Activists block railway near General Dynamics protesting arms sales

A group of activists gathers on the CN railway near General Dynamics to protest arms exports to Saudi Arabia. March 26, 2021. (Photo supplied by Labour Against The Arms Trade Canada)

A group of activists blocked some railway tracks in London on Friday, calling on Canada to end exports of locally made arms to Saudi Arabia.

Members from various anti-war organizations were seen on the rail line at Clarke Road and Oxford Street East near General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (GDLS), which manufactures light armoured vehicles.

The group chose to gather on the sixth anniversary of the Saudi-led, Western-backed coalition’s intervention in Yemen’s civil war.

“Since the multi-billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia was first signed, Canadian civil society has published reports, presented petitions, protested at government offices and weapons manufacturers across the country, and delivered several letters to Trudeau in which dozens of groups representing millions have repeatedly demanded Canada stop arming Saudi Arabia,” said Rachel Small of the group World BEYOND War.

Since the pandemic started, Canada has exported more than $1.2 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia, most of which are light armoured vehicles made by GDLS in London.

“Workers want green, peaceful jobs, not jobs manufacturing weapons of war,” said Simon Black, an activist with Labour Against the Arms Trade.

The groups say they will continue to pressure the federal government to end the exports while offering unions alternatives for arms workers.

David Heap of People for Peace London added that funding is needed for rapid conversion from military exports to production for human needs.

“We call for immediate public investment in much-needed green transport industries that will ensure good jobs for Londoners while protecting peace and human rights in the world.”