Letter to the Editor
On June 7th Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, announced what he referred to as a “new” defence policy indicating that the Liberal government has bought into a more aggressive role for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and making the Canadian military more suited to “war fighting” in overseas theaters. Mr. Sajjan declared Canada will increase war spending over 70% during the next 10 years to the tune of 32.7 billion; he also pledged to increase the number of fighter jets to 88 from 65; and to increase the number of personnel in both the regular and reserve armed forces. Still on the table is the issue of Canada officially joining the U.S. “Ballistic Missile” system.
As Murray Dobbin (June 9th) and Peggy Mason (June 7th) point out nothing has changed internationally since the election of the Trudeau government to justify such an increase in Canada’s war-making effort.
“Last year Canada already spent 28 billion on the Department of National Defence which had made it the 7th highest military spender among NATO members and the 17th highest military spender in the world. However, the federal government spent only 1.5 billion for the Department of Environment and Climate Change (ECCC). Over the past two decades, military spending has dramatically increased but funding for environmental protection and climate action has flat-lined.” (Voice of Women for Peace, May 10, 2017).
The stage for Mr. Sajjan on June 7th was set by the Minister of International Affairs on June 6th. Chrystia Freeland, who should be acting as our top Canadian diplomat, heaped praise on past US aggressions around the globe and reinforced her pro-US military statements with the Russia bogeyman card (reminiscent of Cold War days) and the North Korean card. Ms. Freeland must be aware of how many military bases the U.S. has in the world compared to the number of bases the Russians have. She must know that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (Jan 26/17) moved the hands on the Doomsday Clock to two and a half minutes to midnight to reflect the danger in the world since the U.S. election. The dream, no nightmare, of fighting and winning a conventional world war or nuclear war is sheer lunacy – Canada should be exerting its best diplomatic efforts to develop peaceful relations with all countries including Russia, China, Syria, and North Korea. As Murray Dobbin has written: ‘U.S. “leadership” is known by another name in scores of countries around the globe: U.S. imperialism . . . Does Freeland believe that the illegal war on Iraq is an example of U.S. leadership? Would she, unlike Jean Chrétien, have joined in? What about the slaughter in Yemen? Going back a bit further, would Freeland see the literally dozens of U.S. interventions to overthrow democratic governments and install dictators as the epitome of U.S. leadership?’ (June 9th, 2017).
Canada needs new, made in Canada policies aimed at the achievement of peace and disarmament in the world. Negotiations are going on at the United Nations to ban nuclear weapons; Canada should be part of these deliberations. In the short term Canada should withdraw from the conflict in Iraq and Syria, stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia; and make diplomacy a top priority. In the long term Canadians must find the steps to break with the U.S. Empire and the war-making alliances that it leads. Both NATO and NORAD are not contributing to peace and security around the world.
If we must look outside of our borders for leadership we would be wiser to look to Britain than the U.S. – increasing numbers of people in the United Kingdom, especially young people there are embracing a positive, peaceful vision of their country; they also realize if their country is not bombing people in the Middle East they will not be confronted with “blowback”.
– Ed Lehman, President, Regina Peace Council, and David Gehl, Vice-President, Regina Peace Council