Global Day of Action on Military Spending
GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION ON MILITARY SPENDING – April 12th, 2011
In the last ten years the world has seen a 50% increase in military budgets up to a worldwide total of $1.5 trillion (US$). This increase in military spending is a big part of the reason our deficits have grown; however, not one word was uttered at the G20 about cutting military budgets as a means of reducing deficits. In 2008 the total world expenditure on militarism reached 4 billion dollars per day. The same amount could cover 2928 years of the budget of the new UN women’s agency, 700 years of the UN regular budget, and over 24 years of the additional foreign aid required to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
On April 12, 2011, the Global Day of Action on Military Spending , people all over the world will join together in joint actions to focus public, political, and media attention on the costs of military spending and the need for new priorities.
A recent national survey, conducted by Leger Marketing, asked: “With Canada’s military role ending in Afghanistan next year, what should the focus be on the government’s military spending?”
Almost 60% of those questioned believe: “Canada should take a peace dividend and cut back on military spending to focus on other more pressing social issues at home.”
“According to the latest budget estimates, Canada will spend $21.185 billion on its military forces in fiscal year (FY) 2009–10, 9.6% more than it did last year (FY 2008–09) and about 15% more than it did in its peak spending year during the Cold War (FY 1952–53),” writes Bill Robinson, defence analyst and author of Canadian military spending 2009. It is twenty times the size of federal Environment Department spending ($1.064 billion).
Many Canadians are still under the illusion that most of our military spending is for UN peacekeeping operations but our current contribution is meager. Much to the surprise of most Canadians, as of March 2007, Canada ranked 59th out of 114 countries in terms of military and police contributions to UN operations. The Number of Canadian soldiers involved in UN peacekeeping missions in 1991 was 1149. In 2009 there were only 56 military and 178 police out of a total of 97,000 worldwide.
Another common illusion is that we need to spend money on the military in order to combat terrorism. However the Rand study, How Terrorist Groups End, revealed that of 268 such groups that ended over a period of almost 40 years (1968-2006):
• 40 per cent “were penetrated and eliminated by local police and intelligence agencies”;
• 43 per cent “reached a peaceful political accommodation with their government” (in negotiations they moved to progressively narrower demands);
• 10 per cent won; and
• in only 7 per cent of cases did “military force [lead] to the end of terrorist groups” (Jones & Libicki 2008, p. 1).
The ratio of Canadian government expenditure on defense to expenditure on international development is a shameful 4:1
As shown in the federal budget from the Public Accounts of Canada, 2007-2008, the defence budget is more than the federal government spends on the Environment, Education, Fisheries & Oceans, Health Canada, Justice, Human Resources and International Aid combined:
|TOTAL DEFENCE SPENDING||17,330,809,000|
|Education *(Estimate from transfer to provinces)||4,700,000,000|
|Fisheries and Oceans||1,648,907,000|
|International Aid *(From several departments)||2,540,000,000|
|TOTAL SPENDING ON SOCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL DEPTS||16,856,140,000|
Also shameful is the fact that the federal government gives a paltry $25 million to the Status of Women and only $46 million to the CBC (under Canadian Heritage CRTC $1 billion).
Canadians were never consulted on this strategy and never asked if we want our tax dollars spent this way.
We are also not being consulted on the purchase of F35 fighter planes. Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page has reported that the price tag for the F-35 stealth fighters that the Harper government wants to buy is likely to end up much higher than the government has been suggesting.
Page’s report warns that the real figure could end up close to $30 billion. Liberal defence critic Dominic LeBlanc said recently “To put this in perspective, $30-billion is equivalent to $1,000 for every man, woman and child in Canada, and equals the entire federal government’s annual spending on health care.”
The Canadian Voice of Women for Peace wishes to remind the Canadian Government of the historic and long overdue commitment (called an Agreed Conclusion) which it made at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), in March 2002, to ” Incorporate a gender perspective into the design, development, adoption and execution of all budgetary processes as well as economic and financial policies in a transparent manner to ensure, where appropriate, that national budgets and priorities as well as resource allocations support the eradication of poverty, empowerment of women, and the achievement of gender equality goals, & ENSURE WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN ALL SUCH PROCESSES.” We therefore strongly suggest that Canada consider partnering with interested NGOs, including the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, in a funded seminar to rigorously consider ways to increase capacity at all levels- the diplomatic corps, the bureaucracy, M.P.s, and CSOs – in peace- building skills, including non-violent conflict prevention options.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on April 4, 1967 warned: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
The Canadian Voice of Women for Peace therefore calls on the Canadian government to invest our tax dollars to help our country transition to a sustainable, low carbon economy, to create a more equitable and vibrant society, and to support child care, education, and health care; in other words to help create a Culture of Peace in Canada and the world.
What you can do:
1. Email Finance Minister James Flaherty at Flaherty.J@parl.gc.ca or write postage free c/o House of Commons, Ottawa, K1A 0A6.
2. Email Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay Mackay.P@parl.gc.ca or write postage free c/o House of Commons, Ottawa, K1A 0A6.
3. Email Prime Minister Stephen Harper Harper.S@parl.gc.ca or write postage free c/o House of Commons, Ottawa, K1A 0A6.
4. Reach out to each of the opposition parties, especially the Liberal official opposition, and request that their party platforms include explicit commitments to reduce military spending.. Email Party Leaders Michael Ignatieff (Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca ), Jack Layton (Layton.J@parl.gc.ca ) and Gilles Duceppe (Duceppe.G@parl.gc.ca ) or write to each postage free care of the House of Commons, Ottawa, K1A 0A6.
5. Use all the media speculation about the federal budget and election to write a letter to the editor about Canada’s return to global leadership on peacekeeping.
6. Meet with your MP to raise this issue and discuss it in relation to the upcoming budget on March 22. Find your MP at www.parl.gc.ca.