : (514) 683-7172
Edmonton, SNC-Lavalin Inc., 10235 - 101 Street, Suite 608, Edmonton, Alberta
Telephone : (780) 426-1000
Fax : (780) 412-6288
Fredericton, SNC-Lavalin Inc. (Fredericton), 500 Beaverbrook Court
Fredericton, New-Brunswick E3B 5X4
Telephone : (902) 492-4544
Fax :(902) 492-4540
Halifax SNC-Lavalin Inc. (Maritimes), 5657 Spring Garden Road, Suite 200
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3R4
Telephone : (902) 492-4544
Fax : (902) 492-4540
Le Gardeur, SNC Technologies Inc. 5 Montée des Arsenaux, Le Gardeur, QC
Longueuil, SNC-Lavalin Inc., General Engineering and Environment
2271, boul. Fernand-Lafontaine, Longueuil, Quebec, J4G 2R7
Telephone : (450) 638-6677
Fax : (450) 638-6425
SNC-Lavalin Audet (Agri-food Engineering), 2271 Fernand-Lafontaine West Longueuil, Quebec J4G 2R7
Telephone :(450) 677-1455
Fax :(450) 677-1489
Mississauga, Canatom NPM Inc. 2655 North Sheridan Way, Suite 180
Mississauga, Ontario L5K 2P8
Telephone :(905) 829-8808
Fax :(905) 829-8809
SNC-Lavalin Inc., 455 René-Lévesque Blvd. West Montreal, Quebec H2Z 1Z3
Telephone : (514) 393-1000
Fax :(514) 866-0739
SNC-Lavalin ProFac Inc., 1500 Ottawa Street, Suite 11, Montreal, Quebec H3C 4B2
Nexacor Realty Management Inc. 87 Ontario Street West, 2nd Floor
Montreal, Quebec H2X 1Y8
Mount Pearl, BAE-Newplan Group Limited, 1133 Topsail Road, P.O. Box 487
Mount Pearl, Newfoundland A1N 2W4
Telephone :(709) 748-2910
Fax :(709) 368-3541
Ottawa SNC-Lavalin Defence Programs Inc., 170 Laurier Avenue West
Suite 1100, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5V5
Telephone : (613) 567-1948
Quebec City, SNC-Lavalin Piette, Audy, Bertrand, Lemieux et associés
5500, boul. des Galeries, Suite 200, Quebec City, Quebec G2K 2E2
Telephone :(418) 621-5500
Fax :(418) 621-9090
Lalonde, Girouard, Letendre et associés ltée, 84, rue Saint-Germain Est
Rimouski, Quebec G5L 1A6
Saint-Constant, Pellemon (1998) Inc., 35, rue Saint-Pierre, Suite 001
Saint-Constant, Quebec J5A 5A6
Telephone :(450) 638-6677
Fax :(450) 638-6425
Sarnia, SNC-Lavalin Engineers & Constructors Inc., Industrial
265 North Front Street, Sarnia, Ontario N7T 7X1
Telephone : (519) 336-0201
Fax :(519) 336-0209
St-Laurent, St-Laurent National Project Office
555 McArthur St. Suite 1498, St-Laurent, Quebec
Telephone : (514) 840-3555
Fax : (514) 840-3555
SNC-Lavalin Energy Control Systems Inc., 2425 Pitfield Blvd.
St-Laurent, Quebec, H4S 1W8
Telephone :(514) 334-6780
Fax :(514) 334-2610
Thetford Mines, Fréchette LGL
69, rue Notre Dame Sud, Thetford Mines, Quebec G6G 1J4
Telephone :(418) 338-4631
Fax :(418) 338-6564
Toronto, SNC-Lavalin Inc., 2200 Lake Shore Blvd. West, Toronto
Telephone : (416) 252-5311
Fax : (416) 231-5356
SNC-Lavalin Pharma Inc, 789 Don Mills Road, 10th Floor, Toronto, Ontario
SNC-Lavalin ProFac Inc., 304 The East Mall, Suite 900 ,Toronto, Ontario
Telephone : (416) 207-4724
Fax : (416) 207-4724
SNC-Lavalin ProFac Inc., 205 Wellington, Toronto, OntariO
Telephone : (416) 205-6802
Fax : (416) 205-5983
Pacific Liaicon and Associates Inc.
1075 W Georgia St. Suite 950, Vancouver, British Columbia
Telephone : (604) 605-5984
Fax : (604) 683-1672
Winnipeg, SNC-Lavalin Engineers & Constructors Inc.
200-1600 Ness Avenue, Madison Square, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Telephone : (204) 786-8080
Fax : (204) 786-7934
Office : 407 ETR
6300 Steeles Avenue West
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