Greens, NDP stake out positions on $19 billion fighter jet purchase
The citizen-based campaign to block the purchase of new fighter jets for the Canadian Forces drew an audience of over 200 people this week to hear from two MPs and a Senator on their respective views of the military program.
Presentations by Green Party MP Paul Manly and NDP MP Randall Garrison, who is the party’s defence critic, showed a clear distinction between the two opposition parties on the government’s $19 billion plan to replace Canada’s CF-18 Hornets. Bids have been submitted by U.S.-based Lockheed Martin for the F-35, U.S.-based Boeing for its Super Hornet, and by the Swedish firm, Saab, for its Gripen.
“Now is not the time,” say Greens
Manly opposed the timing of the project, saying that “this is really not the time for purchasing weapons” given other pressing issues, such as the pandemic. The Greens would eliminate the controversial F-35 stealth fighter outright as a contender in the competition, and he added that there should be an over-all assessment of Canada’s need for fighters before a final decision is made.
NDP approves of the purchase, but both parties oppose Lockheed Martin’s F-35
The NDP’s position is to move forward with replacing the CF-18s, but the new aircraft must be able to operate in the Arctic and the program should create jobs in Canada, according to Garrison. He agreed with Manly’s critique of the F-35. Garrison said he is pushing the government to make public the studies it has received on the project and its anticipated cost.
A key organizer in the #nonewfighterjets campaign, researcher and activist Tamara Lorincz, opposed buying new jets altogether, arguing they only serve to deepen Canada’s involvement in US-led and NATO-led wars, contribute to climate change, and consume public dollars that should be used for other issues. She asked MPs to call on the government for a gender-based analysis of the program, an environmental assessment, and an analysis of the climate impacts with the plan to offset the emissions.
Independent Senator Marilou McPhedran pledged to use her office to help amplify messages from the peace movement about the purchase.
El Jones, Halifax’s Poet Laureate from 2013–2015, read her poem “Not One More Drop” to the delight of the audience. She had previously performed the piece at a protest outside the Halifax International Security Forum in 2019.
According to the Department of National Defence’s website, the Future Fighter Capability Project will purchase 88 advanced fighter aircraft to “contribute to the safety and security of Canadians and to meet Canada’s international obligations.” The first aircraft is anticipated in 2025.
The webinar was co-hosted by Rachel Small and Bianca Mugyenyi, and organized by the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, World BEYOND War, and co-sponsored by Peace Quest. Canadian Dimension was the media sponsor for this event.
Cover image: Koozma J. Tarasoff
Update: This article was updated to clarify that Tamara Lorincz requested MPs to ask the government for a gender-based analysis of the fighter jet program, not a feminist analysis as stated in the earlier version, as well as environmental assessment and climate impacts.