Opponents of Canada spending billions on fighter jets draw inspiration from Swiss campaign for September 27th vote

Published by Brent Patterson on

Twitter photo by @Anna_Leissing.

Opponents of the Canadian government spending $19 billion on new fighter jets are looking to the Swiss campaign opposed to a similar acquisition plan.

On Sunday September 27, Swiss citizens will be voting in a binding referendum on whether their federal government can spend CHF 6 billion (CAD$8.7 billion) on new fighter jets.

Le News reports: “Those behind this vote argue that the purchase is unnecessary and wasteful of public money. They would prefer to see the money spent on health, protection against natural disasters and climate change.”

Reuters adds: “Many oppose the idea, saying the neutral country neither can afford nor needs cutting-edge warplanes to defend Alpine territory which a supersonic jet can cross in 10 minutes.”

And Swissinfo.ch has noted: “[Opponents] argue it makes more sense to use the funds for disaster relief, health, climate projects, public transport, old age pensions or education. They argue that Switzerland can police its airspace with cheaper jets which would also cause less damage to the environment.”

“Campaigners have also warned that the government is downplaying the real costs for the new aircraft. When maintenance and other costs are accounted for, the bill will amount to CHF24 billion [CAD$34.8 billion] rather than CHF6, opponents say.”

That article also highlights: “The opposition camp includes the two main left-wing parties (Social Democrats and Greens), the environmental Greenpeace organisation as well as pacifist groups.”

In 2014, 53.4% of Swiss voters said no to spending CHF10 billion on 22 Gripen fighter jets. Some suggested at the time that voters saw that money better spent on education and social security rather than on warplanes.

A poll conducted in August suggests that 39% of voters are now opposed to the purchase of fighter jets and campaigners have been working hard over the past month to increase that number over the needed threshold.

If voters approve the acquisition of new fighter jets, the government will decide among various aircraft including the Lockheed Martin F-35 and the Boeing F/A-18 (which are also currently being considered by the Canadian government).

The Canadian government accepted bids from three transnational corporations on July 31 and has stated that it will award a $19 billion contract to one of them in 2022 to manufacture 88 new fighter jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

This petition has been launched calling on the Canadian government to change its mind and to choose people and peace, not weapons and war.

For the latest on the Swiss campaign, please see the Twitter page of Nein zu den Kampfjet-Milliarden (No to the fighter jets billions) and the Facebook page of GSoA – Gruppe für eine Schweiz ohne Armee (Group for a Switzerland without an army).


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