Photo of protesters are holding up banners reading "END COMPLICITY IN GENOCIDE" and "END ISRAELI APARTHEID" and blockade the entrance to the Colt Canada building in Kitchener, Ontario.


We often think of our region and the people in it as having a neutral or positive role in the world, maybe with a vague notion of the global impact from tech innovation. The military-industrial complex is likely not the first thing to come to mind.  

Recent local demonstrations and blockades of Senstar, Magellan and Colt Canada brought to light certain locally operated businesses’ role in facilitating Israel’s ongoing “textbook case of genocide” of Palestinians living in Gaza. Thanks to significant pressure from organizers and people across Canada, our federal government has voted to halt direct arms sales to Israel—although the motion is non-binding.  

Unfortunately, our region, part of the Haldimand tract, is woven into the war machine led by the United States. In this article, let’s look at how local firms and institutions integrate into this war machine and fuel the genocide in Gaza.  

The war machine: US-led imperialism and the military-industrial complex  

The US is a modern-day imperialist nation, with partners across the “global north” (US, Canada, EU, Israel, South Korea, Japan) often sharing in the spoils. Massive corporations and financial institutions in these countries have become heavily interwoven, forming a single, (albeit often fractious, dominant capitalist imperialist force in the world. Wealth from the “Global South”  is siphoned off through profits of massive multinational corporations, interest on predatory loans forced onto impoverished countries, and unequal trade. This amounts to a massive net flow of physical goods and labour time to the global north.  

The US and allies assert control over the world economy via US dollars, through monetary institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, massive multinational US-based corporations, interference in democratic elections, and military interventions by the US military and mercenaries. Canada plays a junior partner role through sending “peacekeeping” personnel and military equipment to assist US-led operations, profit extraction by Canada-based multinational firms— such as over half the world’s publicly listed mining companies are headquartered in Canada —as well as military production and research. Canada’s largest destination of military exports is the Saudi regime, for its horrific proxy war against the Yemeni people.  

Locally operating businesses fuelling the war machine  

According to World Beyond War, there are ten known firms operating locally which produce technology, parts, or weapons used in military exports to Israel. Waterloo is home to Senstar and Raytheon Canada; Kitchener hosts Excelitas Canada/PCO Photonics, Google Waterloo, Heroux Devtek, Magellan Aerospace, and Colt Canada; and Cambridge has Heroux Devtek Manufacturing, Honeywell Aerospace, and PCC Aerostructures/Centra Industries.  

Let’s start with an illustrative Canadian-owned example. Magellan Aerospace’s Kitchener plant produces complex machined Titanian components for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 aircraft, which are being used to bomb civilians in Gaza daily. Magellan Aerospace is 75 per cent owned by Norman Edwards, a Canadian oil sands billionaire and financier.  

A foreign-owned example is Senstar, which produces video surveillance software used in Israel’s apartheid walls. It is a subsidiary of Magal Security Systems, owned by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd – an Israeli state-owned enterprise. A final example: Colt Canada is a subsidiary of Colt CZ Group, a holding company 75 per cent owned by Česká Zbrojovka Partners SE in the Czech Republic. A key player in the formerly American-owned Colt’s 2021 sale was Czech billionaire, René Holeček, who “made” his fortune by privatizing Czechia’s state-owned metalworks and keeping a massive portion of it for himself.  

Universities: research and labour for the war machine  

Also key to the military-industrial complex is training, research and development. In particular, the University of Waterloo (UW) is a big player in research and development, and they don’t hesitate to send co-op students to work with military contractors.  

These include companies known to be directly supporting Israel’s genocide of Gaza.  

Many companies that co-op students have recently worked at are known military contractors producing F-35 or other military aircraft parts and aerial weapons systems used by Israel. The onus lies with the schools and not the students themselves.  

They include some of the largest military companies in the world, like Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon/RTX, as well as smaller subsidiaries and suppliers, like Cyclone Manufacturing, Heroux-Devtek, L3 Harris, Magellan Aerospace and Pratt and Wittney. And those are just the aerospace-related firms. There are at least several others, such as Colt Canada, producing other military equipment. 

Tech: innovative big data and AI systems for the war machine  

We cannot forget big tech. A few companies partnered with UW via co-op and research partnerships, which that are known to support the Israeli military include: Amazon, Cisco, Google, and HP. For example, Amazon and Google built the billion-dollar cloud tech “Project Nimbus”, featuring advanced AI tools for systemic surveillance of Palestinians. There is a dire need for transparency from these companies’ local operations, which may be aiding violations of international law, e.g. crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians.  

Canada’s big five banks bankroll the war machine  

Finally, a note about Canadian finance operating here in Waterloo Region: all of the big five banks in Canada (BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC, RBC, and TD) benefit from Israel’s genocidal war and apartheid. These banks invest in both weapons companies and institutions essential to the apartheid system. Even Manulife appears to have investments in illegal Israeli settlements.  

What should you do with this information?  

That must be left up to you. Dig into the information on World Beyond War and In the short term, we must organize collectively to end our region’s complicity in genocide and ongoing war crimes. Companies operating in Waterloo Region and Canada must comply with international law. In the long term, we need to create a sustainable humane economic system (such as some form of eco-socialism)