News that a weapons contract has been awarded to one of the world’s largest arms makers has emboldened two Canadians charged by the federal government for refusing to complete the 2006 census.
On August 27, Lockheed Martin announced that it had received a $61-million contract to produce guided-rocket systems for the U.S. military. Its news release stated: “To date, more than 850 GMLRS [guided multiple-launch rocket system] rockets have been fired in the Global War on Terror.”
In 2004, Statistics Canada awarded Lockheed Martin Canada a $65-million contract for hardware, software, and printing services for the 2006 census, according to Peter Morrison, director general for the census program branch of StatsCan.
In a phone interview, Morrison said that on July 21, 2008, a second contract worth $19.7 million was awarded to the company for work related to the 2011 census.
Saskatoon resident Sandra Findley told the Straight that she is protesting the federal government’s spending of tax dollars on services provided by a company that makes “billions of dollars in the business of killing people”.
Findley, who is being assisted in her defence by Vancouver lawyer Gail Davidson, described Lockheed Martin’s contract with StatsCan as an example of the encroachment of the U.S. military-industrial complex into Canada. “It is very easy to make the argument that the American economy is actually dependent upon the waging of war,” Findley said. “So we are getting tangled up in all of that.”
Darek Czernewcan, a truck driver from Orangeville, Ontario, received notice of the charges last month. The former Vancouver resident told the Straight that he originally opposed completing the census for privacy reasons. After researching the issue, Czernewcan said, he learned of Lockheed Martin’s involvement. He said he also has a problem with taxpayers’ money going to one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers.
Czernewcan explained that during the Cold War, his father was a political prisoner of Poland’s Soviet government. Later, his parents immigrated to Canada to spare Czernewcan from compulsory military service.
“I have this intrinsic aversion to anything military,” he said.
A representative of Lockheed Martin Canada referred the Straight’s questions to StatsCan.
Morrison claimed that he could not comment on “individuals’ concerns”. He said that the contracts were open to bidding, and that Lockheed Martin was the only company to place bids on either contract.
Under the Statistics Act, Canadians who refuse to complete a census face a maximum fine of $500 and three months in prison.
According to an August news release, Lockheed Martin employs 140,000 people worldwide and reported 2007 sales of US$41.9 billion.