The Chronicle Herald (Metro)
Canada needs water bombers, not fighter jets
Over 100 notable Canadians have released an open letter calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cancel the fighter jet procurement.
Acclaimed musician Neil Young, environmentalist David Suzuki, journalist Naomi Klein, author Michael Ondaatje, singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer and Member of Parliament Elizabeth May are among those on the list of signatories.
Artists, academics, activists and medical professionals across the country along with politicians from all levels of government are urging the federal government to not proceed with the purchase of a new fleet of combat aircraft.
The letter is an initiative of the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, and Science for Peace.
Two years ago, the Liberal government launched a multi-billion-dollar competition for 88 new fighter jets.
The government is now evaluating three bids: Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter, Boeing’s Super Hornet, and SAAB’S Gripen. Early next year, the government expects to choose the successful bid and award the contract.
The fighter jet purchase is the second most expensive federal procurement in Canadian history. Though the purchase price is $19 billion, the life-cycle cost for the combat aircraft has been estimated as high as $77 billion.
Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan claim that new fighter jets are needed to protect the sovereignty of the country and the security of Canadians.
However, former deputy minister of National Defence
Charles Nixon argued that the country does not need new fighter jets as there was no credible threat to Canada’s sovereignty. All international conflict can be responsibly dealt with through diplomacy and international law.
Opponents of the fighter jet procurement also argue that federal funding would be better invested in programs that provide genuine security for Canadians like health care, affordable housing, reconciliation with Indigenous communities and climate action.
This month, across Western Canada, hundreds of people died from the climate change-induced heat wave and out-of-control forest fires. The country is woefully unprepared for these emergencies without adequate numbers of firefighters and water bombers.
Worse, new fighter jets will exacerbate the climate
crisis as they consume excessive specialized fossil fuels. The Department of National Defence (DND) has no plan to offset these military emissions.
Even more troubling, all carbon emissions from Canadian Armed Forces operations and military vehicles like fighter jets, frigates and tanks are exempted from the national greenhouse gas reduction plan.
Signatories argue that a new fleet of warplanes will lock Canada into costly, carbon-intensive militarism that will make it impossible for us to rapidly decarbonize and meet our Paris Agreement obligations.
Moreover, fighter jets are used to bomb other countries. Over the past 20 years, Canadian CF-18S have conducted thousands of airstrikes in Serbia, Libya, Syria and Iraq, killing innocent people and destroying civilian infrastructure.
According to a recent NANOS poll, the majority of Canadians want our country’s role in the world to be a peacekeeper and mediator, not a war-fighter.
This new open letter builds on the growing national opposition to the fighter jet purchase. Last month, over 1,100 Canadians signed a parliamentary petition to cancel the competition, which was introduced in the House of Commons by Green Party MP Paul Manly.
It’s time for the Liberal government to listen to Canadians and ground its plans to buy new fighter jets.