Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Book Virus.........

I've been tagged with the Book Virus by my Conservative pal, Vitor, at "What It Takes To Win", so here goes.

1. Number of books I own. We have owned thousands, but we recycle them through our children and to libraries, etc. My mother was a high school history teacher and we inherited a lot of history books. W've also got a lot of books on aviation, business, autosports, and cooking. At the moment, I'm guessing that we have about 300 on the shelf and many more in boxes.

2. Books that mean a lot to me. My pilot's log book, which holds about thirty-five years of my life. My mother's University of Manitioba Yearbook from 1929. Any of Churchill's books.

3. Books I have read recently. The "Tipping Point" and "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell. "Boyd, the fighter pilot who changed the art of war" by Robert Coram. "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu - again. Lest you get the idea that I'm pre-occupied with physical warfare, there are a lot of lessons applicable to political warfare in those books. More fun books are cook books by anyone.

4. The To-Read List. "Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada" by William Johnson, and the anxiously awaited, but as yet unwritten, "My life after federal politics" by Anne McLellan.

And the next tags go to "Waking up on Planet X" and "BendGovernment".

Jumping to conclusions - a clarification

For the benefit of those who get their exercise jumping to conclusions and making leaps of logic, please allow me to clarify something from my blog "A Conflict of Hypocrisies".
UPDATE: Some of the comments made some good points and I have further clarified my post:

I refered to Jack Layton as the Duty National Socialist Leader. For those who like to "exercise", that suggested that I was calling Jack Layton a Nazi, and that I was disrespecting all those who died at Hitler's hands. Please settle down and park your misplaced indignation.
I had no intention whatsoever of suggesting that ANY Canadian elected official was a Nazi. I believe the term is completely outside the pale of acceptable political discourse.
I apologize to anyone who may have mistakenly believed that that was my intent -- I should have been clearer in my writing.
When I wrote the blog I meant "National" to refer to Canada and "Socialist" to refer to Mr. Layton's professed political philosophy. Period. Dot. Stop. In no way did I intend those words to mean anything else. I'm sorry that the capital letters confused some people. I had not intended them to signify a proper noun. I have changed the phrasing to "Canada's federal" to correct the mis-impression.
For those who lectured me on history and defending democracy, back off. I spent more than thirty years and buried more than forty friends defending your right to yell at me and to jump to conclusions when I mis-speak or mis-capitalize. I hope that you enjoyed it, even though you are way off base. Now get back to work or go to the gym for some real exercise.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A Conflict of Hypocrisies

NOTE: See subsequent post for correction

Recent "revelations" that military members get accelerated access to things like MRIs and other diagnostic tests seems to have shocked some people. Considering the systemic mistreatment of the military by the Liberal Government and the jobs that the over-tasked and under-appreciated members of the Canadian Forces are asked to do on short notice, shouldn't even the socialists of the medicare debate cut them some slack?

What do they think happens with firefighters, law enforcement personnel, anyone covered by Workers Compensation and, ahem, Members of Parliament?

Like so many things that the military used to be able to count on in the performance of their duties, access to their own health care system has been severely cut back. Like every other shortfall that the military endures, this has been primarily due to a lack of adequate funding.

By contracting out military health care, the Liberals can be seen to do something about their long-term hypocrisy about how they treat the military. Alas, it now exposes their hypocrisy about the realities of healthcare delivery in Canada.

In my thirty years as a pilot, I served on many squadrons. On every one, we had a flight surgeon assigned, and he or she was part of our squadron team. They went everywhere with us, and we trusted them with our careers. As any military aviator knows, the annual medical is an occasion that calls up all manner of fear and trepidation that something might be found to clip one's wings.

If the Government of Canada and the Canadian people expect the military to be ready when needed; then priority access to health care should be a given. If local communities want police and firefighters to be available to respond to their emergencies; then priority access to health care should be a given. If companies need skilled individuals to keep the engine of the economy running and they pay into Worker's Compensation; then priority access to health care should be a given.

Healthy military and para-military organizations equal physical security. A healthy workforce equals economic security.

