Former journalist Todd Pruner, the author of this guest post (Photo: Todd Pruner).

Since Oct. 7, 2023, the news from Gaza, and from the Occupied West Bank, has grown more horrific by the day. Canadians are clearly bitterly divided over the conflict – its causes and how best to bring to an end the slaughter of civilians that has resulted. The impact of this division has recently been felt on the campuses of the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. Former journalist Todd Pruner describes how, while this goes on, Canada’s Department of National Defence is planning to host a testing session next week for military suppliers, including a couple that sell weapons made by Israeli companies and likely used “to engage in ground targets” in Gaza, right here in Alberta. Mr. Pruner, a graduate of the University of Alberta who now works in the disability sector, believes that Alberta should not be used as a proving ground for weapons that are used to kill children. DJC

Alberta should not be a proving ground for weapons used to kill children

By Todd Pruner

Israeli weapons manufacturers will soon be using Alberta as a testing ground to market their latest weapons of war.

From May 27 to June 21, Canada’s Department of National Defence will host a testing session for military suppliers in Suffield, Alberta. They’ve given this testing session the innocuous title of “Counter Uncrewed Aerial Systems Sandbox 2024.” 

But as described on the event’s web page, it is anything but anodyne. It’s a platform to test drive equipment to “detect,” “defeat,” or “detect and defeat” drones or other deadly unmanned weapons.

Come play in our sandbox with our weapons, seems to be the message. See which ones best suit your needs. Try a couple samples.

I have yet to hear a single politician at any level speak out about this, nor have I seen this reported in any Alberta-based media. The only place I’ve seen this “sandbox” mentioned was in The Maple.

Two of the 15 companies attending are selling Israel weapons: Sentrycs and Twenty20 Insight Inc., which plans to showcase its latest and greatest “defeat-only” Smash Hopper system. The event’s webpage describes it as a tool that “provides operators the remote capability to engage ground targets and small uncrewed aircraft systems.” 

Considering what is currently happening in Gaza, “ground targets” can certainly be understood to mean Palestinian men, women and children. 

This isn’t simply conjecture. It is thoroughly documented that Israel sells weapons that it has “battle tested.” By facilitating this “sandbox”, Canada’s DND is directly involving itself in the sale of weapons that likely have been – and will be – used to kill Palestinian civilians, including children.

It should go without saying that Alberta should never facilitate the sale of weapons for an ongoing genocide. Abstaining from this should be the least we can do in Canada, so as not to contribute to violence against Palestinian civilians. 

This month, Israel began its assault on Rafah, at the southern tip of Gaza, where they have been telling Palestinians it would be safe. The United Nations stated Monday that more than 800,000 people have been displaced from Rafah in the past two weeks, forcing Palestinians to head back north.

To sum up the past seven months of Israeli military activity in Gaza is outside the scope of this piece, but it should be kept in mind that the International Court of Justice did find a plausible case of genocide in Gaza by Israel on Jan. 26. Additionally, the International Criminal Court is seeking arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Calls for divesting from Israel, as well as a two-way arms embargo, are increasing in Canada’s streets during weekly protests and on university campuses nationwide. Alberta and the rest of Canada should be doing everything we can to become less involved in the ongoing genocide in Palestine, not to continue it.

According to Time, more than 30,000 Palestinian people have been killed in Gaza as of March 15, and more than 70,000 have been injured. Since then, this death toll has risen more slowly, but not because the violence has stopped. Rather, medical (and basically all other) infrastructure has been destroyed by the Israeli armed forces. Therefore, the number of killed and injured in Gaza is very likely much higher than these numbers. 

Arguing that both the Netanyahu Regime and Hamas both have reasons to low-ball the number of casualties, former third-party U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader estimated that the true number of Palestinians who have perished as of early March was closer to 200,000.

Additionally, the proportion of children living in Gaza is high, with the median age being just 18, and 40 per cent of the population being 14 years old or younger. As of March 14, 12,300 children had been killed by Israel, according to the UN.

Any Canadian contribution to this should stop immediately. Alberta should not be a proving ground for weapons that will be used to kill children.

