Isn't it amazing how almost everything in modern politics can find its inspiration, or be reflected, in a Looney Tunes cartoon? As the sequestration ...
On Prime Minister Diefenbaker's Black Friday, it was announced that 14,000 jobs would vanish. The most sophisticated aircraft in the world, the Avro Arrow, would be dismantled and the pride of an entire country was slain along with it. I believe Canada has what it takes to produce another Avro Arrow.
"We will not be constrained by the Statement of Requirements," says the Minister announcing the (re)start of an Options Analysis. No kidding. There...
January 23 marks seven years since Stephen Harper was first elected Prime Minister of Canada. As the PM took the opportunity to pat himself on the back in tweeting his self-assessed greatest accomplishments, perhaps the seven-year itch is the right time to recognize PM Harper's biggest blunders.
Just before the New Year, Samara asked for nominations for the Best Moment in Canadian Democracy in 2012. Despite the cynicism that we all feel from time to time, these five serve as important reminders that there are democratic mechanisms at our disposal, and that despite Canada's imperfections we are lucky to live here.
The jet lag has passed and the Christmas decorations (for some of us at least) are put away in storage. With 2013 stretching out before us, let's reflect on the year that was 2012 in Canadian politics. The best and worst political stories, the best and worst politicians and the biggest sellout.
The year 2012 saw some scandals in Canada. There was the exposure of the multi-million dollar Ornge Air Ambulance scandal, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency scandal in Alberta, and the Robocall scandal. Did we spend a lot of time, money, and energy investigating and analyzing these scandals? Yes. Is there a sure way to avoid these problems for the next year, 2013?
There has been a flurry of cost figures for the F-35, ranging from the government's unwavering figure of $9 billion all the way to $45.8 billion dollars. First the government wants this plane, then they didn't, and now they do again. Canadians are being played for suckers in this little game of procurement bingo that the Harper Cabinet is playing.
If a producer was to consider making a feature film about the F-35 procurement process she or he might, given the events over the past few years either go with one of two genres: Max Senate and the Keystone cops, or Federico Fellini for something a bit more surreal. Somewhere between those two extremes lies, I would think, the reality of the storyline.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is making a trip to New York this week, but it isn't to attend a United Nations meeting to which Canada was extended an invitation. The Prime Minister will instead be in the glitzy hotel, where he is due to receive an award from the little-known Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith partnership of corporate and religious leaders. Between the successive fossil awards for environmental savagery and the unfortunate de-funding of reproductive health in foreign aid, the Harper government continues to slide Canada's international influence down to the gutter.
There are some who say the F-35 is all about capability, and giving the air force the plan it needs to bomb the crap out of China or Russia. There is something to be said for that argument, but now is not the time to make it because with roughly four million of the estimated 10 million lines of software which power this jet have yet to be written. How do we know this toy will work as advertised?
Lies and miscalculations rule the day in Canadian politics and we don't seem too bothered. Who needs data, facts, or expertise to make hundreds of billions worth of decisions? Since lies seem to work, politicians scatter them liberally. Candidates spew promises they have no intention or clue how to keep. We are repeatedly shocked to see them broken.
We now live in a world where a government can turn on its own parliament, deny it the proper accounting assessments necessary for the approval of mega-expensive items like the F-35 jet, and proceed as if the need for the Canadian people to have a proper accounting for such expenditures (the largest military procurement in Canadian history) is not of prime importance.
The F-35s are single engine planes. Asked what will happen if the engine fails, Peter MacKay replied, "It won't." We need planes for search and rescue. The F-35 is not appropriate for search and rescue.
I am writing this while gazing out upon a farmer's field that has just had 1,500 baby red pines planted upon it. You have to squint to notice that the rows of little green tufts are anything other than early weeds taking advantage of the spring sun. I think the tiny trees, however, are a fitting symbol for our mutual Christian and Jewish holidays, celebrating -- indeed embodying -- the renewal of God's earth and spiritual rebirth.
Meanwhile, a resurrection of another kind was taking place in Ottawa -- Trudeaumania 2.0. With Justin Trudeau's definitive smackdown of Senator Patrick Brazeau in last Saturday's charity boxing match, it was as if the national media decided to read a lot into Trudeau's third-round win. As in: Were they thinking now that the young Trudeau -- and the Liberal party -- might rise on the third day also?
The F-35 scandal has shown how the Prime Minister and senior government officials are very reluctant to penalize anyone, especially themselves. The good government watchdog agencies must all be given the power to penalize wrongdoers with high fines -- to bite not just bark.