Dr. Brendan Martin, a 70-year-old family physician in Langley, is refusing food in a fight against the Trudeau government’s plan to buy 88 new fighter jets for $19 billion.
Together with Vanessa Lanteigne, coordinator at Canadian Voice of Women for Peace in Toronto, the pair began their fast on April 10.
Public vigils and online candlelight ceremonies were held coast to coast that day to object to the defence procurement.
Martin explained that his motives for the hunger strike was due to his belief that the federal government should not invest in fighter jets but instead invest in tackling the climate emergency, ending homelessness, and providing safe drinking water for First Nations communities.
He told the Aldergrove Star that it was “a bit touchy” starting out and that the first week was the hardest, but now he’s getting better at it.
“I’ve never taken this amount of time off of work before and thought to use it to make a difference,” he explained. “I’ve been lying down a lot to conserve energy, but I’m still able to do the odd task.”
The fast was organized by the “No Fighter Jets Coalition,” which is comprised of peace, justice, and faith groups across Canada.
Organizers do not want the government to buy any new fighter jets given that they are unnecessary, harm people, and exacerbate the climate crisis.
“Most people are unaware this is happening and if our government purchases the fighter jets, I see it only as a declaration of war,” Martin noted.
The coalition has also released an Open Letter to Pope Francis to seek his spiritual support for their campaign and fasters.
In his Easter address this year, Pope Francis said the pandemic is still spreading, while the social and economic crisis remains severe, especially for the poor.
“Nonetheless – and this is scandalous – armed conflicts have not ended, and military arsenals are being strengthened,” Pope Francis stated.
The coalition claims that new fighter jets are fiscally irresponsible when the federal government is running a $268-billion deficit due to the pandemic.
The fast is also timed to coincide with launch of the annual Global Campaign Against Military Spending led by the International Peace Bureau.
“Ordinary Canadians can make a tremendous amount of difference by getting involved so we’re not wasting people’s lives by sending them off to fight in war and having them coming back with PTSD or taking their own lives,” Martin added.
He said people can make a difference by writing to their Members of Parliament.
“It only takes two lines and postage is free. All you have to do is write “Do not purchase the fighter jets. Please speak up in Parliament against this purchase,” he explained.
Martin will end his hunger strike on Saturday, April 24, after two weeks of fasting to raise awareness for the cause.
More information can be found at nofighterjets.ca.
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