Dec 132010

From: John & Betsy Bury

Date: Sat, Nov 6, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Subject: F 35 Fighter-Bombers 

This letter was sent to the Minister of Defence and our local MP’s by the Saskatoon Peace Coalition. Letters to the latter might enable a more intelligent debate on this matter. Amidst the discussion of single-sourcing versus at least two alternative planes, the real question is why does Canada need a plane that is designed for penetrating an opposing force’s radar at the beginning of an offensive campaign? Against whom are we going to fling our tiny army in the near future? Surely defence policy, although it is a government responsibility has to be debated in the H of C. 

Here is the letter we sent to the Minister and our MPs. 

—- Original Message —–   

Hon. Peter Mackay, Minister of Defence. 

Dear Minster, 

    We, the Saskatoon Peace Coalition, are writing to you with regard to your Government’s plans to purchase 65 F-35 Stealth Fighter-Bombers from Lockheed Martin. We believe that we reflect the views of many thousands of Canadians who will not be writing or making their views known to you. 

    Mr. Allan Williams, former senior procurement official states that open competition is needed for this fighter aircraft purchase and that it is obviously not publicly transparent. Further he states that sole-sourcing does not save time and should be an open process. As well he states that we do not need these aircraft and the military has yet to justify these numbers. 

    The expenditure of an initial $ 9 billion followed by as much as $ 20-30 billion over thirty years, based on US estimates, should give us pause to calculate what could be done with that amount of taxpayers money if spent on other essential government services, particularly when faced with a $ 56 billion deficit.

     Please consider military equipment promised but as yet unfulfilled. Our Sea-King helicopters are still flying though replacements were promised in 1995. Three joint support ships for the Royal Canadian Navy promised in 2006 that would be invaluable in humanitarian missions as well as supporting our frigates overseas have not yet been contracted. We also need ice-breakers to maintain our sovereignty in the Arctic. It has been shown in Afghanistan that we need heavy-lift helicopters and large transport planes. 

    At a time when housing prices have risen three times faster than the cost of living, many Canadians are no longer able to buy a home. Homelessness is rising and many of our poorest are faced with high rents and are sacrificing food and health related essentials to pay them. One billion dollars would be enough to build between five to six thousand low-income housing units. 

    A billion dollars would pay for the annual health costs of 244,559 Canadians based on 2009 data. Canada is short of nurses and a billion dollars would pay for 18,000 nursing graduates or 12,000 senior nurses. Or we could hire 25,000 young high school teachers. Canadians are struggling and many more are making their way to the food banks. Unemployment is high but there seems to be little job creation a purchase such as this.

     In the late fifties to sixties after Canadians spent hundreds of millions on the Avro-Arrow, our dependence and ties to the UP.SO military increased in an unprecedented way. At that time General Macklin said,,, The Royal Canadian Air Force now is a defensive tactical handmaiden to the United States Strategic Air Force and nothing more…a colonial military instrument serving the nuclear strategy of the United States, Canada has been known as a peacekeeper to the rest of the world, but that has changed with the government following the US into Afghanistan. Canada must return to its original stance of being on call to the United Nations. Canada will soon withdraw from the unwinnable war in Afghanistan, and it is now essential to be preparing for its military role in the future and return to its traditional role as a peacekeeper.

     The primary international requirement is for a highly mobile force capable of operating more like a police force within dangerous low intensity conflict environments that also require close interaction with local populations, something that our forces have gained experience of in Afghanistan. Much of the military equipment and many of the functions both at home and abroad are interchangeable as has been demonstrated by the response from the armed forces to the damage wrought by the recent storms in Newfoundland.

    Given the unmet equipment needs of our armed forces and our most probable role in the future we feel that we are in the dark about the Government’s secret plans that looks as though we are planning to go to war by the  purchase of 65 stealth fighter bombers whose purpose is offensive.

     The most immediate threats to the security of people come in the forms of unmet basic needs, denial of basic rights, social exclusion, social and political disintegration and the escalation of increased political and criminal violence. In addition the retention of and further spread of nuclear weapons has always posed a towering threat to the safety of all peoples. Canada must expend more effort on diplomacy overseas and international cooperation in order to level the share of income, wealth and assets across the world. Canada must immediately make good its promise to spend at least 0.7 % of its GDP on overseas aid.

    We know this is a deal that will certainly benefit the military-industrial complex of which Lockheed Martin is a large part. This is a corporation that is riddled with lawsuits for everything from racial and sexual harassment to fraudulent procurements. It is well known that there is a revolving door between the corporation and the Pentagon, We are anxious to be reassured that there is no similar situation occurring in Canada with special financial gains accruing to special individuals.

    We ask that you take these serious concerns of ourselves and many others into consideration. We look forward to your response.

     Yours sincerely,

    John D.Bury.    For the Saskatoon Peace Coalition.

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