Doctors in uniform also provided a valuable asset to their local civilian communities. In many cases, the only qualified specialist capabilities, such as anaesthesiology, resided in the military doctors in remote locations, such as Cold Lake. Cutbacks in military medical service also caused hardship to nearby civilian populations and increased the overall cost of health care for those areas.

Maybe, if the military budget hadn't been so decimated by Paul Martin, places like Cold Lake might even have MRIs and qualified people to help serve the surrounding area. Maybe machines could be used more than the restricted hours now available because of the power that organized labour holds over health care delivery in Canada.

There are many things wrong with Canada's health care system. Those ills won't be solved simply by promising to replace, over ten years, less than was ripped out (adjusted for inflation) , in the first few years of Paul Martin's rule as Finance Minister. And, they certainly won't be solved by picking on organizations like the Canadian Forces who are simply doing what they have to do to meet the commitments that we have given them.

The pious condemnation of anything that smacks of anyone getting preferential treatment, regardless of logic, common sense and need, reminds me of an old Winston Churchill quote - "The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Communism is the equal sharing of misery."

Okay everyone, hands up all who think that Canada's federal socialist leader, Jack Layton, would put himself at the back of the queue if he (or his wife) needed an MRI. I didn't think so.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

CSI, Law & Order and CPAC

Crime Scene Investigation (CSI), Law & Order, and confidence votes in the House of Commons were all on at the same time last night, and they seemed somehow complementary.

On CSI, a head chef is murdered and dismembered. On Law & Order, a member of the world's oldest profession is murdered by her madam. The crime is covered up by the madam's father, and she gets off scot-free. On CPAC, we watch the slow death and dismemberment of Canadian democracy every day, by practitioners of the world's second oldest profession. The crimes are covered up and the perpetrators get off scot-free. It all seems sadly to fit, if you'll forgive the obvious irony in the titles.

None of these TV shows are happy stories. Two can be fixed by script writers. One can only be fixed by Canadian voters. Our new door-knocking campaign has again put me in touch with those Canadians, and they are a fine bunch of people. Confused, angry, disillusioned, skeptical and much more, but still fine people.

At Spruce Meadows last weekend, we watched some of the finest Law & Order Canadians, the RCMP Musical Ride, carry out a spectacular performance, despite a torrential downpour. They embodied the determination and skill needed to succeed under difficult conditions, and all that is good about Canada and Canadians. Made us all proud.

After door-knocking last night, we were having a coffee in Tim Horton's. Three senior ladies stopped me on the way out and we chatted for about fifteen minutes about what it might take to straighten things out. It seems that our honourable opponent, who shall remain nameless but sits to the right of Paul Martin, does not have their confidence or trust. Another couple broke into our conversation on their way out to express the same sentiment. On my way out, I was stopped by yet another man, who wished us well in Round 2, even though he lives in Peace River. I've gotta hang around Tim Horton's more often.

It's time that these and all other Canadians had their faith restored in politics, politicians and the political process. Hey, how tough can that be? They won't get it by watching CPAC.

I have to say that Law & Order gave me some hope. The father may have covered up a murder, but he was nailed for "enterprise fraud" in the end and sent to the penalty box. Hmmm ..... sponsorship ..... gun registry ..... HRDC ..... vote buying ..... bribery ..... enterprise fraud ..... the Paul Martin Liberals ..... yeah, we can do better, if enough Canadians demand better and decide to stand up for Canada - now, more than ever.

Take a trip to www.conservative.ca; go to "The Party", then to "Key Documents" and click on Conservative Party of Canada Policy Declaration (pdf). Have a good read about what our future could and should look like.

Stay tuned. Script writers at work.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

In the Company of Eagles

"In the Company of Eagles" is the title of a book written by Ernest K. Gann, and which I read at least thirty years ago. It still sits on my shelf and I may read it again after the last Saturday night that I spent "in the company of eagles".

Gann wrote of two mortal enemies in World War I, a French fighter pilot named Paul Chamay and a German fighter pilot named Sebastian Kupper. Chamay and Kupper were fictional gladiators in the early days of aviation. The "eagles" that I spent time with Saturday were (and are) gladiators in peace and war. All of them have made significant contributions to Canada as aviators or aviation pioneers.

