Letter to War Minister Art Eggleton Informing him of Impending Renovations to the War Dept.

Homes not Bombs

Because Canada should build homes, not blow them up

P.O. Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West

Toronto, ON M6C 1C0

(416) 651-5800; tasc@web.net

September 16, 1999

(original to follow by mail)

Art Eggleton

Minister of War


101 Colonel-By Drive

Ottawa, ON

Dear Art Eggleton,

We are writing to inform you of renovations which will be taking place on Friday, November 12 at the War Dept., 101 Colonel By Drive, in Ottawa (for clarification's sake, you generally refer to this building as the Dept. of National Defence, though its activities -- bombing, armed enforcement of punitive sanctions, participation in assaults on other sovereign nations from Nitassinan to Yugoslavia -- are, we feel, more appropriately described by the term war.

We would ask that you and all employees of the building stay home that day, as building inspectors and architectural teams trained in nonviolence will be fanning out through the edifice to begin plans for the building's transformation to the Dept. of Housing.

We hope by the end of the day to have the building completely transformed to the Ministry of Housing. We invite those employees loathe to take the day off to join our alternative street fair which will occupy the Mackenzie Bridge on November 12. There, employees will learn about day cares, affordable home construction, health care, education, and other aspects of civil society that are currently starved because the Dept. of War sucks up the largest amount of discretionary funding in Ottawa's annual budget, some $10 billion. We also plan to offer support to soldiers who have been exposed to toxic poisons while on duty and who are seeking some form of compensation and justice.

The reasons for the renovation are simple. As things currently stand, your building does not fall within the United Nations building codes which stipulate that all governments must make every effort to continuously improve the social, economic and environmental lot of their citizens. Any department, program, institution or building which prevents this from occurring, such as yours, is in contravention of Canada's commitments to uphold these obligations, and must therefore be changed.

Furthermore, we are concerned that while people die on the streets and in the hospital hallways of this nation for want of accessible and affordable housing and health care, the fruits of your work result in the deaths of people abroad, as we continue to see in the former Yugoslavia and Iraq.

You have said on more than one occasion that Canada wants peace, but a nation which prepares for war as strenuously as ours will only find itself continually participating in wars. Indeed, from war training over the Innu homelands of Nitassinan to allowing the U.S. nuclear navy to test its missiles at Nanoose Bay, Canada is first and foremost an aider and abettor of wars (placing us in violation of the Nuremberg Principles, which state that crimes against peace include "planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances.")

Canada's CF-18s now drop "smart" bombs and carry 20-mm cannons capable of firing 6,000 rounds a minute, hardly the stuff which makes for peace and social justice. Our ongoing arms trade and huge subsidies to war industries are a blot on our nation, equally as unjust as the conditions which have led the UN to condemn our lack of progress on housing, day care, and income inequality.

Ottawa is cold in November, and the last thing we want is to be shivering outside all day conducting our renovation work. We hope you will cooperate with this matter and discuss with us our plan to convert the building. Given the fact that we do not want to replace any of the jobs currently in operation, we are happy to consider you for the post of Minister of Housing, a position far more beneficial to humanity at home and abroad than the moniker you wear now.

As a gesture of good faith, we hope you will take two immediate steps to begin this transformation. The first is to endorse and support the implementation of the 1% Solution and a National Housing Strategy. Ottawa currently spends about 1% of its total budget on housing. A mere increase of 1% of the total budget for new construction of affordable housing, renovation of existing units, support programs, and subsidies for people on low incomes would go far towards ending homelessness in 3-5 years. MP Libby Davies' Motion M-604 will be discussed by the House this fall; your support of the motion is crucial.

Just as important, you and your government need to reject participation in the Star Wars Nuclear First Strike Program (aka the Anti-Ballistic Missile "defence"), a program which already has China, Russia, and other world powers intensely nervous. It is described by one of its former designers as "the missing link to a [nuclear] first strike." The Ottawa Citizen reports Canada's commitment to Star Wars could total at least $635 million, funds which would be better spent on desperately needed social programs.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the renovations, you can feel free to contact us at any of the above numbers.

Looking forward to your cooperation in this important statement on transforming Canada to a peace economy.


mandy hiscocks, Guelph

Randy Kay, Dundas

Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko, Dundas

Andrea Towler, Hamilton

Susan Breeze, Windsor

Sheila Howlett, Peterborough

Janis Dahl, Ottawa

Matthew Behrens, Toronto

Shelley Porteous, Hamilton

Floyd Howlett, Peterborough

Scott Neigh, Hamilton

Kevin Shimmin, Toronto

Murray Lumley. Ancaster

Laurel Smith, Toronto

Linda Lumley, Ancaster

Dr. Robert Kent, Windsor

Andrew Loucks, Hamilton

William Taylor, Toronto

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