Update to blog post: Canadian Forces base to host design and engineering tests on LAVs destined for Saudi Arabia (CBC.ca 18 October, 2016).
Dear Ceasefire.ca supporter,
I bet you are as disheartened as I am to learn that Canada has become the second largest supplier of military goods to the Middle East – mostly from the sordid $15 billion deal to supply Saudi Arabia with light armoured combat vehicles (or LAVs).
In fact, researchers at IHS Jane’s Defence told The Globe and Mail that “Canada has never ranked so highly among all arms-exporting countries.”
How did this happen? How did Canada get mixed up in the dark underbelly of the global arms industry, sending billions of dollars’ worth of light armoured vehicles to the despots in Saudi Arabia?
Armoured vehicles, made right here in Canada and shipped under an earlier contract, were used to supress peaceful pro-democracy protesters in neighbouring Bahrain, and now are taking part in bloody attacks in Yemen, where the Saudi-led coalition has been blacklisted by the UN for the unconscionable number of children killed by its airstrikes.
This new arms deal, to sell even more LAVs to Saudi Arabia over the next decade, contradicts everything we stand for. Our middle-power nation is known around the world for inventing peacekeeping, for banning landmines, for rejecting George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq and his Star Wars missile defence system.
These are values that you and I share, and together, we have steadfastly upheld and promoted them. That’s why I am counting on your support, once again. Like you, I am not prepared to let the arms dealers win.
It was almost a year ago that millions of Canadians voted for historic change – finally ridding Canada of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
And in his first year in office Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has got many things right – ending the bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq, welcoming thousands of refugees from that war-torn region, working to restore Canada as a leader in UN peacekeeping, and unmuzzling scientists, diplomats and other officials serving the public interest.
These are important steps forward and we can be immensely proud of the role we have played in making them happen. But…
There is a formidable obstacle still standing in our way.
I am talking about the Defence Lobby – that powerful network of corporations (mostly U.S.-headquartered), politicians, academics and media pundits – all fuelled by billions of dollars in military spending.
The Defence Lobby has been working overtime to push the Trudeau government to make more dubious arms deals, and even to abandon their promise to kill the Harper plan to buy the obscenely overpriced and under-performing F-35 stealth fighter.
Under new transparency rules, the Liberal government released the 2014 and 2015 Reports on Canada’s Military Exports and, unbelievably, they reveal that Middle Eastern tyrants like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are not the only questionable recipients of Canadian-made weapons. In fact, Algeria, Thailand (after the military coup), Peru and Colombia are also recipients, despite their dreadful human rights records.
Canadian companies have also been accused of UN sanctions-busting, through banned weapons sales to Libya and South Sudan.
What is happening to the Canada that you and I grew up in?
We have just come through a veritable “decade of darkness” characterized by reckless military spending, disastrous foreign wars, and Cold War sabre-rattling.
We can clearly see the terrible results. The Defence Lobby, and the arch Conservative think tanks they fund, have become so deeply entrenched in the Canadian body politic and they have such a stranglehold on government that the Liberals seem powerless to escape their dark influence.
That is why we must work extremely hard to counter their insidious effects. That means, despite Harper’s being gone, we cannot stop pressing the Justin Trudeau Liberals to honour their commitments for change, and to act courageously and decisively in support of human rights, peace and justice.
We have a lot of work to do. I hope you will join me!
Here are some of the key steps towards building sustainable peace and common security that we are urging the government to take:
- Giving top priority to war prevention, peaceful conflict resolution and building the United Nations envisaged by the UN Charter;
- Greater participation in UN peacekeeping missions and international peacekeeping training;
- Taking a leadership role for a UN convention to ban nuclear weapons;
- Working to outlaw killer robots, space weapons and other destabilizing weapons systems;
- Rejecting the American gold-plated F-35 stealth fighter boondoggle;
- Keeping Canada out of American ballistic missile defence;
- Overhauling Harper’s oppressive, undemocratic national security policies, particularly Bill C-51;
- And of course we need to keep up the long and vitally important fight to turn Canada from a reckless global arms trafficker to a principled, responsible member of the Arms Trade Treaty.
These are our proposals, and we are taking action every day to make them a reality.
We worked with a wide range of groups to develop our groundbreaking submission to the government’s Defence Policy Review.
We will continue to bring citizen groups together to influence the outcome of both the Defence and National Security Policy Reviews.
We will continue meeting with MPs, working with the media, and speaking to conferences, seminars and countless other public events to get our peacebuilding message out!
We will also continue to rely on our amazing group of student volunteers who use social media to reach out to their peers from our office near Parliament Hill.
Ever since Ceasefire.ca was established back in 2003, we have been warning the government and journalists that Canada was on the path toward being a global war profiteer, not a peace-builder.
I have worked my whole professional life supporting the values of the United Nations and international cooperation. This is a crucial moment in Canadian history…the decisions made today will define us for a generation.
We need to work together to keep up the momentum that began in the last election to truly bring back Canada, the international peacebuilder.
Nearly 1000 Canadians give a small donation to support our work every month, and hundreds more give special gifts throughout the year.
You are a long-time peace supporter, so I’d like to invite you to join our special Peacekeepers monthly donors club, and give a small donation of $12 each month by debit, PayPal or credit card.
When you join, you can choose to receive a free paperback copy of The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man – now a major film by director Oliver Stone.
Or make a special gift of $45, or whatever you can afford, to support our vital peace work this fall.
Thank you for your long-time support for peace. Please join me, once again, in working to ensure that the Trudeau government rejects the dark path toward endless war, and chooses instead a route toward sustainable peace.
Onward in peace,
Peggy Mason, Rideau Institute and Ceasefire.ca
(Peggy Mason is Canada’s former UN Ambassador for Disarmament)
P.S. Please help us counteract the insidious Defence Lobby by supporting our vital work to convince the Trudeau government to stand for peace – not war. Join our Peacekeepers Monthly Donor club with a donation of $[Contact.ask2monthly] and choose to claim your free copy of “The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man” – now a major film by director Oliver Stone.