The occasion was the annual ceremony inducting deserving members into the Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame.The Hall is physically located in Wetaskiwin, Alberta along with the Reynolds Alberta Museum. The Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame and the Reynolds Alberta Museum are two jewels that, if you haven't visited, you should. They are modern, relevant and spectacular.

One couldn't begin to add up the years of experience in the room of about 250 men and women who have forged Canada's history through the use of the aircraft and aviation.

4 Wing Cold Lake's Aerospace Engineering and Test Establishment (AETE) was recognized with the Belt of Orion Award for outstanding contributions to Canada's aviation development by providing world class flight test and experimental services. The folks at AETE have led the way in the flight test business. That granted, as an old friend said later in the evening: "It's nice to see that AETE has finally finished the Harvard (Mk I) flight notes".

It was a thrill to be in the room with the spirit of people like the late Alexander Beaufort Fraser Fraser-Harris. Way too many names, but a man who was called the "Father of Canadian Naval Aviation". His wife, Jean, gave an eloquent thank you for the honour bestowed on one of the few men who had the personal integrity to just say "no" to Paul Hellyer and the folly of departmental integration of the Canadian Forces in 1964.

Kenneth Cecil Maclure's spirit (1914 - 1988) was also celebrated and recognized as a pioneer in the field of polar navigation and safer worldwide air transport operations. Despite his best efforts, he couldn't stop Martin Hartwell from getting hopelessly lost in the North and in need of rescue by the CF Search and Rescue folks three times, but that's another story.

Live and in person was Eric McConachie who spent fifty-two years as an innovator with Canadian Pacific Airlines, Canadair, Bombardier and in private consulting. He was largely responsible for the international success of Bombardier's Regional Jet program.

Also live and in person was one of the most accomplished, yet modest, Canadian aviators with whom I have had the pleasure to work. Colonel (ret) Chris Hadfield is one of the few Canadians to truly "slip the surly bonds of earth" as an astronaut aboard Shuttle Missions STS-74 and STS-100. Chris tells a great story of loitering at low level in a two-ship formation of CF-18s going about as slow as they could and Chris's aviator father, Roger, doing a split-S to join on their wing with his tail-dragger aerobat. Flight safety weenies should note that the statute of limitations has expired.

Many, many pioneers of Canadian military and civilian aviation enjoyed the evening with the Guest of Honour, Lieutenant Governor Normie Kwong, who offered a slightly cheeky, but situationally appropriate toast to "my new buddy, the Queen".

The point of this positive blog (two in a row; I think I'm becoming a wimp) is that Canada has a rich heritage in aviation that must be preserved and promoted. I'm told that the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame has some financial challenges. This is probably not a surprise, but it is something that needs to be addressed.

In large part, Canada was built by air within our borders and our national mettle was forged on the world stage by our aviation heroes in peace and war over the past century. It is a legacy that we have a sacred duty to protect.

When I spend time like last Saturday with people like Hall of Famer Joe Schultz (night fighter ace flying Bristol Beaufighters and DeHavilland Mosquitos with 410 Cougar Squadron), it makes me appreciate what some Canadians has been through to give us what we so take for granted today.

Some years back, I made representation to Heritage Minister Sheila Copps about how the Canadian Forces Snowbirds should be funded as a national program and not just as part of the CF budget. I was thanked, patted on the head, and told to leave such weighty decisions to the grownups.

I don't know what the annual budget for the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame is, but it's money well spent with respect to preserving Canada's heritage. I'm sure that Heritage Minister, the Honourable Liza Frulla would love to hear from you at Frulla.L@parl.gc.ca about how much you value and want to preserve Canada's aviation heritage and the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame. The Conservative Party of Canada Heritage Critic would also like to hear from you at Oda.B@parl.gc.ca. She didn't tell me that, but I'm sure she won't mind.

It was somehow appropriate that, while about twenty aviation folks were enjoying the fruits of vintners' and distillers' labours in the front bar of the Westin later in the evening, former Minister of National Defence Perrin Beatty should come through the front door to say hi. He thought he was just there to check in.