Toronto Action for Social Change
Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West
Toronto, ON M6C 1C0
(416) 651-5800; email@example.com
Canada Finds Billions for Affordable Housing Program, But Gives it to the War Dept. to Buy War Choppers
$2.9 billion to be used to purchase new military helicopters-unless we stop it
Canada's War Dept., at a bloated $11.2 billion and growing, has announced with glee Federal Cabinet approval to purchase 28 new military helicopters at a cost to taxpayers of $2,9 billion (and likely to grow given the pork-barrel nature of military projects).
With over 200,000 homeless people in Canada and millions more facing the prospect of no roof over their heads, the government could have committed this money to building 72,500 affordable housing units. (Indeed, Minister of Homelessness Claudette Bradshaw refers queries about the whereabouts of housing construction funds to Minister of Public Works Alfonso Gagliano. Mr Gagliano, instead of finding funds for affordable housing construction, was part of this joint helicopter announcement with War Minister Art Eggleton).
These billion-dollar war machines are being nicely described as 'maritime' copters whose primary purpose is search and rescue, but time and again, if you read between the lines, we see terms such as onboard "weapons systems" which the Sea Kings were unable to support. (Among the capability of the new copters will be to carry and fire two MK-46 torpedoes.)
"The maritime helicopter is vital to ensuring that War Dept. and the CF (Canadian Forces) maintain multi-purpose, combat-capable forces," the War Dept, stated in a pres release.
"Due to the addition of equipment and the introduction of heavier weapons," the War Dept. explains, a Sea King's endurance is no longer adequate. Solution? Perhaps taking out heavy weapons!
"Complete with sensors and weapon systems, the maritime helicopter works in combination with surface ships, submarines, and shore-based maritime aircraft," the War Dept. continues, noting these choppers will be used for "defense of North America; NATO collective defense; peace support operations."
The only invasion threatening North America right now is the incredible growth of poverty and environmental degradation (the military is the single largest polluter on earth). NATO's idea of "collective defense" is much like Hitler's (see the devastation wrought in Kosova, for example; indeed, many early NATO officials were recruited from the ranks of Nazis-see Christopher Simpson's excellent study of this sordid historical period, Blowback). Canada's recent "peace support" operations include the genocide committed against the Iraqi people through bombing and armed enforcement of crippling sanctions, claiming well over a million lives; murder in Somalia; bombing the civilian infrastructure of the former Yugoslavia; brutalization in Haiti; rape in the Balkans.
If Canada spent in one year on housing and related support programs what it spends on the preparation for war, homelessness would be eliminated.
Homes, not Bombs! Canada should build homes, not blow them up.
To protest this decision, please contact Art Eggleton at the War Dept.
And contact Alfonso Gagliano (the guy who's supposed to be finding money for housing appears in War Dept. press material cheering the copter deal). He's at (819) 997-5421
While the government certainly needs to hear people's sense of outrage, it is clearly not enough. As two to four homeless people die per week on the streets of Toronto, the government needs to be placed in a situation where it cannot blithely proceed with such plans.
Hence, we encourage raising the nonviolent stakes, by which we mean nonviolent resistance (civil disobedience, office occupations, blockades, war tax refusal, turning the soil on military bases for peaceful uses, transforming local armories into housing projects, etc.) If you are interested in such transformation of a war economy to a people-first economy, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Toronto Action for Social Change (a member of Ontario Homes not Bombs)