49.9% vote against Switzerland buying new fighter jets in referendum
Today, Swiss citizens voted 49.9 per cent against their government spending CHF 6 billion (CAD$8.7 billion) to buy new fighter jets.
The Swiss “No to the fighter jets billions” (Nein zu den Kampfjet-Milliarden) campaign says: “The result shows that skepticism about this billion-dollar tax among the population extends far beyond the left-wing camp. That is why the Referendum Committee sees the result of the vote as a success.”
Notably, the no fighter jets campaign in Switzerland was backed by “The Greens – Swiss ecologist party” as well as Greenpeace.
The Canadian Voice of Women for Peace #NoNewFighterJets campaign is utilizing many of the same arguments as the Swiss campaign.
Le News had reported: “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.”
And Swissinfo.ch 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.”
In April 2012, the Auditor General of Canada stated that the $9 billion cost of buying 65 F-35 fighter jets was an “underestimate” given the “sustainment” cost of $16 billion over a 20-year period meant the truer price tag would be $25 billion.
Using the Auditor General’s figure of sustainment costs of an F-35 ($19 billion ÷ 65 fighter jets = $292.3 million), the truer cost of purchasing 88 fighter jets in 2022 could be closer to $44.7 billion (88 x $292.3 million = $25.7 billion + $19 billion purchase price).
The Canadian government accepted bids from three transnational corporations on July 31 and has stated that it will award a 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. This day of action against fighter jets has also been called for this coming Friday October 2. And the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute and World Beyond War are organizing this webinar – with Paul Manly, Leah Gazan and Tamara Lorincz – on Thursday October 15.