Join the Conversation


  1. This is sickening. Canada is implicit in war crimes against children. Shame on our federal government for allowing this.

    Shame on our universities, too. I applaud the students and others who protested against this kind of investment by Alberta’s biggest universities. We saw the swift and harsh reaction from those institutions. Big money is involved in weapons, surveillance and tech that aids and abets genocide. What else can explain the violent overreaction by the U. of A. and U. of C.? Universities won’t disclose and divest because the military industrial complex offers returns that our universities can’t resist. Apparently, there is no dichotomy between killing children on one side of the ocean and educating them on the other. How do they justify this? How does the U. of A. justify returning Nazi money but investing in companies that abet the murder of children in Palestine? Is genocide fine in some cases but not others? They need to come clean. This is not honorable behavior by civilized institutions in a democracy.

    1. It has been quite evident for most of a century that genocide is just fine in some cases but not in others. The Canadian state was an enthusiastic participant in the assault on North Korea that killed 20% of the population between 1950 and 1953. The state likewise enthusiastically aided and abetted the US assault on Vietnam which cost the lives of 3 million people, and left the countryside poisoned and its neighbours inundated with unexploded bombs. The Canadian state continues to back genocidal dictator Paul Kagame in Rwanda. We live in a plutocracy, as we are ruled by plutocrats, not a democracy.

  2. So this is the kind of industry that Danielle Smith wants to attract to Alberta! Baby killers and coal companies! Could she be any more a monster than this? Hard to outdo herself on this.

  3. It is rather embarrassing that Canada seems to be complicit in genocide.

    It was not good that Canada abstained in the UN General Assembly vote on giving Palestine full membership in the UN. Still, given what seems like a totally delusional US foreign policy clique in Washington, the Canadian Gov’t may have wanted to avoid a US occupation or at least, a couple of hundred sanctions.

  4. Just as a note to anyone who is as appalled by this as I am, remember between elections, we can EASILY let our politicians know how we feel about this sort of thing. A simple search, ‘contact Bill Blair’, ‘contact Matt Jones’ or whomever, can put you at their email address in a matter of seconds.

    I once read that receipt of one letter on any issue is taken as ‘evidence’ that there are 1000 similar opinions. Not sure if the same thinking holds true with emails today, but maybe if enough people take the time to do it… least you will know that you spoke up!

    1. I think one can safely assume that Bill Blair already knows who might speak up in Canada.

  5. I recall the furor over Canada being used as a testing ground for early versions of the cruise missile in the 1980s. And there was also the mini furor when the US Navy decided to just have exercises in the Arctic without Canadian involvement or permission. In other words, any testing being done of Israeli weapons systems in Canada is being done so with the blessing of the US State and Defence Departments, on behalf of IMI. (Israeli Military Industries) So, it’s likely any protests concerning the testing of these weapons are for naught. What the US demands, Canada jumps. End of story.

      1. And let’s not forget the any number of ‘dark’ operations that were carried out in Canada with the blessing of US intelligence agencies.

        A few years ago, I got into a fair bit of trouble with some Canadian nationalists. During a social, some of my RPC cronies got into it over the value of Canadian independence. I declared, with a puffed up chest, that Canada was not more than a US client state, operating only with the blessing of the US State Dept and which presidential administration was in office, regardless of party. One might be surprised how many Canadian nationalists were in the RPC, and I certainly got their rage on. And of course I was called ‘Yankee’ and ‘pro-American’ which to me was hilarious, because I couldn’t imagine a more pro-American bunch than those guys. And, of course, the War of 1812 came up, to which I said that if that war lasted another six months, Canada would be effectively conquered by the US. Taunting that bunch was surely the height of entertainment for me that evening. While they drowned themselves with shot of ‘Prairie Fire’ I departed, never to be heard from again.

      2. Those glow in the dark submarines were part of our wknd “cruise ” for coffee in Nanaimo…..and portrayed as just another ogo-pogo sighting.

        Given Big Papa’s friendship with BB, and their mutual ‘technology’ interests , I’m not surprised at all about picking Alberta, especially given all the other industrial complexes that have gone up, that no one seems to pay attention to. Just out of curiosity, is the testing anywhere near that new police training facility?

