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An Unpopular Fight

Ditch the warships, opt for green jobs, affordable housing and early education

by Hillary Bain Lindsay

Peace activists say $25 billion could be better spent on climate action and homelessness, rather than warships we don't need.  [Photo: Hillary Lindsay]
Peace activists say $25 billion could be better spent on climate action and homelessness, rather than warships we don't need. [Photo: Hillary Lindsay]

When the Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard was awarded a $25 billion shipbuilding contract in October 2011, many Nova Scotians were jubilant.  According to Premier Dexter, the deal – the largest military procurement in modern Canadian history – would result in thousands of jobs for the province, and mean that Nova Scotians driven west for work would now be able to come home. 

But most Nova Scotians are unaware of the true nature of the shipbuilding deal, says peace activist Tamara Lorincz.  She points out that it is warships that will be built, and it will be the one per cent who profits most.    

In December, Lorincz, a mother of two, began “Wednesdays Against Warships,” a weekly protest in front of the Irving Shipyard. For the first couple of weeks, Lorincz stood alone, but her campaign is slowly gaining momentum.  

“Many Nova Scotians feel, even in the social justice community, like this is a hard issue to tackle because there's widespread support [for the shipbuilding contract] and there's the possibility that Nova Scotia can get a lot of money,” says Lorincz. “I felt like I really needed to do something that was very public and very direct … I really want Nova Scotians to see me on the street with my sign, to critically think about their support of this contract.”

Canada does not need warships, says Lorincz, not least because we have no naval enemies. “Who are we going to be using the warships against?”  [The federal government] won't answer that question,” she says.  

“We're facing climate catastrophe. We're facing a poverty crisis in this country,” she says.  “Those are the most pressing needs facing Canadians.”

Lorincz proposes using the $25 billion to build a national green jobs strategy.  “We could be hiring Canadians in every single province and territory, retrofitting buildings, educating for environment and sustainability, installing renewable energy technology, building sustainable transportation.”

“We have chronic homelessness in this country.  We've got First Nations people that are living on reserves with a housing stock that's been characterized by the UN Special Rapporteur of Indigenous Peoples as worse than third world housing. We could also be investing in a national affordable housing strategy.  We could be hiring those people in the shipyard that are in construction and electrical ... We could also have a national early learning and childcare system.”

“We could do it all with 25 billion,” she says.  

Lorincz laments the government putting the money into warships she says we don’t need.  

“We've been told that ‘We need the warships to exert our sovereignty in the Arctic,' but there are many other ways that are much more fiscally responsible and more peaceful and more reasonable than using warships to exert our sovereignty.”  Lorincz gives the example of a territorial dispute between Russia and Canada, which is currently being settled through the United Nations Convention of the Law of Sea Process. “Any issue that we have around Arctic sovereignty can be more prudently resolved by a UN process.”

Finally, although the shipbuilding contract will bring jobs to Nova Scotia, the benefits won’t be nearly what are being promised, says Lorincz.  

“Canadians are enriching the one per cent with the shipbuilding contract,” she says. The Irving family, “is one of the richest families in the country.”  In addition to winning the $25 billion shipbuilding contract, “The provincial government just gave a $260 million forgivable loan to Irving Limited … It's a private family business so Canadians have no access to their financial records, so we have no idea how this money will be spent.”

“This was a handout,” says Lorincz.  “Canadians should be outraged.  The provincial government, at a time when they're cutting back on education, gave a handout to the richest family in the country.

Only $5 billion of the $25 billion contract is predicted to stay in Nova Scotia, according to Ugurhan Berkok, a professor of politics and economics at the Royal Military College of Canada.  In an article printed in Metro in 2011, Berkok explains that the Halifax Shipyard is not equipped to build the combat systems, electronics and propulsion units and predicts that Lockeed Martin will do that work.

