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Stephen Harper's deadly toys

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Imagine these spiffy new six-guns (er, fighter jets) buzzing around over Toronto, or Ottawa, or Vancouver, ready to pick off… pick off… well, pick off men with funny clothes carrying suspicious briefcases, or fighter jets from China, or a rogue madman in a heavily armed ultra-light?


You can't be too ready to shoot first, our Stephen says.


Vignette #3: head overseas and "locate and destroy known terrorist cells" in order to protect ordinary civilians and buildings and such in a "failed state".


We'll be able to blow up nasty terrorists in their cells, while they sleep or eat or get ready to fire some surface-to-surface missile that they bought from the same arms manufacturers that we bought our six-guns from.


Maybe knocking off a few innocent bystanders at the same time. But hey, when you've got six-guns down at the OK Corral, you've gotta shoot first, and when those bullets fly...


There are other vignettes to deal with other theoretical threats to Canada – foreign countries threatening "aggression" (you know, Vladimir Putin saying "you people are bad people"), or terrorists planning to hop across the Atlantic or Pacific, armed to the teeth, ready to jump us from behind. In the case of stealthy warriors creeping towards Canada, with "weapons in transit", Stephen is ready. Our new weapons "will be used to prevent the attack in progress, or respond to this major terrorist attack after it has occurred."


Blast them to smithereens over the sea, and if not on the ocean, on Spadina Avenue. Blow them to bits in Halifax Harbour. Shoot ‘em full of lead in Iqaluit (now that's better – not so many people around to see the dead bodies…er, collateral damage).




The real irony in all of this war-mongering – this saber-rattling, this armed posturing – is that the reason for getting new fighter jets has nothing to do with getting rid of the CF-18 fighters we already have.


They're actually very good, and military spokespeople have said so, in public, on a number of occasions. Sure, they need to be upgraded with the latest fancy technology, but the basic machine works really well.


The real reason the CF-18 is being replaced is simple: the manufacturer doesn't make spare parts for it anymore.


Like all good exploitative multinational corporations, arms manufacturers have learned that the best way to sell new product is to build new models that aren't compatible with old models. That way, when the shelves are empty of replacement parts for the old stock (read: a couple of years old), then the new models are all you can buy.


The weapons guys have learned how to create a guaranteed market.


In other words, Stephen and his posse – stern and unflinching guardians of fiscal responsibility that they pretend to be – are planning on buying their new six-guns so they can protect the system that drives up costs and uses up the planet's precious resources and compels everyone to buy the latest version of every age-old tool or implement ever dreamed up by our hyperactive imaginations.


Buying new six-guns or fighter jets or assault weapons or cluster bombs or any other device that kills, maims or oppresses people who we imagine to be evil is indicative of the paranoid mindset of our political leaders in Ottawa – but not necessarily of ordinary Canadians.


What about spending a lot of money, time and sincere effort instead on building trust, and engaging in collaboration, and sharing the burdens of other people, instead of on Fortress Canada?


I'll vote for that.


And so, I bet, will most Canadians.


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