Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

CANADA’S MILITARY SPENDING: WHAT ELSE MIGHT OUR MONEY BE SPEND ON

Posted by strattof on June 21, 2014

Last month, Canada’s Parliamentary Secretary for National Defence spoke favourably of boosting Canada’s military spending from 1% of GDP to 1.7%, or from about $20 billion to $33 billion. The current conflict in the Ukraine was offered as one of the justifications.

Over the years, governments have always found ways to justify huge military expenditures, claiming they were necessary to keep Canadians safe.  The real spending record, however, tells a different story.

LAND: THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

Estimates of the financial cost range from $12 billion (Canadian Press) to $22 billion (Parliamentary Budget Officer) to $30 billion (Daryl Copeland, former Canadian diplomat).  162 Canadians have been killed, while some 10% of the more than 40,000 Canadians who have returned home from Afghanistan are estimated to have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or related mental health problems, with follow-on effects for their families, co-workers and communities.

These figures do not include, of course, the lives of the soldiers and fighters of other countries (including Afghanistan), or the countless thousands of Afghan civilians killed in the conflict. In 2011, a researcher at Boston University estimated the total death toll in Afghanistan to be between 30,000-45,000 people. The current total may well be higher.

Canada’s 12-year war in Afghanistan has cost billions of dollars—to say nothing of the human toll.  The promised gains in human rights, democracy, quality of life and safety from terrorism have not been made.

SEA: SUBMARINES

Canada’s fleet of four used diesel-powered submarines has been plagued with problems. Initially purchased for $750 million from the United Kingdom, the submarines’ real costs have more than doubled, with one CBC estimate placing the total cost at over $3 billion.

Meanwhile lengthy, expensive refits and repairs have meant that, at times, Canada has had no functioning submarines at all.

Submarines that were supposed to help protect Canadian arctic sovereignty and assist the US in guarding against Russian sub threats have done little to keep Canada’s coasts safe.

AIR: AIR WAR IN LIBYA

2012 figures from the Department of National Defence (DND) placed the incremental cost of Canada’s 2011 Operation Mobile in Libya at $100 million, double the original estimate. The total cost of the mission came to nearly $350 million.

F-35s

The federal government may decide within days to purchase 65 new F-35 Stealth Strike Fighters from Lockheed-Martin. The government estimates the cost at $45 billion; a recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Rideau Institute says the cost will be at least $10 billion higher—or $56 billion, and perhaps much greater still.

Three years after Operation Mobile, Libya is still on the brink of civil war, while the F-35 program threatens to be a hugely expensive boondoggle that does little to keep Canadians safe, while enabling our participation in further overseas airstrikes along with the US and NATO.

SPACE: BALLISTIC MISSILE “DEFENCE”

This week, the Canadian Senate called for our country to join the US’s anti-missile program, which aims to destroy enemy nuclear missiles in space during mid-flight. An April report from the US General Accounting Office found that this program has cost $40 billion dollars so far, and that its last three tests had failed.

This flawed system offers no protection against supposed missile threats, while wasting billions and threatening a dangerous and destabilizing arms buildup on land and sea and in the air—even in space.

MEDIA

CBC reported last month on a $4 million advertising campaign by the department of Veterans Affairs, including TV ads to run during the NHL playoffs. $28 million was earmarked for celebrating the War of 1812, with over $80 million more set to be spent on a range of World War I and World War II anniversaries over the next several years.

All the while, Canadian veterans struggle to get benefits or receive treatment for physical and mental health concerns.

WRONG PRIORITIES AND LOST OPPORTUNITIES

Time and time again, Canadian governments and associated experts tell the population we need massive spending on guns, planes, ships, missiles and other weapons systems—all to protect us from the enemy, be it the Taliban, the Iranians, the North Koreans or the Russians.

Time and time again, the dollars spent on these programs—and many more—have failed to produce the promised gains in safety, security, justice and peace.  Meanwhile, money that could be spent on health care, education, the environment and a host of other projects is missing.

Email your MP and say you want Canada’s spending priorities straightened out: resources should go to support priorities of peace and justice, not wasteful and destructive military equipment and missions.

Ray Boughen: ray.boughen@parl.gc.ca

Ralph Goodale: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca

Tom Likiwski: tom.lukiwski@parl.gc.ca

Andrew Scheer: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca  

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