Our Democracy is Leaving on a Jet Plane
This latest article by Andrew Coyne on the F-35 fiasco gave me chills, it’s a must read for anyone who still believes in honest, representative government. See this excellent article by Brian Stewart for more background on the growing secrecy in recent years surrounding the F-35 purchase and other activities at the Department of National Defense.
There are two parts of fiasco: the first is money and need; the second is a deeper problem of democratic accountability.
First the money. The difference between the original claims made during the election and the revised actual cost is over 10 billion dollars; meanwhile we’re cutting budgets left, right and centre. And why do we need these fancy stealth fighters jets exactly? Some argue that there is, in fact, a need and that the F-35 is part of a larger US led plan preparing for a future where China is ascendant and threatens the West. I think that’s a paranoid fear and a ridiculous plan but if it is the case then all the countries now pulling out of buying these jets doesn’t bode well for the plan. Maybe we should stop worrying about distant future wars so much and worry about the present and the near future. There are indeed defense concerns for Canada but I can’t understand why we are focussing on stealth fighter jets instead of helicopters, ships and maybe some submarines given our needs as a nation surrounded by three oceans. Never mind that, couldn’t this money be spent better on some useful icebreaker ships rather than the useless ones being planned? So we buy the American planes and then still need to ask them to break the ice for our own navy when they are doing exercises up north, that’s just not right.
But it’s not really about the money. Aaron Wherry, as always, lets the salient point speak for itself; the lifecycle costs of the F-35 fighters was precisely one of the items that was being demanded of the Conservative minority by the finance committee last year. The same demands on which the Speaker made a clear ruling that the government was in violation and should give the information to parliament. The same demands which led directly to the unprecedented event of parliament passing a majority motion that found the government was in contempt of parliament. The debate on this motion included some outrageous claims by the Conservatives about the “Tyranny of the Majority” in parliament which showed once again what their party really thinks about how our democracy works and who should be in charge, namely, them at all costs.
An election soon followed and the Conservatives won a majority despite their actions. This does not justify them of course. It serves only to show how flawed our electoral system is that 60% of the country voting against a party can give it an unfettered majority power if there is a divided opposition.
So after all this the real question is, do we have a democracy or not? Is Canada a country where a party can just shut down parliament to avoid defeat; scrap departments that conflict with their motives; hide information from parliament despite being found in contempt; lie about their true spending plans during an election and turn around after the election call it all an accounting error? Is that how our democracy works?
…don’t know when it’ll be back again…