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Canada does not need billions of dollars worth of new war machines.

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We, the undersigned, urge the new Trudeau government to cancel Stephen Harper's plans to purchase over $50-billion worth of warships and warplanes and instead invest the money to improve the lives of Canadians.

EDITORIAL in the Ottawa Citizen:

The international media responded very positively when the newly triumphant Justin Trudeau announced, “We are back!”

Most Canadians see this as an acknowledgement that their country will once again promote peaceful and diplomatic solutions, as well as help end poverty and finally work to tackle climate change.

Just as most Canadians are proud of our military history and our contributions during the last century’s world wars, they are also proud that Canada made the right decisions to avoid participation in two unjust wars, Vietnam and Iraq.

The seemingly never-ending chaos in the Middle East is a direct result of the Iraq War, which began under false pretenses and resulted in hundreds of thousands of lives lost and more than a trillion dollars wasted. The current campaign to eradicate the Islamic State has no end in sight and primarily benefits the weapons manufacturers that provide arms to all sides.

Now that peaceful Canada is back, citizens deserve a peace dividend.

Under the previous Conservative government that used fear to justify the need for bombing campaigns, plans were developed to spend billions of dollars more on new fighter jets and warships to supposedly make Canadians safer. Yet most citizens know that expensive military hardware does not in fact make us safer, but instead only helps to further enrich the corporations that profit from continuous war.

With Canada poised once again promote international diplomacy, it should revisit the pledge by the Conservative government to spend billions on military hardware. The projected costs to upgrade Canada’s navy have ballooned from $26-billion to $42-billion. And even though the Liberals have promised to cancel plans to purchase the extraordinarily expensive F-35 fighters, they are still considering purchasing new jets.

Imagine how much better off Canada would be if instead of spending billions of dollars on expensive war machines, it used the money to improve the lives of its citizens. For too long we have been told that taxes must remain low and thus services must be cut.

Canada can do much better. Instead of trying to keep up with those who say they are are trying to bring democracy to the Middle East with bombs and missiles, it could instead do a better job of looking after its own citizens.

Redirecting proposed funds for military hardware could allow for building new bridges, low-income housing and more public transit. There could be money to allow students to graduate without enormous debts, to provide clean water for First Nations, to support scientific research and monitoring, to create new parks, to better manage fish stocks, to improve health care, and to support the transition to a carbon-free energy supply.

In addition to redirecting funding from expensive war machines to improving society, Canada should look at changing the role of the military. We face an increasingly unstable world due to the impacts of climate change, with more frequent and violent storms. Soldiers will need more training to provide emergency response as we experience more wildfires, more floods and more damaging weather events. Fortunately, redirecting the use of the military to respond to environmental disasters was part of the Liberals’ platform.

With the Canada we always knew existed now back, citizens need to push the federal government to put its financial focus on efforts to improve our society, rather than acquire jets and warships to participate in distant military conflicts.

The international anti-war movement withered when it was unable to stop the Iraq War. It needs to find its voice again and bring some sanity to the clamour for retribution.

Canadians can help by encouraging the new Liberal government to replace bombs with diplomacy, bullets with books, jets with better social programs and warships with programs to address the dangers of climate change.


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