A group of Collingwood-area residents has joined a national campaign to protest the planned purchase of fighter jets for the Canadian military.
Four members of the Collingwood-based Pivot2Peace group stood outside Simcoe-Grey MP Terry Dowdall’s Collingwood constituency office on Tuesday (Nov. 23) where they held up signs in protest of the pending fighter-jet purchase.
Canada-wide this week, many other groups are protesting outside of MP offices, ministers' offices and at Parliament in opposition to a plan to purchase 88 new fighter jets at an estimated cost of $19 billion up front and $77 billion over the lifecycle.
A Collingwood protester named Gillian said she sees the fighter-jet purchase as something worth fighting against.
“It’s so concrete, and the decision hasn’t been made yet,” she said. “It’s something that can be stopped and the money reallocated.”
Members of Pivot2Peace protest once a month in the same spot, and have been since last year.
“We don’t need these jets,” said Gillian, noting the money should instead be allocated to addressing the climate crisis, preventing cyber attacks, and furthering reconciliation by bringing clean water to Indigenous communities.
She said there’s a lot of talk about the government supporting health care, reconciliation, and mitigating climate change, but military funding is higher than all of those issues when it comes to the federal budget.
The other members of the group of protesters included Frank McEnaney, as well as Peter and Paulette Dennis.
They pointed out the money could be better spent on helicopters and relief vehicles that could be required during natural disasters, such as the floods and fires that have destroyed life and homes in British Columbia.
The group left a letter for Dowdall with his office staff, asking him and the rest of the government to “take a hard look at the (jet) purchase, and not just vote out of loyalty to the military and our allies.”
“These jets would have really helped in 1939 during the London Blitz, but in today’s world they are outmoded,” noted the letter to Dowdall.
The federal government has promised the winning bid for the jets is expected to be announced in March or April next year. There are now three companies in the running to make the jets for Canada.
The federal government has defended the pending purchase as necessary for the protection of Canada and North America and for military operations abroad.
The Collingwood protest this week was part of a week of action organized by the No Fighter Jets Coalition (Pivot2Peace is a member), with rallies held in Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, Ottawa and Collingwood, Ont.; Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo, B.C.; Regina, Sask.; Halifax, N.S.; Edmunston, N.B.; Edmonton and Montreal.
Gillian said she was proud to see Collingwood among the list of much larger Canadian cities where rallies are being held.
“Our leader Helen Peacock (the founder of Pivot2Peace) always says it just takes three per cent of a population to really change things,” said Gillian. “Three per cent of 19,000 (the population of Collingwood) sounds doable. Let’s do it!”