It was cold, very windy, and pounding down freezing rain. I didn’t want to be outside protesting, but I made a commitment, so I had to stand outside the shipyard. I was alone today in this terrible weather. It made me think about extreme weather that will become more frequent with catastrophic global warming we are facing. Humanity is at critical juncture now.
I thought about the big climate justice rally organized by 350.org that was held a few days earlier in Washington D.C. On February 17, the largest climate protest in U.S. history was held outside the White House. Approximately 50,000 protesters gathered to tell President Obama to take action on climate change and to not allow the Keystone XL pipeline that would take Alberta tar sands oil to Texas refineries. Watch this Al Jazeera’s coverage of this important rally.
I believe we have a choice at this juncture that we are at: we are either going to spend our time and resources trying to live harmoniously on a sustainable planet or we are going to kill each other on a dying planet. Warships lead us on down the wrong path.
I got 5 honks and 1 finger.
Trip to Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s Office in New Glasgow and Conservative MP Scott Armstrong’s Office in Truro
I knew that Parliament was not sitting this week, so I expected that the Members of Parliament would be back in their ridings. It’s also budget time and the federal politicians are seeking economic input from their constituents. On Minister MacKay’s web site, he claims to be “inviting comments on how to further improve the effectiveness of government spending.” MP Armstrong wants to “engag[e] Canadians in discussions about their priorities and ideas for achieving the best use of taxpayers’ dollars in the lead-up to the 2013 budget.”
So, a good opportunity to visit Minister of Defence Peter MacKay at his office in New Glasgow and Conservative MP Scott Armstrong at his office in Truro!
I prepared and delivered open letters to Minister MacKay and MP Armstrong about my opposition to the $25 billion warships. My letters listed my economic priorities: education, the environment, health care, affordable housing, municipal infrastructure and First Nations’ communities. I also explained how our country could put more Canadians to work and strengthen our economy by greening it.I reminded them that our country’s national debt has increased to $606 billion and the annual deficit is now $26 billion. One way to reduce the national debt and the annual deficit is to not spend money on things that our country doesn’t need, like warships,and that are not priorities for Canadians. The letters are posted on my demilitarize.ca web site.
I drove up to New Glasgow with friends Allan and Dawn. It was great to have their company and their help with the signs. When we arrived in New Glasgow, three media people were waiting for us. After the media interviews, we went inside MacKay’s office. I talked with one of his staff members who told me that MacKay was out of the country. I presented her with my open letter and explained my opposition to the warship contract and my concern about military spending. I also reminded her that I was at the office three years ago to protest the F-35s and that I was proven right by the Parliamentary Budget Office, the Auditor-General and KMPG that the stealth fighters were a financial risk to taxpayers. I promised her that I would be right again about the warships – they would turn out to be an even bigger boondoggle. I also gave her copies of two petitions – one with the signatures of almost 500 Canadians who want the federal government to redirect military spending to tackle urgent environmental and social needs and the other one petition with the signatures of almost 300 Canadians who are opposed to the federal government spending money on new stealth fighters. After our meeting in the office, we went outside to protest along East River Road. I was so heartened to receive quite a few honks and waves (11 in total) and no negativity. People in New Glasgow understand that warships aren’t good for rural communities!
Then, we drove up to Truro to meet with Conservative MP Scott Armstrong. Armstrong was in his office at the time, but refused to come out to meet us briefly in the lobby. We were so pleased that a radio station showed up for an interview. Inside the office again, I presented our open letter to his assistant who seemed distracted and uninterested. We went back outside to the Willow Street sidewalk to protest for a while and I was happy to have a few more honks (7 honks and waves of support, no negativity. People in Truro get it!). We tried again to meet with Armstrong but he still would not meet us. Somebody leaving Armstrong’s office, asked about our signs and told us that she was a Reformer (former Reform Party member) and that Canada should have warships to protect its sovereignty in the Arctic. I told her that we don’t need warships and that we have international law and diplomacy under the UN to solve any sovereignty disputes. It is in fact what Canada is using right now to solve our dispute with Russia in the Arctic Ocean. She disparaged the UN. I figured that if she was a Reformer that she would also be a right-wing evangelical. So, as we were departing, I told her that I didn’t believe that Jesus would use warships.