While workers are forced to prepare for the coming austerity agenda imposed by the world’s leading capitalist states—threatening to reverse reforms gained through struggle over the last half-century—the Harper Conservative government announced the purchase of 65 F-35 Joint Strike fighter planes, estimated to cost over $16-billion. This only highlights the priorities of the ruling class. Just as governments are demanding workers pay for the economic crisis, they find enough money to dump billions of dollars in the name of future imperialist adventures.

Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has criticized the government’s purchase of the fighter jets, but for the completely wrong reasons. Ignatieff’s criticisms are based around the single source nature of the contract procurement process, criticizing the lack of a competitive bid for Canada’s next generation of fighters. Ignatieff is not criticizing the Tories for having wasted this money, at a time when they are crying poor, however. It was the Liberal Party that initially helped to fund the Joint Strike Fighter program (along with nine other countries), and spent $475-million to help kick-start the project. This only highlights the lack of difference between the Conservatives and Liberals, two sides of the same coin. This is an important lesson for the labour movement, especially some of the labour leaders who attempt to pass off the Liberals as a so-called “progressive” option to the imperialist agenda.

Besides being an absolute waste of money, the purchase of these planes will only go to killing more people overseas in the defence of Canadian imperialist interests. The only way that the purchase of the planes can be justified is if the Canadian government is already planning to increase participation in the future invasion of foreign countries. It is equipped with special structural plating, which allows it to operate invisible to radar. It is capable of carrying an armament of over 2,000 lbs of bombs and missiles. With this, the F-35 is appropriately defined as a long-range tactical bomber and aerial fighter, with close air ground capability. The idea that the F-35 is designed solely for national defence, in an age of insurgent warfare, is ludicrous; in an article in the Toronto Star, Leonard Johnson, a retired major-general in the air force and a former commandant at the National Defence College in Kingston went so far as to say, “It’s hard to see any useful military role for the F-35.” Its design is clearly for the deployment of war overseas.

Repeatedly, the ruling class tells workers that it would be fiscally reckless to adopt (and maintain) the most modest of reforms. We are told that there is no money for free education, no money for free quality public transit, no money for affordable housing, no money for better healthcare or pensions, no money for quality jobs. Yet, there is an extra $16-billion lying around that can be put to no better use, apparently, than the killing of innocent civilians in countries like Afghanistan.

The Tories insist that it is in the national interest to invest in military warfare, instead of investing in social programs. The ruling class has learned from history to never waste a good crisis, such as the current one. With billions of dollars spent to bail out the bosses, the capitalist class has intentionally sought to use this deficit as a pretext to dismantle the gains made by the working class. In the meantime, in the name of the “national interest,” the capitalists have taken the opportunity for an unprecedented expansion of the Canadian armed forces, costing tens of billions of dollars, to protect Canadian imperialist interests overseas.

In the face of at least a $47-billion deficit, workers should be outraged at this military procurement, especially as it is going to be us who are going to have to shoulder the costs. We need to be demanding for that money to be spent on programs and services that will benefit our lives, not to killing people overseas! The federal NDP should vociferously denounce this waste of money, as well as calling for no support to Canadian imperialist adventures.

Fund programs and services for the good of workers!

No money to Canadian imperialism!