Vigilance: Government resumes militarist spectacles

Oppose the Militarization of Culture! Make Canada a Zone for Peace!

Four days after the election and the Afghan debacle before that, the Canadian Forces is launching yet another U.S.-style militarist spectacle, a “flyby” over a Canadian Football League (CFL) game featuring an “appreciation” of the military and war and its brutality. The spectacle is co-sponsored by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), the latest owner of the CFL franchise Argonaut franchise of the CFL. This oligopoly also owns Raptors of the NBA cartel, Maple Leafs of the NHL cartel, Toronto FC of the MLS cartel, Scotiabank Centre, operator of BMO Field (owned by the City of Toronto), lucrative downtown real estate, cable TV channels, you name it.

The two majority owners of MLSE are the rich Bell and Rogers telecommunications oligopolies. Since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 in which the Canadian Forces participated, every member of the big U.S. sports cartels operating in Canada has embraced such a program. In Toronto, “Forces and Families Day” have become the norm in Scotiabank Arena, the Rogers Centre and BMO Field

On Labour Day, September 6, the RCAF Snowbirds overflew a CFL game held at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton known as the Labour Day Classic.

On October 3, MLSE staged a Military Appreciation Day at BMO Field during a soccer game between Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire.

On August 30, Pacific Command of the Royal Canadian Navy staged a “sail past” from Victoria to CFB Esquimalt in British Columbia for HMCS Calgary on its return from provocative exercises in the East China Sea, Australia (Talisman Sabre) and the Arabian Sea aimed at the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and China amongst others.

On September 7, Maritime Command staged a high-profile “sail past” and “fly past” for the NATO fleet assembled for the Cutlass Fury 21 war game off the coast of Nova Scotia to rehearse fleet tactics for the rapid transportation of troops and war materiel from North America to Europe. Nine Canadian warships and five warships from three NATO countries of the US, UK and France left dock, assembled in Bedford Basin and departed Halifax Harbour in a linear fashion. Royal Canadian Airforce aircraft including Cyclone helicopters, an Aurora as well as Alpha Jets passed over the ships as they departed the harbour.[1]

On September 5, anti-war activists held a protest at the Toronto annual air show featuring the RCAF Snowbirds held at the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds. The air show was a venue for weapons manufacturers to showcase their armaments, including Lockheed Martin, lead corporate sponsor, to advance its bid to sell its F-35 jet to the Canadian military and was broadcast live by 680 news. It was also a venue to promote the military’s role in the Covid pandemic, a public health crisis, codenamed Operations Inspiration (referring to the RCAF Snowbirds) and Laser (referring to the intervention of the military in the public health sector). Previously the Snowbirds participated in airshows in London, Ontario, Abbotsford, BC, and Camrose, Alberta.

Photo RU

The protestors denounced the promotion of war and its brutality as entertainment. They also denounced the activities of the Canadian government to constantly increase military spending for new weaponry, as part of its integration into the U.S. war machine. Protestors pointed out how the massive amounts of money spent in the service of war is not what Canadians want. This military spending must end and funding must be increased for health care, education and social programs that ensure the people’s well-being and programs that protect the natural environment.

These spectacles are being escalated at a time when the Canadian Forces is facing, amongst other issues, an increasingly serious recruitment problem. In February 2019, the Canadian Press reported on testimony by Commodore Steve Waddell, head of naval strategic readiness and currently Vice-Commander of the US Second Fleet, to a defence conference that “the navy is at least 10 per cent short of trained sailors [and] facing a shortfall of up to 40 per cent in some places when sailors it does have are unavailable because of training, medical problems or other reasons.” He said that “that the navy’s personnel shortages could threaten the Trudeau government’s ‘ambitious’ defence policy. That policy – entitled Strong, Secure, Engaged – says the military must be able to conduct several missions at the same time. It also sets aside billions of dollars for upgrades to the navy, including new warships and modernized submarines.” [2]

Further, on August 14 without any discussion with the public or even in Parliament, the Trudeau Liberal government issued a “Joint Statement on NORAD Modernization” with the U.S. Biden administration. NORAD, now known as the North American Aerospace Defense Command, puts the Royal Canadian Air Force and airspace under the control of USNORTHCOM of the U.S. armed forces. NORAD, along with NATO, integrates Canada into the U.S. war economy and strategy to wage endless wars for global hegemony. It brings Canadian forces under the command of the president of the United States.

The joint statement was issued on the eve of the Trudeau government’s launch of the pandemic election. Under the heading “Priority areas for new investments,” the joint statement devoted more than half its words to promoting investments in the U.S. war economy to pay the rich involved in the military industrial/financial complex in which Canada is now integrated.

The aggressive words of the joint statement read: “The stronger and safer we are at home, the more we are capable of engaging and acting together in the wider world, in support of a strong, rules-based international order” and in “maintaining North America as a secure base for active engagement around the world.” [3]

The “weaponization” of sport as a “national security priority”

The politicization of sport is a NATO programme. On June 7, 2021 the Atlantic Council of NATO, referring to Ukraine, called for the “weaponization” of sport as a “national security priority”: “The weaponization of the national football team’s Euro 2020 jerseys is an indication that Ukraine is learning to fight back, and is capable of doing so in an increasingly confident and creative manner.” The official jersey featured an image depicting Crimea as part of Ukraine and the slogan “Glory to Ukraine”, a historical fascist slogan akin to Sieg Hiel. [4] The NATO concept of “security” is clearly opposed to the fraternal interests of the peoples.

The crucial issue of opposing the militarization and politicization of sport, culture and public space must be taken up keeping in mind who controls sports and the decision-making processes. It is not simply that it is dictate by the sports empires hand in glove with the military brass let alone “macho culture”, but that this phenomena is demonstrating that the public events staged by these private monopolies are not consistent with the needs of the times. The privatization of sport and the exclusion of the masses of youth from participation in sport is also not consistent with the needs of the time. They are an obstruction to the people having the power to challenge the control of the financial oligarchy, which has subordinated sport to its self-serving ends, and a military and foreign policy which is blocking the exercise of the rights of the youth and the people and refusing to recognize their needs. None of these arrangements are going to serve their interests, which is why they are being opposed.

No Harbour for War!

Notes

1. “Major NATO military provocation in Halifax on Labour Day: No Harbour for War!,” Tony Seed, September 6, 2021

2. “Shortage of sailors causing a headache for the Royal Canadian Navy,” Lee Berthiaume, Canadian Press, February 14, 2019.

3. ‘Trudeau government signs warmongering Joint Statement with the United States,” Renewal Update, August 23, 2021. Link here

4. “Ukraine’s new football shirt leaves Russia furious,” UkraineAlert by Peter Dickinson, June 7, 2021.

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