Will Canada’s new Defence Minister recognize that militarism deepens the climate crisis?

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Can the F-35s “advanced stealth, integrated avionics, sensor fusion and superior logistics support” defeat climate breakdown? – George Monbiot

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet will be sworn in on Tuesday October 26. It is widely expected that the current Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will be replaced.

The UN COP26 climate summit will run from October 31 to November 12, the House of Commons will resume sitting on November 22, and a decision on Canada’s new fighter jet is expected to be made in March 2022.

With these dates on the imminent horizon and $76.8 billion to be spent on new fighter jets, the new cabinet should recognize, as George Monbiot has noted: “If ever there were a time to reassess the genuine threats to our security and separate them from the self-interested aims of the weapons industry, this is it.”

This past June, while at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Brussels, Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed “Canada’s interest in hosting a NATO Centre of Excellence on Climate and Security.”

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office notes: “The [Centre of Excellence] would play an important role in helping the Alliance to better understand, adapt to, and address the security implications of climate change.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also described climate change as a national security issue.

Yesterday, Jeff Sparrow wrote in The Guardian: “He’s right – but not in the way he imagines. If global heating exacerbates conflict, conflict also exacerbates heating, in a dialectic that fundamentally links decarbonisation to the struggle for peace.”

Sparrow adds: “Not surprisingly, multiple studies warn that, on a hothouse planet, extreme conditions intensify existing tensions, making more likely civil wars, military incursions and even genocides.”

Furthermore: “As you may expect, conflict makes responding to global warming more difficult, as people and institutions grappling with war lack the capability to simultaneously address environmental disaster.”

Sparrow also highlights: “Modern militaries reliant on enormous quantities of fossil fuel.” An F-35, the warplane Canada is expected to choose, carrying 18,500 pounds of fuel can burn all of that in under an hour at full speed.

He concludes: “Without peace, there’ll be no climate action – and without climate action, there’ll be no security for Australia or any other nation.”

World Beyond War has this petition that says military pollution should not be excluded from climate agreements. Tim Wallis from World Beyond War will be at the People’s Summit in Glasgow speaking on Challenging the Military Carbon Bootprint.

Tamara Lorincz will also be in Glasgow as part of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) delegation to present her research on the climate impacts of the military and to call for demilitarization and decarbonization.

Will the Canadian government and the new Defence Minister accept these arguments? No, it’s not likely. But public mobilization and creative direct action can have an impact.

The Canada Peace Network will continue to organize on these issues including mobilizing at Canada’s largest weapons fair, CANSEC, scheduled to take place in-person in Ottawa (unceded Algonquin territory) on June 1-2, 2022.

If you are in the Ottawa area, please join us on Parliament Hill on Monday November 22 when the House of Commons resumes sitting at 11:00 am.

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