Tom Boland (
Thu, 1 Apr 1999 16:32:13 -0800 (PST)

Would a HOMES NOT BOMBS campaign be worth launching in the USA too?

See below for a Canadian proposal:

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FWD  CC Replies To: "Toronto Action for Social Change" <>

[We want your feedback!
Please send comments, suggestions, additional facts which you think might
be of interest to: Homes Not Bombs, P.O. Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. W.,
Toronto, Ont., M6C 1C0, email: <>, phone: (416) 651-5800. We hope
to launch this campaign publicly in late May or early June of 1999.]

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 1999 13:00:11 -0800
From: Howard Breen <>

From: (L. Smith/M. Behrens)

Enclosed is an action proposal linking the issues of military spending and
poverty in Canada. We hope you can take some time to review it, pass it
along to like-minded folks, and get back to us with your thoughts. We're
trying to guage the amount of interest and the possibility of getting
affinity groups from most cities, or at least PIRGs, to go to Ottawa in

Please let us know what you think

Matthew Behrens

Canada's Choice:
To Build Homes...
"The Committee [United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights] is gravely concerned that such a wealthy country as Canada has
allowed the problem of homelessness and inadequate housing to grow to such
proportions that the mayors of Canada's ten largest cities have now
declared homelessness a national disaster...The Committee recommends that
the federal, provincial and territorial governments address homelessness
and inadequate housing as a national emergency by reinstating or
increasing, as the case may be, social housing programmes for those in
need...[and] to implement a national strategy for the reduction of
homelessness and poverty."

- United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
evaluating Canada's lack of progress, 1998.

...or to Blow Them Up
"The Canadian Forces can hurl more raw firepower at a potential enemy today
than they could during the Persian Gulf War...Since the gulf war, all three
services have increased their 'combat capability' (the wherewithal to
inflict heavy damage on the enemy), said Major-General Kenneth Pennie,
director-general of strategic planning for the Canadian Forces. The
equipment includes new frigates for the navy, armoured vehicles for the
army and high-tech 'smart' bombs for the air force. Given the improved
accuracy, Gen. Pennie said, 'we find that some conventional weapons can be
more useful than nuclear weapons.'"
- Globe and Mail, March 10, 1999
Canada currently spends over 400% more on its military than it does on

************************DRAFT PROPOSAL******************************

Converting Canada From a War Economy to a Peace Economy
Canada currently spends over 400% more on its military than it does on
housing, and the federal government has made no commitment to a national
housing strategy. Indeed, while Ottawa has, since 1984, taken steps to
completely eliminate any funding for new social housing, it has spent,
since 1980, over a quarter of a trillion dollars on war.
Like the U.S., which is now proposing the largest military spending
increase since the election of Ronald Reagan, Canada continues to forge
ahead in combat preparation mode. Indeed, as Project Ploughshares points
out, "With major procurement programs emphasizing equipment of high
intensity combat, Canada's defence establishment remains bound to Cold War
categories...the Department of National Defence continues to prepare first
and foremost for war."

As with the U.S., Canada's percentage of monies spent on social housing is
dangerously low. About 5.5% of Canada's housing is non-market social
housing (compared with 2% in the U.S., 15% in France and Germany, 22% in
the U.K. and 40% in the Netherlands.)

While cities across the country, including Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto,
have declared the crisis of homelessness a national disaster, Ottawa
continues to use its largest block of "discretionary funding"- about $10
billion annually-to build fighter jets and participate in the U.S. Star
Wars program.

The dictionary describes discretionary as "left to one's own judgment." Yet
when scores of people are dying every year from homelessness in Canada, and
over 200,000 people are estimated to be homeless in this country (with
millions more in substandard housing), the federal government is obviously
showing poor judgment by absolving itself of housing responsibilities but
remaining committed to unnecessary and dangerous weapons programs?
By choosing to spend on weapons which kill abroad, the government is
choosing not to fund desperately needed programs at home, thus threatening
the lives of those unable to access affordable shelter, health care, and
other vital social services. Either way, Ottawa has blood on its hands.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates the cost of each new
unit of affordable housing to be $40,000. One year of spending on housing
what we currently spend on war would yield a quarter of a million new units
of affordable housing.

Homes Not Bombs is a campaign based on a complete shift in Canada's
national priorities, challenging the myths of militarism and the myths
about where poverty comes from. Both are institutional creations, created
and sustained by the Canadian corporate power structure and perpetuated by
willing governments at all levels.

We believe a first step in changing our national priorities is converting
the War Department to the Housing Department. Just as we wish to see the
Canadian government end its military enforcement of sanctions against the
Iraqi people, we want the federal government to end its sanctions against
the 5 million-plus Canadians forced to live in poverty while Canada plays
host to the highest rate of billionaires-per-capita in the world.

