Zeinab Merai, Nabatiyyeh
Second most expensive procurement in Canadian history
“The government’s plan to buy 88 warplanes is the second most expensive procurement in Canadian history; yet there’s been remarkably little public and government discussion of that,” says Tamara Lorincz, a PhD candidate in the Balsillie School of International Affairs at Wilfrid Laurier University.
“Illegal Bombing & massive human and refugee crisis”
Addressing 220 participants in the October 15th 2-hour-long event via Zoom, including Sada al-Mashrek and politicians as Dimitri Lascaris, peace activists as David Heap and Vanessa Lanteigne, journalists, and concerned citizens, Tamara continues, “Let’s consider how Canada has used our fighter jets since the end of the cold war over the past two decades.
In 1999, the Canadian fighter jets with NATO illegally bombed Serbia, killed civilians, and destroyed civilian infrastructure. In 2011, Canadian fighter jets led the NATO bombing of Libya, leading to a massive human and refugee crisis across North Africa. Libya is still in chaos.
From 2014 to 2016, Canadian fighter jets with the US bombed Syria and Iraq. Tens of thousands of bombs were dropped on those two countries, killing civilians, destroying infrastructure, and leading to mass migration.”
Dangerous NATO operation in Romania
“Right now, Canadian fighter jets are involved in a dangerous NATO operation in Romania, provoking Russia. Our fighter jets shouldn’t be flying anywhere near Russia’s borders,” adds Tamara, one of the speakers alongside NDP MP Randall Garrison, Green Party MP Paul Manly, Senator Marilou McPhedran, as well as poet and activist and King's College professor El Jones.
Exorbitant carbon emissions & toxic fuels
“Fighter jets are also fuelling the climate crisis. The military is by far the largest source of carbon emissions in the federal government. In Canada, military emissions are exempt from the greenhouse gas reduction target, and there are no plans to offset these military missions.
Among all branches of the military, it’s the airforce that uses air fuel the most. Fighter jets use an exorbitant amount of specialised toxic fuel called JP-8, which allows them to fly faster and at higher altitudes than commercial aircraft,” states Tamara in the webinar hosted by World BEYOND War and Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, co-sponsored by Peace Quest, and medially sponsored by Canadian Dimension.
Action on July 24th and Oct 2nd
“…This summer, peace groups and concerned citizens across the country came together to stop the federal government from buying these new fighter jets. On July 24th we had a day of action before Parliament and delivered letters to our MPs.
On Oct 2nd, the International Day of Non-Violence, we had our 2nd day of action,” recaps Tamara as to action of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, whose membership she enjoys.
“Military spending will enrich American or Swedish weapon manufacturers, not Canadians”
“Two Liberal MPs, Catherine McKenna and Bardish Chagger, replied to our letters and said the fighter jets would be good for jobs for Canada. However, these fighter jets can’t be built in this country.
Defence economist Erika Hancock at the Royal Military College confirms that buying new fighter jets will primarily enrich American or Swedish weapons manufacturers.
Moreover, research in the US at the University of Massachusetts and at Brown University shows that military spending is not good for job creation. $1 billion spent on the military creates far fewer jobs than $1 billion invested in healthcare, education, or the environment.”
“No alignment with Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy”
“Fighter jets don’t align with Canada’s feminist foreign policy. The aerospace and defence sector in this country is a male-dominated industry, and the military is a male-dominated institution. What women and working mothers need in this country is affordable housing and a national early childhood learning strategy, something that women have been demanding for 50 years, but we still don’t have.”
“Fighter jets are to give Canada combat capability. This means bombing, destroying, and killing. They are for a death economy,” says Tamara, who urges Canadian manufacturers to move to “peaceful civilian industries.”
“Theft from our First Nations and the poor and youth”
“If Canada buys them, it will be a theft from our First Nations communities, the poor, and our youth,” believes Tamara, who mentions that this spring, some indigenous communities wrote “a letter to the federal government, asking for Cuban doctors and nurses to come to Canada to help them with pandemic because their communities have inadequate health care.”
Tamara clarifies that “last year, the UN special rapporteur for indigenous peoples described the housing conditions of the First Nations as abhorrent,” reminding the audience of the large numbers of homeless and hungry Canadians, and pointing out that “the cost of just one fighter jet is the budget of all food banks across the country combined.”
“Russia and China are not our enemies”
“This pandemic has made us all pause and reflect on what is important and provides real security. The pandemic has also shown that peaceful collaboration with other countries is essential. Russia and China are not our enemies; we need to work cooperatively with them to deal with the pandemic and the climate emergency.”
“Let’s rethink our relation with the US, the most aggressive country on the planet”
“We need to have the courage to challenge our membership in NATO and to rethink our relation with the US, the most aggressive country on the planet that doesn’t even provide healthcare to its own people.”
Appeal to politicians & the concerned
Tamara eventually made a “direct appeal to the NDP to stop their support for the fighter jets, to the Green Party to make a public statement against these carbon-intensive combat aircraft, and to the senate to demand a gender-based analysis and an environmental assessment…” The activist as well called on everyone learning about this to join the campaign.
To check out the other discussions made during the webinar, please do follow the reports in Sada al-Mashrek’s coming publications. You can also watch the webinar:
Challenging Canada's War Plane Purchase