        M.Cooper entering the house of Commons today was asked….
        Q. Would you support a two state solution?

        I really wish that some reporter with a little bit of chutzpah, would ask the Conservatives that are so gung-ho on the pro-life/ anti abortion campaign….Why are you okay with bombing the babies and kids once they are born? Or is it just certain children that you are concerned about?
        Hypocrisy Much ?
        And just to be clear, for myself and alot of other people out there; I am not anti-semitic, I am not pro-hamas, I am ABSOLUTELY against power hungry men who use women & children as cannon fodder for their own personal glory.

        Which reminds me of one of PP’s quotes…..” I could never attain the glory of playing in the NHL, that’s why I became a politician. ”
        ( filed under reasons not to vote for)

        1. Randi-lee: I have seen with my own eyes from the deck of a B.C. ferry a U.S. hunter-killer submarine steaming (or perhaps nuking, although nukes make steam to run the turbines) along on the surface through the Georgia Strait on its way, presumably, to Nanoose Bay. There were two sailors and an officer on the sail and, when I waved at them, they waved back, so that close. DJC

          1. DJC— lol, the best kept US secret that everyone on the island talked about. Innocent youth, those days are long gone…..

            And “monetary prizes”?
            I don’t think I even want to know.

      3. Slight correction….the quote was….
        “My dreams of NHL glory were never fulfilled, so I had to settle for politics instead.”

      4. oh, yes, the did test there. Lovely spot. Then Premier Glen Clark took exception to that and that their might be subs with nuclear weapons on them. The Americans wanted to extend a lease and continue to test, Clark said No if they had nuclear weapons and then the federal government expropriated the bay and leased it to the americans

  6. Great piece. For those interested in learning more about this subject should check out Anthony Lowenstein’s “The Palestinian Laboratory” and the work in +972 Magazine.

  7. Pretty disturbing, however not surprising for peace-loving Canada, Alberta, Canadians, and Albertans. Unfortunately not surprising that the genocide of people who don’t qualify as pale will be condoned and profited from in once trustworthy Canada. Not saying it’s everyone, you and Todd made this known to others, but enough for it to get the green light. Shameful.

    1. Canada remains as trustworthy as it ever was. The Canadian state and its armed forces have proven stalwart vassals in the subjugation of folks across the globe by Anglo-American imperialist adventurers. That includes, but is not limited to, aiding in the overthrow and murder of Patrice Lumumba, and the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah. These two events constitute the most significant assaults on the leadership of African independence in the post-colonial period. The Canadian state performed yeoman service in the effort to subjugate the darker races in 2004 with the overthrow of the sovereign government of Haiti.
      I would urge anybody interested in factual analysis of Canada’s role in geopolitical affairs to abandon propaganda-derived sentiment such as that expressed in your post, and read the works of Yves Engler.

      1. Great comment Murphy. I fully agree with you.
        We have this bad habit to think that somehow we do no harm around the world. We love to say that we can travel with our flag on our backs but that is because the US takes all the blame.
        So they should because the US and Russia have destroyed the lives of billions of people around the planet. One day things will turn around and I will not be sorry for any of them,

  8. Sadly, a big portion of the population in Gaza have witnessed stuff that no one , in my view should ever see. Big time trauma.

  9. The Israelis do have a point and have been pressing it home. During WW2 the allies firebombed German cities killing hundreds and thousands of civilians so why shouldn’t Israel be allowed to pulverize Gaza. Crazy man Lindsay Graham was arguing Israel should be allowed to use nukes on Gaza because the U.S. had used them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end WW2.

    Generally we view the events in Gaza and elsewhere through the lens of our self-proclaimed sense of supremacy and we think we know what’s best for the world. The “rules-based international order,” as we’re fond of saying (our rules, our orders). We can’t grasp the possibility that we live under an evil system, or that we have become evil people.

