[Op-Ed] Say no to new fighter jets

The following Op-Ed by Mark Hagar in the Hamilton Spectator was published just before our Nov. 22 rally for “No Fighter Jets!”

Say no to new fighter jets

During the recent election campaign, there was little discussion about spending on military aggression. Surprise. The federal government is on the cusp of spending approximately $100 billion for new fighter jets and warships. Over the life of these killing machines the combined capital and operating costs will be approximately $350 billion. This will be Canada’s largest military purchase, ever. It far exceeds spending on the climate, health care, Indigenous rights, affordable housing and any of the social justice issues that got more air time in the campaign.

The jets proposed are the CF-35 jets from U.S. company Lockheed Martin. They are not defensive weapons. The CF-35s will have a purchase price of $19 billion with an estimated project life cost of $77 billion. The warships proposed have a purchase price of $80 billion with a lifetime cost of $285 billion. They are not for peacekeeping or even defending Canada.

Not only will these machines displace more productive spending on climate justice, they also cause climate destruction and since they are military, their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are not counted in Canada’s GHG tallies. The U.S. demanded these exemptions at the Kyoto summit and Canada did not object. The F-35 is reported to burn 5,600 litres of fuel an hour, with a service lifetime of 8,000 hours. For the 88 jets Canada plans to buy, that is 4 trillion litres of burned, and unaccounted for, fuel.

This double injustice is not lost on the young Toronto film maker Kasha Sequoia Slavner in her upcoming film entitled “1.5 Degrees of Peace.” The title is brilliant, concise and thought-provoking. (The trailer for it is on the website https://www.1point5degreesofpeace.com/ and it is well worth viewing.)

Canada has a track record of destructive bombing in Libya, Syria and Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction, at least not from Iraq. We continue to sell armoured vehicles to the Saudis, knowing full well they are used against Yemen contributing to what the UN calls the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. The argument that the armoured vehicles provide jobs is repulsive. The CF-35 manufacturer in one of its advertisements tries to promote the same perverse benefit, only to be called out in a satirical graphic on the NoFighterJets.ca website.

If jobs are the objective, there are far better choices for our government funds. The Green Economy Network in Canada, comprised of labour, environmental and social justice organizations, estimates that a public spend of $80 billion, would create over 1,000,000 jobs with an annual reduction of 90 to 250 million tonnes of GHG. The four areas of investment promoted by the Network are clean renewable energy, energy efficient buildings, public transit and higher speed rail.

Back to the financial cost. If Trump was refreshing in any way, it was his blunt and clear choice of words. He avoided flowery double speak. He made it clear that his demand of Canada to increase NATO spending was exactly what it is, extortion. It is no different than a schoolyard bully demanding lunch money from a starving child so they can stay in the cool (NATO) group. These weapons of war are not to defend Canada’s sovereign territory; they are for NATO military interventions abroad.

Please join our picket of the office of MP Filomina Tassi, the new Federal Minister of Procurement, at her west Hamilton office, 1686 Main West, for one hour on Nov. 22 at 11 a.m. It will be a peaceful, COVID-safe and information picket. It’s one of many national events the week of Nov. 22 co-ordinated by the No Fighter Jets Coalition, a coalition of peace, environmental and social justice groups. Please join us requesting that Filomena Tassi’s government not purchase these weapons.

Mark Hagar is a member of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War and the Canadian No Fighter Jets Coalition







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