A budget that “unlocks pathways to a good life” needs to cut military spending!

On the eve of the 2024 federal budget, one which Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said would “unlock pathways to a good middle class life for the next generation,” the government announced it was increasing military spending to $58 billion annually by 2029.

This means that Canada’s military budget will rise from 1.29 percent of GDP to 1.76 percent and is in direct response to NATO’s demand that its members spend 2 percent of GDP on armaments.

The government says these funds will be used to buy and build offensive weapons to be staged in the Arctic under NORAD command, and to produce and export weapons, munitions and vehicles for use in foreign wars. This includes equipment that could be used by police and military at protests and picket lines across Canada.

At a time when working people in Canada desperately need increased funding for health, education and social programs, for jobs and climate justice, why is the government announcing billions in more military spending? And why is it making the announcement right ahead of a federal budget?

This decision to divert billions of dollars from civilian to military spending has nothing to do with defence and everything to do with Canada’s involvement in NATO and its wars and aggression around the world.

It’s a decision that will result in deep cuts to universal social programs and the privatization of many, including universal Medicare and public and post-secondary education which are already in crisis due to underfunding and privatization.

It’s a decision that increases the immediate threat of broader wars in Europe and Asia, including a nuclear war which would destroy the whole world.

This policy is a declaration of war against the people of Canada who fought long and hard for healthcare, education, Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, the Canada Child Tax Benefit, social assistance and many other public services including public parks and recreation, social housing, public transit and more.

It’s a declaration of war against the sovereign states and peoples of the world that do not bend to the demands of imperialism, the transnational corporations and the wealthy elites whose profits and interests it advances. NATO is no longer limited to the ‘North Atlantic’ – it has transformed into imperialism’s global army and is, as the World Peace Council says, “the enemy of the peoples.”

Escalating militarization will also vastly increase Canada’s carbon footprint at home and abroad. The Canadian military is already the government’s single biggest producer of carbon, and its environmental impact is exempt from calculations of the country’s overall carbon footprint.

Canada needs an independent foreign policy of peace and disarmament that includes withdrawal from aggressive military blocs like NATO and NORAD, and government policies that strengthen and democratize the UN and build up the global forces for peace and political solutions to global political problems.

An independent foreign policy of peace and disarmament would increase security for people in Canada and around the world, while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions and making the planet livable.

Shamefully, none of the parties in Parliament has opposed this massive militarization.

All progressive and peace-loving peoples, and the labour and democratic movements, need to oppose this escalation of military spending and defeat this policy of war and reaction and subservience to NATO and US diktat.

Converting military spending to civilian needs (not the other way around!) would facilitate expanded Medicare and many other universal social programs and public services fought for and won by working people. This would include universally accessible, quality and free public childcare. It would include a public program to build and provide truly affordable housing, adequate funding for municipal governments, and a rapid green transition. It would include good jobs with livable incomes, strong pensions and EI reforms that provide good coverage for all unemployed workers.

That’s how to “unlock pathways to a good life.”

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