Dear sisters, brothers, comrades and friends,
It is my pleasure to bring you solidarity greetings from the Canadian Peace Congress. We want to thank and congratulate our host, the Nepal Peace and Solidarity Council, for preparing this Assembly and allowing all of the peace and anti-imperialist forces of the world to gather for this important meeting. We also salute the people of Nepal, whose continued progressive struggle has brought about the change from a monarchy to the Federal Democratic Republic, along with many other important social and political developments in recent years.
As well, we want to thank the General Secretary and President of the WPC, for their committed and excellent leadership over the past 4 years since our last assembly in Caracas, and the Greek Peace Committee for continuing to provide the Executive Secretariat and headquarters.
This Assembly of the World Peace Council convenes at a critical moment for peace and progressive forces worldwide. Since our last Assembly in 2008, the global capitalist crisis has continued and deepened, and competition for resources, markets, influence and profits has grown much more fierce and desperate. In an effort to overcome the crisis and avoid economic collapse, capitalist countries are attacking the social, economic and political gains won by the working class over many decades of struggle.
Fighter Jet Program Also Used For Nuclear Weapons Development
Opposition to the Harper government’s proposal to purchase 65 F-35 fighter jets has been consistent and growing. Most of it is focused on the related issues of costs and corruption that are associated with the procurement. This is critically important – military spending should always be conducted in an open and transparent manner, and it must be justified in the context of broader public spending. In an era of high unemployment, deep cuts to social programs and harsh austerity programs that target working people, Harper’s intention of spending billions of dollars on fighter jets is thoroughly offensive, and it needs to be confronted and opposed by the largest possible mobilization of people.
The F-35 program is driven by the United States military and its NATO allies. In 1997, Canada signed onto the Joint Strike Fighter program, which was developed as a vehicle for the United States to capture international funding for a replacement jet fighter. Canada’s initial investment in 1997 was $10 million. In 2001 the JSF contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin, who developed what is now known as the F-35. By 2010, the international procurement process was underway and Stephen Harper announced that Canada would purchase 65 fighter jets, through an untendered purchase.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS) is in fact the foreign policy doctrine of the minority Conservative Government. CFDS is the manifesto of the most aggressive, chauvinistic and reactionary circles of Canadian finance capital seeking with a bigger military budget to strengthen its influence at the imperialist round tables in Washington and Brussels.
Prime Minister Harper flaunts military power as the sine qua non of Canadian diplomacy in international affairs. CFDS promotes the growth, modernization and combat readiness of the Canadian military and its interoperability with US military forces for one main reason, to commit Canada to current and future US-NATO wars, interventions and occupations as the first principle of Canadian government foreign policy. CFDS boasts of the experience gained by Canadian forces in Afghanistan as a “military that can operate far from home on a sustained basis”. According to Prime Minister Harper the ability to wage war is the path that will return Canada to the international stage as a “credible and influential country.”