Political attacks

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Dear peace supporter –

As I write this, we are under increased political attack from Stephen Harper and his fundamentalist party supporters.

They are angry for three simple reasons:

First, because we are opposing their wasteful plan that squanders 16 billion Canadian tax dollars on U.S.-built stealth fighters.

Second, because we are standing up for peace and for the values of the United Nations.

And third, we are successfully reaching millions of Canadians through the media with a pro-peace, pro-cooperation message.

They don’t like the fact that our small organization is challenging them at every turn. So we are a daily target for Harper’s attack machine.

  • We were savaged on CBC TV by Conservative MP Laurie Hawn, former fighter pilot and currently Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.
  • Senior Department of National Defence officials are phoning reporters, and even pro-military reporters are calling other journalists, in a smear campaign to silence our voice.
  • Conservative Senator and former broadcaster Pamela Wallin sent letters to newspapers across the country criticizing reporters who quote us on military issues.

That’s why I am so glad that I can count on you as a supporter of our work for peace. Without you, we would not be able to keep speaking out against war and militarism.

Harper’s government is a disaster for Canada. Our reputation around the world is tarnished by these small-minded Conservatives.

And the rest of the world is taking note. It’s unprecedented that Canada could not earn enough votes to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council. What a disgrace.

Country after country voted against Canada because they know that Stephen Harper’s government is pro-war, against UN peacekeeping,opposed to efforts to stop climate change, spending millions promoting asbestos exports, biased on the Middle East, cutting aid to Africa, ignoring UN bodies, and frankly, sounding much the same as the disgraced George Bush administration.

Who knows how much more damage Stephen Harper could have done to Canada and to the world with a seat on the UN Security Council?

As one person wrote on Ceasefire.ca, “Harper is the last person on earth that I would want representing me on any world stage.”

That’s why we’re now pulling together all of our supporters to stop Stephen Harper’s latest affront to Canada’s values and reputation: the wasteful purchase of a fleet of F-35 stealth fighters.

All of us need to say clearly to Stephen Harper, “We don’t need stealth fighters!”

We need to let our friends and colleagues know that these planes are not made to defend Canadian sovereignty; they are made to drop bombs in the first wave of a shock-and-awe campaign.

That’s why they were built by the world’s biggest weapons manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. This huge American corporation sells more than $45 billion worth of arms and military services every year. And now they are hoping to sell hundreds of these planes to countries around the world – including Canada.

This summer, when they thought few were watching, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and other Harper acolytes literally climbed aboard an F-35 stealth fighter in Ottawa, proudly declaring they were spending billions of taxpayers’ hard-earned money on a fleet of 65 stealth fighters.

The applause from the assembled generals and the aerospace CEOs was loud and long. Like Harper,  they don’t care how many people have to go homeless, without an adequate pension, lacking proper health care – they want their
stealth fighters.

Opposition parties have been questioning the government too. But the most important question is, why does Canada even need fighter-bomber warplanes?

I wrote in a new report that Canada shouldn’t buy the stealth fighters, and should get rid of the Air Force’s bombing role altogether.

The media coverage was powerful: “Defence expert decries purchase of ‘shock-and-awe’ fighter jets,” wrote the Globe and Mail, and “F-35 ‘flying Cadillac’ doesn’t meet Canada’s needs: Report,” wrote the Toronto Star.

And the Conservatives went crazy.

So now, we’re ready to bring together our 20,000 Ceasefire supporters and peace groups across Canada to say “No stealth fighters.” I hope you’ll join us.

We have already organized an urgent  teleconference meeting of peace groups from every region of Canada. The resounding message was “Let’s work together to stop the stealth fighters.”

We have launched a new online petition to give a voice to Ceasefire.ca supporters and people everywhere.

MPs are in regular contact with our office.

I will be bringing our message to the all-party National Defence Committee.

And we are producing new research and campaign materials to build the opposition to Harper’s and the defence lobby’s pro-war plans.

Working together, we have already shown we can stand up for peace and make positive changes to government policy.

  • Together we forced Paul Martin to say “No” to George Bush’s Star Wars missile defence scheme.
  • Thousands of petitions from Ceasefire.ca helped move Harper to join an international ban on cluster bombs.
  • Our lobby efforts in Ottawa and across Canada convinced the Harper government to refuse to allow an awful U.S. arms manufacturer to buy the company that owns the Canadarm – a historic first in thousands of foreign take-overs.
  • Our campaign helped prevent Harper from deploying Canadian CF-18 fighter-bombers to Afghanistan.
  • Years of sending petitions, writing reports, and hard campaigning appear to have brought about the end of Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan in 2011 (although the new training mission could slip easily back into combat).

Our goal is to raise $20,000 before the end of the year. I hope I can count on you to give generously. We need to stop Harper’s pro-war agenda in Ottawa, and put Canada back on the road to being a peace leader.

Please let us know you support the campaign to say “No stealth fighters,” and send your contribution to help us win.

In peace,
Steven Staples, Ceasefire.ca

P.S. We are under attack from the Harper Conservatives. Please make your contribution now to help us stop Harper’s plans to spend $16 billion on the F-35 stealth fighters.

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Ceasefire.ca is a project of The Rideau Institute, a public interest research organization, federally incorporated as a not-for-profit organization with Industry Canada under the Canada Corporations Act. Unfortunately, because of our advocacy work for peace, donations to Ceasefire.ca are not tax deductible.

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