Dear Ceasefire.ca supporter,
I am writing to urge you to take action on the most alarming and probably the most unreported story in Canada.
It’s something that is barely covered in the media. Sometimes it’s mentioned one piece at a time, but rarely is it all put together in one big picture.
That’s what I want to tell you about – the big picture and how frightening it is. And then I want to share with you our plan. I hope you will join me.
You and I both know that Canada is on the wrong path. If it keeps going in this direction, the wonderful country our grandparents, our parents, and we ourselves have worked so hard to build will be lost. Our children are being left without the opportunities we enjoyed.
Our country is changing. Stephen Harper is turning Canada into a global bully. He’s attacking the environment, seniors, the CBC, defenceless refugees, peace groups, and anyone who stands in his way.
Yet despite his attacks our network at Ceasefire.ca is growing. Today we can announce that we have become a network of 25,000 people – an increase of 25% in only a few weeks. We are reaching people just like you who are committed to making Canada a peace leader once again.
Ceasefire.ca’s work is vital to confronting Harper’s plans. When you put all the pieces together, it’s clear that Harper wants to do a lot more than be able to send commandos, stealth fighters, and drones to fight wars around the world. . .
Harper wants to turn Canada into a permanent war economy – a nation of arms builders, providing weapons that fuel wars and militaries around the world.
And Harper’s working with global weapons corporations to do it.
Don’t get me wrong. . . I’m not talking about a conspiracy. This is Harper’s political and economic agenda. It’s his political philosophy. He believes what makes a country great is its ability to wage war.
The media just don’t seem to get it, but it’s clear that Harper is working hand in hand with the big arms companies. He’s handing billions of tax dollars to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and others, and in the process is transferring major political power to the multinational corporations.
One CEO exclaimed that the financial impact of Harper’s military buildup is “bigger than the oils sands!”
In 2006 Harper started shifting billions of tax dollars into new weapons right after taking power. Then two years later he revealed his Canada First Defence Strategy – a massive half-trillion-dollar arms buildup never seen before in Canada. It’s an incredible list of warships, stealth fighters, tanks, drones, military satellites, and more, all extending out over twenty years.
In Ottawa, the grease for this massive military machine is lobbying. The corporations hire the best lobbyists to sell their products to the military – and the most odious part of this deal is that the best lobbyists are the generals and admirals themselves.
That’s correct; right after retiring the highest-ranking military leaders slip from National Defence Headquarters to the corporate lobbying offices surrounding Parliament Hill. One such lobby firm, CFN Consultants, counts four former generals and two former admirals among their senior lobbyists.
CBC news revealed that their senior consultant and retired general Paddy O’Donnell is a close friend of General Rick Hillier. Yes, that’s the former head of Canada’s military who led Canada into a combat disaster in Afghanistan.
Another of CFN Consultants’ lobbyists is retired general George Macdonald, and his main client is Lockheed Martin – the U.S. manufacturer of the F-35 stealth fighter.
The arms industry is very cozy with journalists. Just a short while ago Postmedia reporter Matthew Fisher wrote a national column in favour of armed drones for Canada. He coldly dismissed civilian casualties of U.S. drone strikes as being regrettable but “rare.”
The drone lobby must have been pleased.
Matthew Fisher has close ties with the military and was even awarded a so-called journalism award along with $2,500 from the Conference of Defence Associations. This is a group of retired generals funded by the Canadian military and weapons corporations.
But it gets worse. Harper is not just buying billions of dollars’ worth of arms – now he wants to sell billions in arms internationally, making Canada a global weapons dealer.
In the latest budget, Harper’s Finance Minister announced a partnership with the weapons industry. Hundreds of millions of tax dollars will flow into research and development subsidies every year – not for defence, but instead to sell more arms abroad.
Just as the Afghanistan war was sold to “support the troops,” so too are Harper’s arms dealing plans being sold as “creating jobs.” But I’m sure that Canadians who can’t find work don’t want to be forced to take jobs building weapons that threaten and kill people in other countries – what kind of economy is that? What kind of job is that?
The power of the arms industry is enormous. Our military spending has reached $18 billion each year. Canada’s “defence and security industry” has 2,000 firms, and that’s according to its own lobby group. It makes $12.6 billion in deals every year, half of those in sales to the United States and other foreign countries.
The government is supposed to provide annual figures for military exports, but for years Harper has refused to release any information. And arms exports to the U.S. simply cross the border without any permits. The Pentagon can do what it likes with those weapons – use them in wars around the world, re-sell them, or give them away to militants of their choosing.
Recently, Canadian-made light tanks sold to Saudi Arabia were spotted rolling through the streets of neighbouring Bahrain helping to crush pro-democracy protests.
In a new deal, more tanks built in Canada will be sold to conflict-plagued Colombia – the most dangerous country in the world to be a labour and human rights advocate. This is just months after Harper signed a new free trade deal with Colombia.
Peace and human rights groups have been leading international efforts for a new international treaty to track arms sales. The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty was vigorously opposed by the National Rifle Association in the United States. The Harper government is also critical of this arms sales treaty, and this earned Stephen Harper high praise from Canada’s own gun lobby group, which is in line with the NRA.
To stop Harper will take thousands of Canadians working together. Ceasefire.ca is confronting Harper at every opportunity, and we are reaching out to other groups, and to young people so we can help make the peace movement stronger.
This year Ceasefire.ca is celebrating ten years of successful campaigning for peace. We are honoured to receive support from many well-known Canadians, and thousands of donors just like you.
Over the coming months we are asking all of our supporters to help raise $25,000 before the return of Parliament in September. We’ll use the funds to stop the war lobby and to target big corporations like Lockheed Martin, the maker of the F-35 stealth fighter.
• When Parliament returns we will be hosting a briefing for Members of Parliament with William Hartung, an expert on the inner workings of the arms industry from Washington D.C. to Ottawa.
• We will reach out to young people in a special campaign.
• We will be focusing on the media to expose Harper’s deal with the weapons corporations.
Every new person to become a member of our Peacekeepers monthly donor club for a small gift of just $7 each month will receive a copy of William Hartung’s newest book, The Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the making of the military-industrial complex.
I hope I can count on your support. Our success over the years has always come about because we can count on supporters just like you. Together we are incredibly effective.
Thanks for everything you do for peace.
P.S. Please help us to stop the war lobby and join our Peacekeepers monthly donor club for as little as $7 each month, or a special one-time gift of whatever you can afford.