Protesters in Victoria gathered as part of a nationwide rally to oppose the federal purchase of 88 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.
The procurement, announced in a statement in March of last year, was planned after Lockheed Martin’s proposal was chosen from what the Canadian government called a “multi-step assessment process.”
With the aircraft slated to change hands as early as 2025, protesters are hoping to sway the minds of legislators with petitions, open letters and rallies.
Cory Greenless, who works with the Victoria Peace Coalition, said the goals of the Jan. 7 rally were to raise awareness and educate the public about the planes, plans and possible consequences of buying the F-35 jets.
“These are aggressive warplanes, they really can’t be considered defensive weapons,” Greenless said. “They have the capability of carrying nuclear bombs and the emissions are enormous, so at this time in the climate emergency, it seems so fool-hardy to be spending what has been estimated to be $77 billion for these new jets over their lifetime.”
Despite the $19 billion the Canadian government has earmarked for the planes, Greenless and the Victoria Peace Coalition believe costs associated with their upkeep will be much higher – to the tune of $77 billion. They cited repair and maintenance as “lifetime costs” for the planes, which Greenless said will beef up the overall price.
The cost, carbon emissions and capabilities of the aircraft are among her top concerns but she also said there are a number of humanitarian issues that would benefit from the funding allocated for the fighter jets and emphasized that carbon emissions from their use won’t help in the climate emergency or aid in the transition from a carbon-based economy.
“The drug crisis has taken an enormous toll, the pandemic itself, the whole housing issue, there are so many other things this money could be used for – to help refugees, to help students, to help artists, I mean all of the human needs that we have that deserve being taken care of,” Greenless said.
With concurrent protests organized as far as Halifax, organizers hope voicing concerns could stall or end the purchase of the Lockheed Martin F-35 jets.
“I feel very strongly that this is a wrong decision by the government, a very dangerous decision and such a poor use of public money,” Greenless said. “From a money point-of-view, from a weapons point-of-view, from a climate point-of-view, this is just the wrong path for Canada to go down.”