Protesters pan plane purchase

Activists protest F-35 contract

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Protesters stand outside the Stadacona base gate on Gottingen. Photo by: Amy Crofts

While the sun was rising on Halifax this morning, two members of the Halifax Peace Coalition braved -16 C weather to raise their banner in protest at the Stadacona base.

The women were protesting against a $29.3-billion contract the Canadian government has with U.S. weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

The contract will allow the Canadian military to build 65 new stealth fighter jets called F-35s.

"We believe this is wrong," said Tamara Lorincz, also noting the Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard's impending $25-million federal contract to build 21 military vessels.

The Halifax Peace Coalition was established in 2002-03 to protest the Iraq War. It continues to work with other organizations on peace and social justice issues.

"We believe that the priorities of Canadians are health, education, and the environment," said Lorincz. "And you know we're facing a climate crisis we need to be spending this money on transitioning our economy and society."

Fighting the bitter cold, the protesters chose today because it is Martin Luther King Jr. day. The third Monday of January is dedicated to the man who was also an advocate in peace, non-violence and non-militarism.

His message, Lorincz says, is still relevant today with militarism even more prevalent today than in King's era.

"There's a serious problem that we have this kind of influence from a U.S. weapons manufacturer on our military. There shouldn't be this kind of cozy relationship between U.S. weapons manufacturers and the Canadian military, its wrong," she says.

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F-35 lighting II Photo courtesy: United States Marine Corps via Flickr

The federal government has also faced criticism for the purchase of the F-35s from the opposition who disagreed with looking at only one source for the contract.

There are also concerns about the increasing estimates of the purchase and maintenance of the air craft.

Initial estimates by the Harper government suggested the costs would be around $16-billion. However, since then, a report by the parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page suggests the costs will more likely be closer to $30-billion.

Delivery for the fighter jets is set to begin in 2016, as the current CF-18s will become out of date between 2017 and 2020.

Other countries that have or are looking to purchase F-35s include Australia, Japan, Singapore, Israel, Turkey and South Korea.

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I find it interesting that this article mentions Tamara Lorincz but doesn't give any information about who she is. Considering she ran in the federal election in 2008 as a member of the NDP but is now no longer affiliated with any political party. On her website http://www.tamaralorincz.ca/ she has a letter explaining her actions and some of the issues she is passionate about.

Posted by JB | Jan 17, 2022