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May 18, 2006

"No consensus on Lockheed and the Census"

No consensus on Lockheed and the Census
World’s largest weapons maker will crunch census numbers this year

http://www.herenb.com/saintjohn/issues/0720/consensus.html
Chris Arsenault

It's census time again, but this year the world's largest weapons maker will be paid millions to crunch the nation's numbers.

Lockheed-Martin, which supplies Bradley fighting vehicles, F-22 war planes and other tools of destruction to the American military, has been awarded the government contract to process data from the census.

Some people in New Brunswick aren't happy about Canadian tax dollars enriching a company whose existence is predicated on perpetual war; a few are even advocating people boycott the census until a public company without military connections is reinstalled.

"Boycotting the census is about refusing to line the pockets of a company that actively seeks out more war to sell its weapons of mass destruction, nuclear arms, depleted uranium and weapons banned in Canada like land mines," said Tracey Glynn a peace activist based in Fredericton.

"Our contract is for providing hardware software, printing and support services for the census," said Michael Barton, Lockheed's media relations officer in Canada; the company posted more than $31 billion in 2003 revenue. Human Rights Watch listed Lockheed Martin as one of the companies producing land mine components.

According to Barton, "Our team is providing an automated data capture and coding system that will digitally capture information from respondent Census questionnaires." He assures citizens from the 12 million households who will receive the census that, "Information collected will be under the control of Statistics Canada at all times." When the idea giving the census contract to Lockheed was first being discussed in 2002/03 by StatsCan, officials were to give Lockheed full control over all the data. But public pressure, including a mass e-mail campaign co-ordinated by groups like CountMeOut.ca, and http:// www.vivelecanada.ca/, forced StatsCan to change the nature of the contract.

According to the Chief Statistician of Canada, Ivan P. Fellegi, "Given the public concerns, we have decided to limit the scope of this contract...Under the new arrangement, only Statistics Canada employees will have access to completed census returns." Pressure changed the policy once, and New Brunswickers like Tracey Glynn hope they can alter it for good.

Fellegi urges people not to boycott the census and it is a crucial and positive public policy tool. However, some argue we don't need to acquire the data through financing a politically-connected company who seeks 'full spectrum dominance' in producing weapons of mass destruction.

"I wrote the Republican Party's foreign policy platform," boasted Bruce P. Jackson, Vice President of Lockheed-Martin between 1993-2001, at the Republican Convention in 2000. Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick, served on Lockheed's board, taking home $120,000 per year.

Lockheed's annual revenue was $31.8 billion. In 1997-98 alone, Lockheed spent $10.2 million lobbying U.S. Politicians; their influence is also growing here in Canada and with it grows the disgust of many citizens.

With 2003 revenues of the company incurred major benefits from the so-called war on terrorism; Lockheed's stock value has tripled since the 9-11 attacks, according to The New York Times. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a non-partisan national think tank, recently rated Lockheed Martin one of the ten worst corporations in the world.

In 2003, weeks before the invasion of Iraq officially began, a group of 40 social activists, including several New Brunswickers, occupied Lockheed Martin's Halifax office, disrupting business as usual for half the day.

When former US President Dwight D.

Eisenhower, ironically one of the most accomplished military leaders to ever hold the office, warned the country and the world about the growing power of the "military industrial complex" he probably wouldn't have imagined that national security spending in the US now surpasses $500 billion a year, and is growing here in Canada.

According to Dana Brown, a member of the Fredericton Social Network, "Through administering our Census, Lockheed is profiting off of public tax dollars and now ordinary Canadians have innocent blood on their hands."


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