The Canadian International Air Show has become an annual summer tradition – 73+ – and has therefore called for its abolition due to its potentially trauma-inducing effect on people with lived experience in war zones, as well as the environmental damage it can cause.
The show, which sees a number of fighter jets fly over Toronto during the final three days of the Canadian National Exhibition, aims to showcase the country’s military history while recognizing its military personnel and veterans and inspiring next generation of pilots. But critics say the show does more harm than good, both for the environment and for the people of the city center – some of whom are recent immigrants from countries with a history of war and new memories of bombings. aerial.
Dozens of activists are expected to take part in a protest against the air show this Sunday in downtown Toronto, carrying posters displaying anti-war messages, opposition to the use of fighter jets and calls to make Canada a “zone of peace”.
“The air show promotes the culture of war and financially supports the military-industrial complex here in Canada in many ways,” said Maya Garfinkel, an activist with World Beyond War, one of the groups participating in Sunday’s protest. .
Other advocacy groups such as No New Fighter Jets Coalition, Independent Jewish Voices, Defund the Police Fund Our Communities and Canadian Defenders for Human Rights are expected to participate in the protest.
Garfinkel said the show’s use of F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin, one of the show’s major sponsors, means promoting the use of their planes in wars across the world.
“These are the same types of planes that are used to kill people,” she said.
Additionally, Garfinkel said the roar of military aircraft over a city as multicultural as Toronto is distressing and quite harmful to veterans and those who have escaped from war zones to seek refuge here.
“They may have fallen victim to the types of planes flying overhead on this show, and I think that’s relevant right now when we have so many refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine who are resettled here,” she said.
“There’s nowhere to hide in downtown Toronto from these noises.”
On its website, the Canadian International Air Show says it is aware of safety and noise concerns and is working with regulators to comply with the rules.
In an emailed statement to the Star, air show spokeswoman Colleen McCourt said many Canadians continue to express their appreciation for the show.
“While we sympathize with the sensitivity some members of the public might feel, our goal has always been to inspire the public to pursue their dreams and appreciate the field of aviation,” she said.
“Most of the pilots featured on this show will tell you they were inspired to become aviators after witnessing the majesty and beauty of an air show, including many female pilots who rose to prominence in the field of aviation.”
For activists like Garfinkel, the air show may be presented as an exercise in entertainment, but causes “massive environmental damage” with the amount of fuel consumed by the jets and the air pollution they produce.
“We understand that (the air show) is a tradition and there are a lot of traditions that are important to people,” she said.
“We truly believe that the way these issues are getting more extreme every day, we should be building new traditions and prioritizing the ways we benefit as a community.”
JOIN THE CONVERSATION