Sunday, April 27, 2003

Human Rights to the Court

Wescam protesters acquitted

Three men arrested for trespassing following an anti-war demonstration in December at Wescam were acquitted last week following a one-day trial in Burlington court. 

Andrew Loucks, David Jefferess and Matthew Behrens were part of a 25-person protest Dec.10, 2002 at the local high-tech company located at 649 North Service Rd. 

Loucks said the group was there to request a meeting with Wescam officials to discuss the belief the company's technology might contribute to what was then an impending war in Iraq. 

Following a brief protest the men were arrested by Halton police and charged with trespassing. 

They were acquitted last week before Justice of the Peace Barry Quinn. 

Loucks, who is from Hamilton, said the trio is happy with the acquittal and plans to continue protesting. 

"We're definitely going to continue, people have been continuing in Burlington," he said. "There are a couple of folks who are there pretty much every night just raising the issue to folks who happen to drive by."

Jefferess is also from Hamilton, while Behrens lives in Toronto. 

Wescam - one of the city's best-known companies - designs and manufactures high-tech camera equipment. 

Bruce Latimer, Wescam's vice-president of corporate development said the company accepts the court's decision. 

"I think Mr. Justice Quinn provided a well-reasoned decision based on the evidence that was placed before him," he said. 

In response to the protest in December, Latimer told the Post details about the company, its products and clients are available online at and noted while the company produces high-tech camera equipment for military uses, it also makes cameras for other purposes. 

"We run the full gamut from sporting search and rescue operations," he said. Latimer also noted Wescam has a long history of service in the Golden Horseshoe area. 

"We have been a proud member of the Hamilton/Burlington community for 25 years," he said. 

"The tragic events of Sept. 11 have highlighted what we do but it hasn't changed the business."

By Robb Swybrous, Burlington Post Staff.

Thursday, April 24, 2003


"Wescam Three" Acquitted

Anti-War Protesters Cleared of Trespass Charges but Sternly Lectured on the Pre-Eminence of Private Property by Restaurateur turned Justice of the Peace These people [military manufacturer Wescam] run a business. I don't know what it is and I don't care what it is." - Burlington Crown Attorney Tom Davies
April 24, Burlington, ON - Following a strange day in court, three people charged with trespassing at a peace demonstration last year were acquitted of the charges in Halton Provincial Court today.
Andrew Loucks and David Jefferess of Hamilton and Matthew Behrens of Toronto had been part of a group of 20 people who gathered at the site of Burlington, Ontario military manufacturer Wescam last December 10, 2002, International Human Rights Day, to seek a meeting with the head of the company. They were charged with trespassing.
But the road to acquittal was a rocky one, as an air of acrimony greeted them upon their arrival in court.
Perhaps it was the fact that the justice of the peace, the Harris government appointee Barry Quinn, was concerned about his brother's bleak employment prospects (we were told his brother Pat is the likely-to-be-dismissed head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, booted from the hockey playoffs in the first round just two days earlier.)
Or maybe it was just a case of general malaise because when it comes to holding military manufacturers accountable to the community and international law, concepts like openness, transparency, and democracy take a back seat to the market "opportunities" offered up in the slaughter of Afghani or Iraqi citizens. Especially when those market opportunities are developed and manufactured from behind the safe fortress of private property which courts value so highly.
For Wescam, Sept. 11, 2001 and the subsequent escalation of war and repression have been a boon, with the expectation that billions will flow into their coffers to provide military equipment to a broad range of human rights violators (the U.S., Egypt, Colombia) as well as surveillance and control technology to those who would shut down borders to refugees and those who would repress political demonstrations.
Wescam is well known for the targetting system of the Predator, the unmanned aerial vehicle which was called one of the "superstars" of the recent atrocities committed against the Iraqi people, the Cobra attack helicopter, and the C-130 (the last used to especially deadly effect in Afghanistan), among many others.