FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AUGUST 17, 2000
Move to Spend Almost $3 billion on Helicopters Condemened by Toronto Homes not Bombs Group
Homes not Bombs&endash;Toronto today issued a stinging condemnation of Ottawa's plans to purchase almost $3 billion worth of military helicopters, stating that such monies should be used to address the crisis of homelessness and underhousing.
Canada's War Dept., at a bloated $11.2 billion and growing, announced with glee Federal Cabinet approval to purchase 28 new military helicopters at a cost to taxpayers of $2,9 billion (and likely to grow given the pork-barrel nature of military projects).
"With over 200,000 homeless people in Canada and millions more facing the prospect of no roof over their heads, the government could have committed this money to building 72,500 affordable housing units," said Homes not Bombs' spokesperson Matthew Behrens "Indeed, Minister of Homelessness Claudette Bradshaw refers queries about the whereabouts of housing construction funds to Minister of Public Works Alfonso Gagliano. Mr Gagliano, instead of finding funds for affordable housing construction, was part of this joint helicopter announcement with War Minister Art Eggleton."
Behrens noted these billion-dollar war machines are being nicely described as 'maritime' copters whose primary purpose is search and rescue, but time and again, if you read between the lines, we see terms such as onboard "weapons systems" which the Sea Kings were unable to support. (Among the capability of the new copters will be to carry and fire two MK-46 torpedoes.)
"The maritime helicopter is vital to ensuring that War Dept. and the CF (Canadian Forces) maintain multi-purpose, combat-capable forces," the War Dept, stated in a pres release.
"Due to the addition of equipment and the introduction of heavier weapons," the War Dept. explains, a Sea King's endurance is no longer adequate.
Homes not Bombs pointed out one solution is perhaps taking out heavy weapons!
"Complete with sensors and weapon systems, the maritime helicopter works in combination with surface ships, submarines, and shore-based maritime aircraft," the War Dept. continues, noting these choppers will be used for "defence of North America; NATO collective defence; peace support operations."
Homes not Bombs-Toronto points out the only invasion threatening North America right now is the incredible growth of poverty and environmental degradation (the military is the single largest polluter on earth). NATO's idea of "collective defence" is much like Hitler's (see the devastation wrought in Kosova, for example; indeed, many early NATO officials were recruited from the ranks of Nazis&endash;see Christopher Simpson's excellent study of this sordid historical period, Blowback). Canada's recent "peace support" operations include the genocide committed against the Iraqi people through bombing and armed enforcement of crippling sanctions, claiming well over a million lives; murder in Somalia; bombing the civilian infrastructure of the former Yugoslavia; brutalization in Haiti; rape in the Balkans.
"If Canada spent in one year on housing and related support programs what it spends on the preparation for war, homelessness would be eliminated," Behrens said.
Homes not Bombs staged a three-hour nonviolent action last November to transform the War Dept. in Ottawa into the Housing Dept. 54 people were arrested, and most go on trial this November.
In addition to calling the ministers who made the announcement, the group is urging concerned individuals and groups to "raisie the nonviolent stakes, by which we mean nonviolent resistance (civil disobedience, office occupations, blockades, war tax refusal, turning the soil on military bases for peaceful uses, transforming local armouries into housing projects, etc.)
For more information call (416) 651-5800.
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