The federal government says a $2.5-million ACOA grant towards this weekend’s security forum in Halifax is a good investment. But some peace activists beg to disagree.

 

Former U.S. presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates are among the speakers attending the “inaugural” Halifax International Security Forum at the Westin Hotel from Friday through Sunday.

 

Outside, protestors will be staging demonstrations. They call the forum a “war conference” with the goal of increasing Canada’s military scope.

 

They also question why $2.5 million from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is going towards hosting foreign military officials.

“Two and a half million dollars is significant. It’s two and a half times the budget of the adult literacy program in Nova Scotia,” said Tony Seed of the Halifax Peace Coalition.

ACOA spokesman David Harrigan said it’s a good investment to bring people like McCain to the province to attract international attention

“In order to grow the economy in Nova Scotia, investing in something like this makes sense," Harrigan said. "What we do is we focus international attention on Nova Scotia and the Atlantic region. Hopefully investment will follow."

The forum features discussions on issues such as the future of Afghanistan, piracy, Arctic security and nuclear proliferation.