I am responding to a recent article in the March 11 issue: “More Canadian defence spending, more exports to U.S.”
David MacNaughton, Canada’s former ambassador to the United States, addressing the Canadian Crops Convention, suggests that if Canada spent more on defence it would pay dividends in trade with the U.S.
Surely Mr. MacNaughton must be aware of the incredible devastation of human lives, infrastructure and the environment caused by U.S. (and Canada’s) military intervention in places like Afghanistan, the Middle East and Libya to name a few.
More arms will only exacerbate the problem. Weapons tend to get used; to destroy. Past promotions of the arms trade have resulted in embarrassing dilemmas for Canada. The export of LAVs to Saudi Arabia, which have been used in the war in Yemen, is but one example. Today Yemen is a disaster and on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. Eighty per cent of the population, or over 24 million people, are in need of protection or assistance.
Mr. MacNaughton was addressing a Canadian agricultural audience. Our industry is in the business of producing life-giving food, which is exported around the world. Do we really need to connect our industry to the arms trade? Life-giving food linked to weapons designed to destroy life?
The United Nations estimates that $30 billion a year could end world hunger — roughly an amount equal to Canada’s annual military budget. Imagine the possibilities and the friends Canada could gain around the world if serious efforts went into reducing hunger rather than spending more money for destructive purposes. We need to remember that in war there are direct victims, but the No. 1 way in which war preparation and war kills is by taking funding away from life-saving activities.
Perhaps next time around the Canadian Crops Convention could consider inviting a representative from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to stir our collective imagination towards life-saving efforts, rather than promoting the war industry.