Monday, November 26, 2007

Canadian Militarism

I think maybe it overemphasizes the role of arms-related profits in keeping us in Afghanistan, but it is still a pretty striking article. Here's a brief excerpt:

Though negligible in terms of its military power, Canada profits from war in many ways. To start, we have the dubious honour of being the sixth largest supplier of military goods in the world. Between 1997 and 2002, Canada’s military exports rose from $23 million to $678 million. Since then, according to a recent CBC investigation (1), Canada’s military exports have tripled. Though under the Export and Import Permits Act, the government is supposed to report its military exports to parliament, for the past four years – that’s three successive governments, two Liberal and one Conservative – that has not happened. Keeping this information from the public is a trend that cuts across party lines.

I have my doubts about the 1997 number in this paragraph -- seems a bit low to me -- but the fact that Canada is the "sixth largest supplier of military goods in the world", despite having a much smaller population than the countries I would expect to be ahead of us in the list, is -- well, it's a sad, awful thing.


the red toque said...

I too have doubts about the centrality to which the author attributes the war economy. It is, however, definitely an underlying system that lies in the way of important changes we seek. Because of this, it reminds me of Myrna Kostash's A Long Way From Home . Her history reminds us of purposeful Canadian economic entanglement in American imperialism - defence production sharing agreements being a key component. It also re-articulates Canadian opposition to this path.

I remember making posters in 2002 (pre-Iraq invasion) that spoke to Canadian militarism and independent foreign policy. I was saying similar things to folks in the 1960s Student Union for Peace Action. It is a strange, mixed feeling to be connected to the struggles of the past while realizing that, fundamentally, little has changed.

Scott said...


Yeah, I had similar moments reading that book. In fact, it was a weird mix of moments where the similarities of both the issues and some of the approaches were uncanny despite the fact that those of us three decades later knew nothing of SUPA and that history, along with moments of the opposite, where it really felt different and alien. At a more considered level, I'm kind of wary of the similarities, and of the orientation that some of the groups that were descended from SUPA took on the issue of Canadian wasn't by any means uniform, but there were important ways that it fed into a sort of left nationalism that I wouldn't want to dismiss out of hand but that I also have serious misgivings about.