"The Harper government's spin machine," Jeffrey Simpson wrote this week, "is so pervasive and over the top, daily exposure leads to the dilemma of laughing or crying." This is particularly true when the propagandists assume their usual self congratulatory tone and trumpet claims about Canada which are clearly untrue:
As in, Canada is "a clean energy superpower," a claim demonstrably false by any conceivable international measure. As in, Canada is "a free trade leader," a claim belied, among other yardsticks, by being shut out of the Pacific trade talks and being an obstacle to a deal at the World Trade Organization, both courtesy of agricultural supply management. As in, Canada is an economic model for debt management, a claim destroyed last week by the OECD, which lumped personal, provincial and federal debt together and showed Canada to be among the most indebted of member countries.
The Harper crew is nothing if not boastful. But the party line in defence of the purchase of new F-35 fighter jets has taken spinning the absurd to a new level. The new mantra is that we need the jets to defend ourselves from a Russian attack. Thus, we were told that our old CF 18's recently convinced a Russian bomber -- a prop driven aircraft which has been flying patrols in international air space since the beginning of the Cold War -- to head back home, as it has been doing for fifty years.
The story has all the ear marks of little boys showing the other kids in the neighbourhood their new toys -- a clear case of "Mine is bigger than yours." It should be funny. But, in truth, it's offensive. In both Canada and the United States we have elected leaders who have no experience of war. This writer is among those who have not known combat. And, while I would not wish that experience on anyone, it's clear to me that those who have been caught in the middle of a war have a much different mindset than those who now give the orders to dispatch soldiers around the world.
My father's generation -- those who managed to come home from World War II -- were not boastful. They lost spouses, family members and friends to bigger and better weapons. They understood war in terms of human cost and human loss. They saw human cruelty up close. And, having been there, they did not want to return. When he came home, my father refused to keep a gun in the house, saying he had had enough of them during the war. And, he said, he owed his survival to "pure dumb luck."
He passed away last year -- having voted for the Harper government in 2006. But I cannot imagine that he would nod approvingly at the PMO's latest absurdity. He had the kind of experience which is beyond the comprehension of Mr. Harper his silly band of patriots.