Today, Principal Suzanne Fortier laid out her plans for her tenure at McGill in a talk titled “Open, Connected, Purposeful: McGill and the Next Five Years.” Demilitarize McGill and supporters showed up to tell the principal that McGill’s future will not see military research go unchallenged.
Fortier recently told the McGill Daily, “I don’t think there’s any problem in doing research for the Department of National Defence”, adding that she thought McGill’s military research was being conducted in an open and above-board fashion, and dismissing concerns about the heavy redaction of documents obtained through Access to Information requests.
Throughout her career, Fortier has pushed for increasing collaborations between universities and industry, such as those that put McGill resources to work in service of defence contractors Bombardier and Lockheed Martin as well as American and Canadian militaries. In supporting these collaborations, Fortier has made clear that her vision for McGill includes an investment in the continuation of armed conflict — which serves as both market and testing ground for the weapons technology developed at McGill — and a commitment to protecting those relationships at the expense of transparency to students or members of the public requesting information.
Despite the rhetoric of transparency and accountability, Fortier’s neoliberal, profit-driven agenda is fundamentally no different than that of her predecessor, Heather Munroe-Blum. Let’s show her that our resistance is as strong as ever!
By the McGill Daily Editorial Board, published March 24, 2014
On March 14, Demilitarize McGill, a campus group that works to oppose military research at the university, led a blockade of the Aerospace Mechatronics Laboratory in the MacDonald Engineering building. Despite the blockade being peaceful, McGill called the police, invoking the controversial Operating Procedures Regarding Protests and Occupations on McGill University (the ‘protest protocol’), which states that any obstruction of work at the University is not allowed. The blockade was organized in response to access to information requests revealing that researchers at the Laboratory received over $500,000 in contracts from the Defence Research and Development Centre – an agency of the Department of National Defence – to develop research linked to drones. While researchers at the Laboratory argue that the research has potential applications outside of military use, the fact that some of these applications cause harm is enough to give cause for student opposition.
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By Emma Noradounkian, published March 24, 2014 in the McGill Daily
As part of its ongoing fight for access to information (ATI) requests from McGill concerning the University’s military research, Demilitarize McGill, a campus group that aims to end military research at McGill, has recently released selections from its ATI requests to the University. The group aims to make all such documents public in the upcoming weeks.
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In a sign of growing opposition to military research on campus, over twenty people participated Friday morning in a blockade of the Aerospace Mechatronics Lab, the site of ongoing drone research funded by the Canadian military. The action lasted for close to four hours.
At approximately 11:00am, McGill Dean of Students André Costopoulos called the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) onto campus to break up the demonstration. At about 11:30am, four officers entered the Macdonald Engineering Building and approached the blockade. They seized a banner reading “End Drone Research,” indicating they would use force to break up the blockade. All the blockaders were able to leave the building safely, and there were no arrests.
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By Nicolas Quiazua and Laurent Bastien Corbeil, published March 13, 2014 in the McGill Daily
Research at McGill is helping the Canadian military develop drone software for use in combat operations, according to documents obtained through the Access to Information (ATI) Act. Since 2011, the University has received more than $1 million in defence contracts from the Department of National Defence.
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A group of approximately 20 people blocked access this morning to the Shock Wave Physics Group (SWPG) laboratories, in the MacDonald Engineering building at McGill University. Banners reading ‘Demilitarize McGill’ were held at the doors and flyers are being distributed reading: “Stop the bombs. Stop the wars. Stop military research on campuses.”
The blockade was described as an act of opposition to military research at McGill and a condemnation of the SWPG ‘s contribution towards the development of thermobaric weapons.
Since 1967, the SWPG has researched thermobaric explosives, often in collaboration with Canadian and American military agencies. Thermobaric explosives have been used in combat by U.S. forces since the Vietnam war, and more recently during urban warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan.The Syrian regime has also used them to kill civilians in rebel-held areas.
Demilitarize McGill is an ongoing campaign organized by students and community members who intend to interrupt McGill University’s history of complicity in war and colonialist violence by ending military research at the institution.
Demilitarize McGill calls for an end to all forms of support for colonialist and imperialist wars, including but not limited to research done by the Shock Wave Physics Group and other labs and institutes on campus. This blockade is meant as an invitation for students to engage in direct action and disrupt the military research happening on their campus.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
New research by Demilitarize McGill reveals that CFD Lab head Wagdi Habashi is pursuing an ongoing collaboration with a U.S. Air Force-funded researcher at Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Florida, at the same time as Habashi’s company Newmerical Technologies seeks to expand military-related operations out of its Florida office. The research concerns the use of synthetic jet actuators in Micro Air Vehicles, small-sized drones conceived for both surveillance and attack, to protect them against gusts in ‘urban canyon’ environments. The Embry-Riddle researcher, Vladimir Golubev, receives funding from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and Office of Scientific Research. Read more here.
Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system
Demilitarize McGill is publishing new findings today on a previously unreported, potentially ongoing collaboration between McGill, a missile manufacturer, and Israeli military researchers. A research team revolving around Professor Hannah Michalska in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering obtained contracts with Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) and collaborated with Lockheed Martin, one’s of the world’s largest defence contractors, as well as military researchers at the Technion in Israel, to pursue numerous research projects on “tracking of maneuvering targets”, with direct application to guided missile technology. Read more here.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) last week released “Open for Business: On What Terms?”, an analysis of university-corporate collaborations across Canada and their implications for academic integrity and the public interest. The report’s examination of the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec (CRIAQ) in particular piqued the interest of Demilitarize McGill. By early 2013, CRIAQ had enlisted the participation of 14 universities, 9 research centers, and 52 companies to collaborate on research serving the Quebec aerospace industry. Corporate partners include Bell Helicopter, Bombardier, and CAE, the three companies that are partners in the CFD Lab. While the report does not address military research specifically, it offers a thorough analysis of how corporate funding translates into corporate influence and corporate control over research priorities and objectives.
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Demilitarize McGill intervened in the Remembrance Day ceremony on McGill’s downtown campus Monday morning, dropping a banner from the roof in between the Leacock and Arts buildings to signal mounting opposition to military research on campus. The banner, which read simply “Demilitarize McGill,” appeared at 11:00am, coinciding with the moment of silence and 21-gun salute in the middle of the ceremony.In the McGill Daily, we wrote that Remembrance Day “is a rehearsal of selective feeling as much as selective memory,” that “both responds to the demands of nationalism and develops a justification for the continued imperialist exercise of military power.”
As cannon blasts shook windows across campus, security were slow to react upon seeing the banner, which remained in place for over fifteen minutes before being removed.