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The controversial F-35 stealth fighter will be participating in its first Canadian International Air Show next weekend
With the Canadian military set to select a new fighter jet, the controversial F-35 stealth fighter will be participating in its first Canadian International Air Show next weekend.
As a father of a young child, I understand the appeal of some excitement in the sky, especially after the lockdown.
But flying warplanes over Lake Ontario is not innocent fun.
Since the establishment of the Royal Canadian Air Force a century ago the Department of National Defence has promoted airshows. The CF-18 Demonstration Team and Snowbirds, which will also be flying over Lake Ontario, seek to “inspire” support for an air force that has bombed Iraq, Serbia, Libya and Iraq/Syria over the past three decades. Many civilians were killed directly or due to the destruction of infrastructure.
As people seek to make sense of what’s happening in Afghanistan, it’s important to consider the death, destruction and enmity engendered by airstrikes.
The F-35 is a fighter jet that’s bombed Afghanistan. It is marketed as capable of releasing a B61 nuclear bomb. Toronto city council reaffirmed its commitment to Toronto being a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone in 2018 and, according to an April poll, 80 per cent of Canadians believe “the world should work to eliminate nuclear weapons.” Rather than something to celebrate, the F-35 is a testament to humanity’s predilection for ploughing its resources and ingenuity into perfecting the art of killing. What could the US $1.7 trillion spent on the stealth fighter project accomplish if channeled towards fighting infectious diseases or transitioning away from fossil fuels?
The F-35 is participating in this year’s airshow as part of Lockheed Martin’s push to win the contract to provide the RCAF with 88 new fighter jets. Despite promising not to purchase the fighter during the 2015 election, the Liberals have included the F-35 in the three-jet competition set to be decided in the coming months.
The No Fighter Jet coalition opposes the purchase. The Canadian Foreign Policy Institute released a public letter last month calling on Trudeau to scrap the $19 billion ($77 billion over their full lifecycle) purchase. The letter was signed by Canadian musicians Neil Young, Tegan and Sara and Sarah Harmer, as well as authors Michael Ondaatje, Gabor Maté and Yann Martel. The statement was also endorsed by environmentalists Naomi Klein and David Suzuki, as well as three sitting MPs, four former MPs and prominent international figures such as Roger Waters, Daryl Hannah and Noam Chomsky.
Thousands of Torontonians have fled countries that have been bombed by fighter jets in recent years. The sound of low-flying warplanes can be triggering for those who have experienced such violence. There is often an influx of 911 calls whenever fighter jets fly by urban areas.
Amidst a pandemic and intensifying climate crisis, Toronto’s waterfront shouldn’t serve as a stage to promote violent, incredibly expensive and environmentally destructive warplanes.
Yves Engler is the author of Stand On Guard For Whom? — A People’s History of the Canadian Military (Black Rose).