Indeed, in 1996, Statistics Canada estimated it would take only $18.6
billion to bring every Canadian out of poverty, less than what the War
Department spends in a two-year period. Yet given the choice of where to
spend, Ottawa has made it clear-guns, not butter, bombs, not homes. For
example, the federal government pays for the military enforcement of Iraqi
starvation and the ongoing destructive war training over Innu lands off the
backs of Canada's hungry and homeless.

Canada recently scored poorly in an assessment of economic, social and
politics rights at the United Nations. It is unclear how Canada can claim
any moral weight judging the actions of other nations when its own house is
in such disarray.

It is everyone's human right to have access to decent food, shelter, and
employment. Yet the government claims there is not enough money in the till
for programs to guarantee these rights. The government's choice of ignoring
these human rights in favour of an annual 10 billion outlay on the military
merely entrenches this injustice.

Clearly, what is missing is not the financial capacity to meet these
important goals, but the political will. As Martin Luther King and others
pointed out time and again during the civil rights movement of the 1950s
and 1960s, when governments refuse to meet the basic human needs of their
people, it is up to all people of good conscience to engage in campaigns of
nonviolent resistance that create a moral climate in which government
policies of neglect and abandonment are no longer possible.

Such campaigns are also deigned to awaken the sleeping conscience of a
nation, urging those who have been silent to speak up and, with united
voices, support and work for real action to achieve social justice.
TAKING ACTION: A Pledge of Resistance to War and Poverty
The goal of Homes Not Bombs is to link these two vital issues together
through outreach and education, letter-writing, vigils, and non-violent
civil disobedience. Included in our work is a demand for, at the very
least, implementation of the widely-endorsed 1% solution to solving
homelessness (whereby all levels of government increase by 1% that portion
of their budgets currently spent on housing to eliminate homelessness
within 5 years). We are also organizing a significant act of civil
disobedience, a nonviolent blockade of the War Department this November
with the symbolic aim of converting the building into the Housing
Department, training those within to build-not blow up-homes.

We cannot tolerate another winter with scores of homeless people dying on
the streets of our cities. Nor can we tolerate the use of almost $10
billion in federal monies annually to prepare for war while millions suffer
the scourge of poverty in one of the wealthiest nations on the planet.
I therefore pledge to become part of the Homes Not Bombs conversion
program: to convert the War Dept. to the Housing Dept., to end Canada's
shameful participation in the business of war and to use those much-needed
resources for social programs to end poverty in this country and abroad.

1. I pledge to write to my MP and demand that immediate action be
taken to embark on a national program of affordable housing construction
and social assistance at livable levels. Further, I will call for an end to
the outrageous military spending on programs ranging from "Star Wars" to
the outfitting of fighter jets with "smart" bombs.
2. I will arrange a visit with my MP to discuss these issues and to
urge immediate action.
3. I will organize a vigil at my MP's office.
4. I will go to Ottawa where I will join a demonstration in early
November to convert the Department of War into the Department of Housing.
5. I commit myself to not only join the demonstration, but to take
part in an act of civil disobedience to transform the War Department. By
making this commitment, I pledge to have attended a training session in
non-violence in preparation for this action.

The campaign will also focus on the cancellation of significantly dangerous
wastes of money such as:
Canadian participation in Star Wars: $600,000,000+
Annual contribution to NORAD: $300 million
Upgrade 114 Leopard C1 main battle tanks, purchase of additional 123
Leopard tanks: $138.8 million
Armoured Combat Vehicle Project: $600,000,000 (at least)
Armoured Personnel Carrier Replacement Project: $2.04 billion
Helping CF-18s remain "a viable and survivable fighter (upgrades include
capacity to use Advanced Air-to-Air Weapons, air-to-surface "smart bombs"
and missiles: $1.175 billion
Maritime Helicopter Program (equipped with submarine detection and attack
systems): $2.3 billion
Frigate Equipment Life Extension (upgrade of combat systems) : $100
million at least
Very Short Range Air Defence System (to replace existing Javelin missile):
$100 million at least
Medium Indirect Fire System (upgrade to Army M109A4 self-propelled
howitzer): $100 million at least
Unmanned Airborne Surveillance and Target Acquisition System: $50 million
Participation in US Joint Strike Fighter Program: Untold millions

Resources for more information on military spending and the crisis of
homelessness (these organizations, though listed as good resources, have
not necessarily endorsed this campaign):
Project Ploughshares
Address, website
Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade
National Disaster Relief Committee
Cooperative Housing federation of Canada

We want your feedback!
Please send comments, suggestions, additional facts which you think might
be of interest to: Homes Not Bombs, P.O. Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. W.,
Toronto, Ont., M6C 1C0, email: <>, phone: (416) 651-5800. We hope
to launch this campaign publicly in late May or early June of 1999.



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