Thursday, 31 January 2013

Halifax Warship Protester at Parliament

A Halifax peace activist, who has been protesting the $35 billion National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) outside the Irving Shipyard for months, took the message to Ottawa.

The NSPS costs 54% more than the entire 2012 Canada defence budget of $22.8 billion! See Table 1, Public Accounts of Canada, Volume II, 2012.

On January 25th, Tamara Lorincz stood in front the eternal flame of Canada's Parliament at noon with her signs: 'No Warships, Green Jobs Now' and 'Action on Poverty and Climate Change, No Warships'. I joined her protest and got 14 photos.

Lorincz also delivered open letters to all the political leaders: Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair, Bob Rae and Elizabeth May, calling on them to reverse their support for the warship contract. 'Sadly,' she says, all four political parties have supported the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy'. Those letters are posted on Lorincz's web site

The National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy is the largest defence procurement in Canadian history. Lorincz believes that the federal government should be spending Canadian tax dollars on urgent social and environmental needs not on warships. Lorincz predicts that the warship contract will be 'in much worse' financial risk than the stealth fighter fiasco F-35.

Over the past year, Lorincz has written letters to the editor, met with Members of Parliament, handed out hundreds of fact sheets, organised events to denounce Canada's Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, but realized that it wasn't enough. So, beginning on December 19, 2012, she decided to protest every Wednesday from 12:00-1:00 p.m., at the entrance to Irving Shipyard, while it is still light and while her two boys (6 and 8) are in school. See: Wednesdays Against Warships Blog.

With signs in hand, she got the attention of the Chronicle Herald, which published a picture of her next day. In her December 22nd posting, Tamara Lorincz wrote:
  • I was really glad to be out there standing for peace even in the cold, pouring rain. I thought about the brave women and men on Jeju Island, South Korea who have been arrested, threatened and imprisoned trying to stop the building of a naval base on their UNESCO world heritage island. Go to their web site to learn more about their brave five year struggle Save Jeju Now. I thought of my friends in the Global Network Against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space who protest every week outside the shipyard in Bath, Maine that manufactures the Aegis destroyers for the U.S. I thought of my friends in England with the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases. They have protested against the American spy base Menwith Hill for 20 years. I thought of the committed folks in Wolfville who stand for peace outside the post office every Saturday. They just passed their 10-year anniversary!
  • I'm in solidarity with all the courageous and compassionate people in the world who are striving for a world without weapons and war and who want to create a culture of peace and sustainability.
Tamara Lorincz is a small lady, a lawyer and environmentalist, with a strong elegant voice. She has degrees in business and law, certificates in Environmental Law and Environmental Management. She is a member of the Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace, the Halifax Peace Coalition, the Ecology Action Centre, Sierra Club of Canada-Atlantic Chapter; and is on the national board of the Canadian Voice of Women, and on the international advisory committee of the Global Network Against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space with Dr. Helen Caldicott.

I first met Tamara Lorincz May 27-28, 2009 at Lansdowne Park, Ottawa, where a peace coalition protested the holding of CANSEC — Canada's largest arms bazaar. Lorincz was there with her sign 'Canada's War in Afghanistan — Illegal and Immoral'. I wrote about her as a person who persistently and courageously expressed her heart-felt rage by confronting from the sidelines military, embassy, business and other persons who entered the gates of CANSEC with the following:
  • 'The arms show is a racket. It is a sham!'
  • 'It's bad for the kids and it's bad for the environment, and it should be shut down.'
  • 'The arms show is wrong! This is a shameful racket!'
At the most recent protest on Parliament Hill, Lorincz and I stood for one hour for peace in very cold weather, with only several people coming by. Four young people stopped briefly as well as a Global TV cameraman who interviewed her. 

When asked why she persists when so few people come around, Tamara Lorincz said that her conscience leaves her with no other choice. Like Martin Luther King Jr. on his Beyond Vietnam speech April 4, 1967, she felt that 'a time comes when silence is betrayal'.

See her 11-minute video talk at: Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, Cachcia Hall, Merrimack College, North Andover, Massachusetts USA, June 18, 2011.

Listen to her 9-minute radio interview: Wednesdays against Warships protest, 'Maritime Morning' with Jordi Morgan, 95.7 FM , January 2, 2013. She explains that big money spent in the U.S. could employ many more Canadians to repair our infrastructure and provide early education to develop our future generations. 'Tackling climate change and tackling poverty — those should be our priorities.' Discussion follows.

Hear a longer interview online: No to War Ships, Yes to Climate Action and Affordable Housing: An Interview with Tamara Lorincz, (23 minutes, audio file type: ogg) January 15, 2013

The message is clear. The building of combat warships must stop and alternatives must be found for militarism and military spending. [How about the Canadian Dept. of Peace Initiative and Centre for Global Nonkilling?] 'Who is the 'enemy'? Why are the politicians creating an atmosphere of fear with their propaganda? Let's 'stop inventing enemies', as Robert C. Koehler wrote in an article about the U.S.A. on 'Controlling Lucifer'. Canada's Prime Minister Harper ought to know that the Cold War is over. Let's work together nonviolently with Russians, Norwegians, Americans and others in northern development.

In her website, Lorincz suggests that billions could be better spent on such human needs as affordable housing, mental health, post-secondary education, childcare, and renewable energy. She cites the former U.S. President General Dwight Eisenhower's 1953 critique of the military industrial complex which is still relevant today. The central threat to peace today is the production of military weapons of mass destruction, primarily for the benefit of the rich.

In sum, 'the federal government should sink the combat warship strategy,' she advised. Here, here!

By Tamara Lorincz

About Tamara Lorincz

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