    1. ronmac your second paragraph is exactly our biggest disease. If we have not become evil people we need a serious mental health evaluation.
      Watching other people being bombed seems to have become entertainment. We do not seem to understand that suffering and the destruction of millions of lives is reality. Is not surprising that populista round the world are taking it one step futher and convince us there are no facts anymore and what we see and witness is just conspiracy theories.
      We are about to get a prime minister that casually has coffee with fascists and thinks that is none of our business and even declares that we are lying and at the same time promote hate against our current prime minister. This under the excuse that he talks to everyone except of course his own colleagues in parliament.
      We are all in serious need of serious reality check

      1. Carlos— I concur, and I would recommend that you read the latest in ..the Maple
        (May 23) Alex Cosh & Jeremy Appel ….though a word of warning, I’m still trying to digest it, even though I knew alot of the information.
        IMHO ,I would have to say it’s a must read.
        I’m sorry, I’m not computer savvy enough to provide the link.

    2. They’re hypocrits. They like to hold Israel to a higher standard they don’t hold themselves to. There really isn’t much difference between Gaza and some European countries after WW II, just check the documentaries. Lets not forget what London and Rotterdam looked like when the Germans were bombing.

      As to using Alberta to test Israeli weapons, Not too upset about that, like I don’t care. I do care about the food insecurity in Canada and the growing hunger amongst children but those who care about weapons testing in /alberta don’t appear to be to interested in Canadian children going hungry, not living in decent housing, children with medical issues not getting the care they need, seniors being homeless due to high rents.
      If they don’t test here it will be some where else or not. If not and Israel doesn’t have new improved weapons and they are attacked what do we say then? There will always be a large number of people who want Israel and Jews to be gone from this earth, have a read of history. So if Israel needs to test weapons and other countries aren’t open to it, well I’m fine with them doing it in Canada.
      Children being killed in Gaza needs to stop, but stopping weapon testing in /Alberta isn’t going to help that.
      Its not like Hamas cares for the children of Gaza or they won’t have invaded Israel. They knew what would happen. Israel is ensuring it doesn’t happen again for a few decades. Its war and its never pleasant. She with the most weapons, usually wins.

  10. The event website lists the RCMP as an end user which is concerning. Under what circumstances would the RCMP be deploying these weapons?
    Please let the federal government know what you think and copy to your local MP. Try to get some accountability from those who claim to represent us.

  11. Canada has tested missiles in Alberta when Pierre Trudeau was prime minister – they called it the cruise missile.
    We have been contributing to war for so long, it surprises me a drone makes news.
    Millions of people have died on this planet under the war industry and no country at all can throw the first stone. It is sick. Human beings, whether we like it or not and although religious people want to believe we were specially created by some God, are awful predators to be made by any good force.
    It is disgusting. Canada unfortunately is not an exception and will not miss making some extra bucks by killing a few thousand people especially in the Middle East where the West thinks they just do not have the same value.

  12. Bring in a real citizems council to oversee this monkey business called political democracy. Democracy does not exist in Canada. We have a free voting system controlled by the power of elites and big businesses.
    By the way this is not conspiracy theory and you can confirm it just by reading and paying attention as to how we are played like puppets and easy slogans.

  13. Interesting conversation. To be fair, Suffield and Nanoose as well as all the other bases are considered federal jurisdiction. Provinces have no say in that. Also, Canada has been sending police and military to train with IDF in suppressing “insurgency”, as in civil protests for quite some time. Additionally, Canada was founded on genocide, yet none of you acknowledge that. Our history is still whitewashed in Alberta?

  14. Carlos, sorry, my bad…
    “Pierre Polievre’s incoming war on support for Palestine”…..A Polievre led government would be largely a reintroduction of the foreign policy of Stephen Harper.

  15. Federal Liberals pander to more than one genocidal impulse in the predatory USA led chaos.

  16. This story differs from many only in the details. It occurs world-wide where one country is toady to another, where politicians have no spine, where Big Bucks are more important than voting citizens, and “democracy” is only a term to rally the party from the spectrum of authoritarian to laisse-faire, each with their own definitions.

    Ethics? Morality? Decency? Rule of Law? – “Sorry”, they say, “Can’t hear you!”

  17. Recall one person asking me what the biggest business in the world was.
    Answer: No, araments.
    Yes, they were right. Armaments are such a big business, one could say it makes the world go round. There is just too much money to be made and no one is going to give it up.

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