Two dozen protesters with picket signs and megaphones gathered outside the Cunard Centre on Marginal Street in Halifax today to demonstrate their opposition to a job fair for students of Mount Saint Vincent University, Dalhousie, and Saint Mary's. The job fair included recruiters for Lockheed Martin, the world's largest arms manufacturer.
Asaf Rashid of the Student's Coalition Against War (SCAW) dressed in a white lab coat and an orange hardhat, spoke to the crowd through a megaphone. "This is not the only action" students are taking against Lockheed Martin, he said.
Pamphlets distributed at the demonstration highlight Lockheed Martin's profits from war, pointing out that the company's share price more than doubled after former US president Bush's "War on Terror," and that Lockheed makes the F-16 fighter jets used in the recent attacks on Gaza in which Israeli forces killed over 1,300 Palestinians.
On January 20 of this year, the student groups STRAX and community allies shut down a similar event, officially denouncing the presence of Lockheed Martin representatives on campus and the company's reps' intent to recruit students.
Rashid then introduced himself as Dr. Clusterbomb of the Weapons Inspection Team. "Inside [the job fair] are some dangerous elements: the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Lockheed Martin, and [Canadian military] defence," he said.
Dr. Clusterbomb announced his intention to enter the job fair "just to see how everyone's doing."
"Not only does Lockheed Martin produce weapons of mass destruction, but also weapons of mass deception," he said. Clusterbomb then tried to enter the fair, trailed by a dozen reporters. He was denied entry by private security and police. A job fair organizer told him he needed to hold a valid student ID to gain access to the event.
Chelsea Golding and Christina Nadeira, Arts students at MSVU who were attending the job fair, were among those delayed at the door because of the protest.
"I'm all for freedom of speech," said Golding as she and Nadeira made their way to the mandatory coat check, which was in effect because of the protest.
"My dad is in Afghanistan. We need production [of weapons] to kill the people who need to be killed. If we didn't have that kind of thing we wouldn't be here," said Golding. She added, "I've never been in the middle of a protest. This was intense."
"No war in our schools! No war in our town!" shouted protesters.
"The spirit of science is supposed to be indifferent. Lockheed Martin gave a $2 million research grant to Dalhousie. Therefore, research [done at Dal] will be flawed because of the school's financial interest in war technology being furthered," said Nova Scotia College of Art and Design students Devin Krupnick and Nadia Gemeinhardt.
Members of SCAW say that Lockheed's funding of Dalhousie research programs, as well as their presence at the job fair, is illegal because Lockheed produces cluster munitions. In December 2008, Canada signed the UN Convention on Cluster Munitions, which demands, among other things, that signatories not use cluster munitions, not develop or produce cluster munitions, and not assist or encourage any activity prohibited under the signed Convention.
"They hire high security and hold the fair in a location that is difficult to enter," Rashid explained to reporters. Dal and St. Mary's "know what they are doing" when organizing job fairs featuring Lockheed Martin, CSIS and the Canadian military, he said.
Police officers were almost as numerous as protesters. "There are some good jobs in there," one officer commented.
Jane Kirby and Angela Day, both Dalhousie students, and both members of SCAW, had been inside the job fair, and were removed by police for distributing pamphlets denouncing Lockheed Martin's involvement in the job fair.
"The cop came up to me, grabbed my arm, twisted it backwards and threw me out the door. I think it's despicable that this is what Dal is offering to students who are simply passing out educational information with smiles on their faces and trying to engage people," said Day. "They're not even accepting that."
Click here to listen to an audio report of today's event.