Canadian Navy sails with US Empire into War, Environmental Disaster

Ottawa is hellbent on supporting the US empire’s drive for global domination even if it increases the odds of war and undermines the cooperation required to overcome the climate crisis. Canada’s defence minister is boasting about the navy’s continued support for Washington’s bid to stoke tensions with China 8,000 kilometers from this country’s shores.

On Monday Anita Anand tweeted, “Canada is a Pacific nation and believes in the importance of the Indo-Pacific region to global stability and prosperity. Today, we announce that HMCS Vancouver and Winnipeg will remain deployed in the Indo-Pacific until December 2022.” Canada’s defence minister linked to a press release on the deployment noting, “the two frigates sailed across the Pacific together to Hawaii, and are now proceeding independently, with HMCS Winnipeg to South East Asia and HMCS Vancouver to North East Asia. They will also sail in the international waters of the East and South China Seas, both independently and as part of cooperative deployments with allied and partner nations.”

Canadian vessels and aircraft are increasingly present near China’s territorial waters and airspace. Canadian vessels have been running belligerent “freedom of navigation” exercises through international waters Beijing claims in the South China Sea as well as the Taiwan Strait.

It’s pathological to stoke conflict at a time when cooperation between the two greatest greenhouse gas emitting nations is essential to mitigate the climate crisis. And when we are already involved in a proxy war with Russia.

A recent Canadian Press story complained that the RCN doesn’t have enough ships and sailors to simultaneously target Russia and China. “For the first time in eight years,” reported CP, “Canadian warships are not involved in either of two NATO naval task forces charged with patrolling European waters and defending against Russian threats.”

No Canadian frigate is participating in the NATO task forces as a result of the China focused deployments and Ottawa sending an additional warship to eastern Europe immediately after Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine. Still, “two smaller Kingston-class coastal defence vessels”, CP revealed halfway through the article, have been deployed on a NATO mission in Eastern Europe for “finding and clearing enemy mines.”

While Russia and China are in the RCN’s crosshairs today, the Canadian Navy has long enforced empire. Established in 1910, the RCN took over British Royal Navy bases in Esquimalt and Halifax. During the 1910–17 Mexican Revolution Canadian vessels were dispatched to protect British interests on the Pacific Coast and to El Salvador in 1932 to support a month-old military coup government that brutally suppressed a peasant and indigenous rebellion in El Salvador. Alongside US and UK vessels, Ottawa sent a ship to China in 1949 as Mao’s Communists were on the verge of victory in the country’s civil war. During the early 1950s Korean War the RCN bombed North Korean and Chinese troops. More recently Canadian naval vessels were deployed to wars in Libya, Yugoslavia and Iraq (1991 and 2003). While not officially part of US President George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” that invaded in 2003, Canadian naval vessels led the maritime interdiction efforts off the coast of Iraq and as a result Ottawa actually had legal opinion suggesting it was technically at war with that country.

The Canadian government is currently spending huge sums to expand the RCN’s capacity to scare China, Russia, Iran and whoever is the enemy of the day. They are purchasing 15 surface combatants for a whopping $100 billion ($300 billion over their life cycle). The surface combatants look set to be equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of striking land targets up to 1,700 kilometres away and with radar systems that will allow US officials to launch the weapons. Designed to fight in US and NATO led wars, the new vessels will increase the navy’s capability to project power anywhere on the planet, the very same planet that is in desperate need of cooperation to reduce the threat of global warming and other environmental disasters.

Anti-war activists and environmentalists must come together to oppose this expansion and move to abolish a Royal Canadian Navy that will entangle us in US conflicts and distract the world’s people from our most important battle, mitigating climate change.

Yves Engler is the author of 12 books. His latest book is Stand on Guard for Whom?: A People's History of the Canadian Military . Read other articles by Yves.