Opinion Piece to Chronicle Herald on $25 Billion Tax Dollars for Warships

by Sarah Morgan of NSVOW
The article was a collaborative effort among many VOW members.  The theme and tone arose from two VOW meetings specifically on the topic of VOW’s response to the $25 billion ship-building contract for Nova Scotia.

Is allocating $25 billion to build warships in Halifax the best way to spend Canadian taxpayers’ money? The Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace supports redirecting these funds to social and environmental programs in order to build a society of peace.

We could use this money to increase our security, build the society we want, and strengthen our economy. Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said in a recent speech, “The terrorist attacks of recent decades have shown that our real enemies today are climate change, poverty, inequality, hunger, disease, environmental degradation and illiteracy, which can create dangers anywhere in the world.”

How do warships protect us from these threats? Oscar Arias, whose country of Costa Rica eliminated its military in 1948 after a civil war, also commented, “My country promised to dismantle the institutions of violence, and invest in the progress that makes violence unnecessary . . . In this new century, it is not only foolish and immoral, but also impractical, to spend on the symptoms, but not on the disease – to spend on threats, but not on their cause.”

Addressing these causes could include investing instead in life-affirming priorities, such as the green collar economy, human rights, women’s empowerment, early learning and childcare, affordable housing, arts and culture, health care, education, renewable energy, and environmental protection.

War economies need wars to flourish. Is that what we want to base our economy on?

What are we sacrificing? For example, CAP programs, Katimavik, and CBC, are three life-affirming areas where funding is currently being cut.

International law can also be a potent factor in conflict resolution. For example, the United Nations is helping to resolve a territorial dispute among Canada, Russia and Denmark in the Arctic. Even Senator Colin Kenny, former Chair of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, affirmed in an interview recently, “Issues are going to be settled in the Arctic through diplomacy and with lawyers. We’re not going to go to war up there.”

Are we even getting $25 billion? According to defence economist Dr. Ugurhan Berkok at the Royal Military College, approximately four-fifths of the contract, or $20 billion, will go to companies outside of Nova Scotia to build the navigational and weapons systems for the warships.

The “boom and bust cycle” does not support long-term sustainability in communities.

Our young people want jobs building a better world and they need the education to prepare them for these tasks. Women need to be included in economic opportunities. We need to acknowledge our responsibility to the First Nations on whose land we reside, to our neighbours in our communities, province, country, and world, to the wild creatures we share the earth with, and to our children, grandchildren and the seven generations to come.

True security comes from the absence of war and violence. To prevent war, let’s put our efforts into diplomacy and international law. Let’s work together to mitigate the climate crisis and reduce the risk of increased conflicts over resources. Let’s support human rights around the world, including the rights to clean air and water. Let’s work together to create binding and verifiable treaties to eliminate nuclear weapons world-wide and to limit trade in small arms. These are the actions that will make us more secure and support the creation of a culture of peace.