Letter: Liberals move away from ‘Canada’s traditional peacekeeping role’

Parties in the election reaffirmed their approval of NATO, the nuclear weapon-wielding military alliance now [nearing] Russia's borders.

Open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and MP Stephen Fuhr:

With the announcement the day after the election of your decision to withdraw Canadian war planes from bombing runs in Iraq and Syria hopes were raised for a re-evaluation of Canada’s military priorities. There was talk in some quarters of a “return to Canada’s traditional peacekeeping role” in world affairs.

Now we know the planes have not been withdrawn, are still flying and have reportedly even increased their bombing runs. In addition, the Liberal government has said it will go ahead with a $15 billion arms deal with the Saudi government. More troubling, all the major parties in the election reaffirmed their approval of NATO, the nuclear weapon-wielding military alliance now expanding to the very borders of Russia, and voiced a commitment to increasing Canada’s $20 billion plus annual military budget.

These things do not fit well with the dearly-held idea of “Canadian peacekeeping.”

Canada boasts of strict rules to restrict arms exports to regimes that violate their citizens’ human rights. If the ruthless anti-democratic Saudi regime is not an extreme violator of human rights who is? We can’t help but wonder if any arms deals have ever been canceled due to Ottawa’s guidelines or if this is just more humanitarian peacekeeping rhetoric. The thought of Canada pouring more arms into that war-ravaged region is not comforting.

The larger tragedy is that the private profits flowing to the arms producing giants like General Dynamics may preclude the last hope of human survival. While these corporations amass millions in profits (some of which are used to distort democracy with huge contributions to political campaigns), they generate environmental havoc, create enemies and desperate refugees. They prevent the world’s economic, social and environmental problems from being conquered.

So what do we want? For starters: Stop the bombing runs, bring the fighter-bombers home; keep them on the ground and don’t buy any more of them; Cancel the Saudi arms deal, it is illegal from the standpoint of international law and our own legislation; Exit NATO, its aggressive expansion threatens world peace and its nuclear armed stance contravenes the Non-Proliferation Treaty; Slash the military budget, those dollars and the capabilities of our workers should be used to create a fossil fuel-free future not preparing for more wars.

When you add the “lost opportunity cost“ (foregoing potential gain from other choices like clean energy development) to military spending, you get a clearer idea of the real cost of militarism. And that’s just the economic equation.

The people who desire peace and a future for the planet must use every means necessary to prevent this (last? best?) opportunity from being lost and becoming the epitaph of our species.

Mark Haley,

member, Kelowna Peace Group