Statement by the Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada, July 2017
The Communist Party of Canada condemns the federal Liberal government’s June announcement of its plan to increase military spending by 70% over the next ten years. This massive militarization means the government is committing to increase its already significant role in military interventions and full-scale wars around the world, further escalating imperialism’s drive towards world war.
The Trudeau government’s plan is to add 5,000 regular and reserve personnel to the Canadian Armed Forces, buy a bigger than expected fleet of 88 new fighter jets (with an estimated cost of $15-19 billion), pay for 15 war ships (with an estimated cost of $60 billion), increase the size of Canada’s secretive special forces by 600, and purchase armed drones, all the while increasing annual expenditures by $14 billion to over $32 billion a year within ten years. This is far beyond what the previous Harper Conservative government attempted or had planned.
The military spending plan is being sold as a move towards Canadian sovereignty and away from reliance on the United States. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, the granddaughter of a Nazi collaborator and herself responsible for war-mongering against Russia, said just before the report was issued: “To rely solely on the U.S. security umbrella would make us a client state”.
This ignores the fact that U.S. President Trump and NATO have been lobbying for Canada to increase military spending. This ignores that Canada’s military is already totally tied into the U.S. and NATO’s military power. This is in fact an effort for the Canadian government to become an even bigger partner in the U.S. dirty war machine. The United States has waged a long series of offensive wars since the end of World War II, and for the last sixteen years has been engaged in a permanent “war on terror” that has led to the deaths of millions of people in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Freeland and Trudeau’s use of Canadian sovereignty in order to justify massive military expenditures actually continues to undermine the sovereignty of the peoples of Canada and blocks the path of a truly independent foreign policy of peace and disarmament. In order for this to be possible Canada must immediately withdraw from NATO.
Already under the Harper government Canada helped to lead the regime change operation in Libya, which has resulted in the destruction and ruin of that country. Canadian warships and troops are currently in the Baltic and the Middle East, enhancing US and NATO power. These operations have nothing to do with defence and any increase in military spending will only ensure that Canadian participation in these bloody, dangerous and often illegal wars is drastically increased.
Trudeau’s election victory in 2015 was based on “sunny ways” against the Conservative government’s agenda of war and austerity. He campaigned on more “peacekeeping” and less involvement in the U.S.’s wars in countries like Syria. Now, Trudeau and Defence Minister Sajjan are saying that militarization and war preparations are necessary. In late June, Trudeau announced that Canadians should be proud of a Canadian sniper in Iraq for killing someone from a long distance away. This took place in the context of Canada’s supposedly non-combat role in Iraq. The people that voted Liberal in 2015 did not vote for more war and occupation.
Part of the cynical political spin of this announcement is that Canada needs to play a bigger role on the world stage as the United States “retreats”. Just days before the Trump administration announced that it would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Putting aside the fact that Canada should not play a bigger role in wars around the world, in terms of climate change, increasing the size of the military will also drastically increase Canada’s carbon emissions. The Department of National Defense is already one of Canada’s biggest emitters of carbon, and 88 new jets and 15 new warships makes the military an even larger climate criminal.
For working people in Canada, further militarization means more killing and being killed around the world. It means more military recruitment of our precarious young people, desperate for decent work at home.
Who will pay the tens of billions in increased expenditures? The government has not made any mention of how they intend to fund their ambitious war plan. Those that can afford it won’t be the ones that pay: the corporations and the wealthy. The Liberals have ruled out corporate tax increases. The only options are increased taxes on working people, through sales taxes, user fees and other regressive taxation schemes. Undoubtedly this will mean more attacks on social programs and services: more cuts to Medicare, the privatization of public services and assets, the further privatization of education, and much more.
The priorities of the Liberal government and of Bay Street are seen clearly by comparing the current debate on federal health and social service funding to Indigenous children and the government’s military increase plan. The federal government is in a prolonged legal fight to avoid making the funding to these services equitable between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children. But somehow there are tens of billions of dollars available for war.
The Communist Party of Canada demands that the federal government cut the existing military budget by 75% and use these funds to create good jobs across Canada; build affordable housing and infrastructure; develop a sustainable industrial strategy and expand value-added manufacturing and secondary industry to create jobs; expand and improve Medicare, including a public pharmacare program; address the housing crisis by building social housing across Canada; introduce a universal, accessible, affordable public childcare system; invest in public renewable energy to transition from fossil fuels and pay climate reparations to over-exploited countries to avoid climate catastrophe; fully fund public and post-secondary education and eliminate tuition fees and student debt; increase the minimum wage and pensions; and deliver on promises made to Indigenous peoples for urgent and long-term funding to raise living standards on and off reserve in order to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Trump’s prescription for economic recovery is war: huge profits for the arms industry and total hegemony over the land, labour and resources of the world. We need to fight for a recovery for people. An urgent part of this fight is building the anti-war movement across Canada, with the immediate task of stopping this drive to war.