A spectacular decision

Posted 09.14.10

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Canada has apparently undertaken to spend nine billion dollars on super state-of-the-art fighter jets, plus another nine billion for their maintenance over the contract. Isn't a controversial expenditure of this size, taken without mention during any political campaign and without specific agreement by the House of Commons, a serious affront to democracy?

Can the Prime Minister's Office actually make a sixteen billion order, committing us to pay for the bill, entirely on its own? Is that how democracy works?

Yes, there are semantics, as usual -- a budget was approved, etc.

What isn't semantics are the strangulation of our health system and the death of national day care; seniors and palliative care should stick with bake sales, while education and universities head to user-pay (e.g. for the wealthy). Why isn't sixteen billion going to these popular, helpful, and nation-wide policies?

Wouldn't a democracy debate such an expenditure and then vote on a course of action? Why doesn't that happen in Canada?

This question is a local one, since we're the local press. It's also a moral one: doesn't Aylmer deserve at least an emergency ward, like the CLSC emergency and clinic in Fort Coulonge (population 2,000 plus)?

Aylmer's lists for day-care places is huge. The Bulletin is called every day for our day-care listings, and it's one of the largest sections of our classified ads.

Don't Aylmer families deserve quality, educational day-care? Are seniors' issues not Aylmer's issues, and their needs our needs? Aylmer has lost its only palliative care facility. Are jets really more important than health and schools?

That's the moral side. Aylmer does need help in these services as it expands, but Aylmer is only one of a thousand towns/cities/boroughs that need help. Municipal infrastructure needs have been in the news for months -- our bridges, streets, and police services. Yes, the jets are an Aylmer issue.

And are jets what Canada's military needs? Aren't air forces obsolete in this era of America's massive domination of the skies? Who would these jets stand up against? The Americans? (Forget the Russians; the US won't let them cross a North America boundary.)

Or is the federal government thinking we need the jets for more future stupid adventures overseas?

If this is about the Arctic, it's not about hi-tech jets. Doesn't Canada need a presence on the ground and in the water, not an ‘Arctic presence’ based in Toronto?

The Union of Municipalities, in need of help itself, has just asked for real developmental help in the Arctic communities -- building Canada's claim to the Arctic as part of our country, not as a place for military fly-bys. These jets don't make good sense nor good strategy.

This is spectacular: an anti-democratic decision to spend and lock in our taxes for years to come, based on an immoral position, proposing impracticalities, and based on a really dumb military strategy.

Wow, alright! Wow enough to make us turn and cry for our country.

Copyright © 2010 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/08.10