“Lockeed Martin is the world’s wealthiest arms manufacturer,” says Lorincz.  According to CNN, Lockeed Martin had revenues of over $46 billion in 2011. 

Money should be going to fight climate change and poverty, says Lorincz, not to a weapons manufacturer.  Yet, she says, “Not one MP stood up and said this money should be spend differently … The Conservative party, the Liberal party, the NDP and the Green party, have all come out in support of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.”

With all parties supporting the Strategy, and many Nova Scotians banking on the jobs being promised, Lorincz has decided to take a weekly stand, and is inviting others to join her.   

“I feel like personally this is such an important issue, that I really needed to do something.  If I can't get the broader support that I need right now, then I'm just going to show personal leadership on this.  I'm just going to go and hopefully I'll get more and more people to wake up to this issue, to support me and to stop the building of the warships.”

Wednesdays Against Warships happens every week from noon until one outside the Iriving Shipyard (3099 Barrington St).  Check out demilitarize.ca for more information.  

To listen to an interview with Tamara Lorincz, click here. 

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888 words

Comments

A better way to spend stolen money?

While I may agree in spirit with the anti-warship message inside this article, I usually find hard to swollow when it comes attached to 'better ways to spend tax dollars', as if the only issue at play was the misplacement, misdirection or waste of tax dollars.

I respectfully suggest that if you want larger support for the anti-warship message and protest, that you, instead of advocating for what you believe is the appropriate use of MY MONEY, that you advocate returning stolen money to those who rightfully earned it, and allow them to use it as they see fit.  Otherwise, you come off as just another group of collectivist wanting their hands on the control of public funds to driect as you see fit.

Public money, only becomes public when it has been stolen from individuals by a group oppressing them and threatening them with violence if the demands are not met.  Are you finding yourself in that camp?

On a side note, it is mentioned that Naval forces are a useless investment.  Again while I may agree in spirit, one must recocognize that countries who don't play ball on the world stage attract unwanted attention.  World powers were made and are now defended with Naval forces, to suggest otherwise shows a very narrow view of history.  I have no problem with spending money, collectively, on self defence.  I'm totally down for that, and I'll even train up in order to be able to defend my community should the unlikely happen.  However, this whole sceneario also requires consent and voluntary action.  In a world where insane people whold the reigns of power in almost every country I'd suggest voluntary action on this front IS NEEDED, for defence only and by consent only.

According to Lorincz "Money should be going to fight climate change and poverty, not to a weapons manufacturer."  and that “Not one MP stood up and said this money should be spend differently … The Conservative party, the Liberal party, the NDP and the Green party, have all come out in support of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.”

1) Climates change, its the nature of nature.  Your assertion that money can solve problems in the natural world or that you can control the weather are patently absurd.  Maybe you should devote Tuesdays to researching the actual data for that theory which you claim to believe in. 

2) Are you actually surprised that 4 groups of theives all tihnk alike and support eachother when their interests align? 

3) Robinhood like shenanigans in a welfare state do not fix poverty, they drain the human spirit of its generocity and the empathy to help others.  Once your expendable income is stolen and redistributed what energy and resources does that leave people for effecting change in the lives of those who they see suffering in their world on a daily basis.  None.  The efficacy of generocity is stolen from the individual and only breeds contempt for those who stole it and for those who I will never meet who may or may not be using or deserve my hard earned labor to bring themselves out of poverty.  Some people like their poverty.  People are generous, let them be who they are on their own terms and in their own communities.  Where my money goes, should be up to me, me and no one else.

Goodday.

Some information for your approval.

Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project squared off against The Heartland Institute in a global warming debate January 8 in Tallahassee, Florida. More than 260 people attended the hour-long debate, which resulted in standing room only at the Tallahassee Elks Club Lodge, which hosted the debate.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=m2gXv3GH3Us

Weather and climate commentary confirms that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing
http://drtimball.com/2013/weather-and-climate-commentary-confirms-that-a...

 

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