PBI-Canada endorses the War Is Not Essential virtual day of action on June 11

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Peace Brigades International-Canada has endorsed the War Is Not Essential online day of action happening on Thursday June 11 starting at 1 pm ET.

Among the issues we are hoping to highlight through this day of action:

Arms exports from Canada are increasing

According to Global Affairs Canada, Canada’s global military exports more than doubled in 2018 ($2.069 billion) from 2017 ($1.031 billion). The most recently released report indicates: “For the 2019 calendar year, the value of Canadian exports of controlled military goods and technology amounted to a record high of approximately $3.757 billion.”

That report notes: “Saudi Arabia was the largest non-U.S. export destination, receiving approximately $2.864 billion in Canadian military exports (accounting for approximately 76% of the total value of non-U.S. military exports).”

Project Ploughshares further highlights: “For years, Canada’s arms exports to the United States have been largely exempt from federal reporting protocols. Such exemptions persist despite Canada’s September 2019 accession to the Arms Trade Treaty.”

Ploughshares adds: “According to Export Controls Canada, roughly half of Canada’s annual arms sales are to its southern neighbour.”

The UN Secretary-General has called for a Global Ceasefire

PBI-Canada has previously indicated our support for the call by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres for an immediate global ceasefire so that the world can focus on addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

We have also noted that while Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne stated on April 10 that Canada ‘fully supports’ the call for a global ceasefire, he had announced the day before that Canada’s temporary suspension of the approval of new arms export permits to Saudi Arabia had been lifted.

Along with the ongoing export of 742 Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia, there are also 48 military-related export permits ready to be signed by the government.

When the UN Secretary-General repeated his call for a global ceasefire on May 21, he noted that 3,217 civilians were reported to have been killed or injured in Yemen in 2019, with children accounting for 25 per cent of the casualties.

Saudi Arabia has been at war with Yemen since March 2015. The UN refugee agency says that more than 40,000 people have been displaced due to the war in Yemen since the beginning of this year and Human Rights Watch says that those fleeing the conflict are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arms production deemed an essential service during the pandemic

Adding to these concerns, CADSI, the lobby group for the arms industry in Canada, announced on April 2 that the Canadian government had also recognized “defence and security in its definition of essential services and functions.”

There is a similar situation in the United States, including at the Lockheed Martin factory in Texas that builds F-35s for the US military and most overseas customers.

On May 18, The Intercept reported: “At Lockheed Martin’s plant in Forth Worth, Texas, workers have protested the reopening of their facility, saying they were concerned about exposing family members to the virus, and that the company wasn’t properly cleaning facilities. Other workers have said that steps being taken to mitigate risk don’t go far enough.”

The call for a Green New Deal and a just transition for workers

Just as the climate justice movement has called for a just transition for the 190,000 workers in the oil and gas industry in this country, a just transition strategy for the 60,000 workers in the “defence and security” industry is equally important.

Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies has written: “To fund the Green New Deal, with all of its component parts, we must transition away from the current war economy… Massive cuts to the military budget will provide funds for green jobs, public education, health care for all, green infrastructure development.”

The Canadian government has previously committed to increase spending on the military from $18.9 billion in 2016-17 to $32.7 billion in 2026-27, with total spending over a 20-year period of $553 billion on a cash basis.

A key pillar of that spending is the planned purchase of 88 fighter jets that would cost $19 billion plus up to $300 million a year to service.

Join the online day of action!

To join the War Is Not Essential online day of action to hear speakers talk about arms exports, the need for a peaceful economy, the importance of a just transition for workers and more, please click on this web-link on June 11 starting at 1 pm ET.

PBI works to create space for peace and to protect human rights. One of our methods in peace building is peace education. It is our hope that education related to arms production in Canada assists in that process of building a more peaceful society.

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