Thursday, November 10, 2005

It is the soldier.

Another eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month is here. Fewer veterans will be on parade than last year and more than next year. Backs will be a little more bent; salutes will be a little more shaky; and more will be under wheel power. What won't have changed is the pride that the veteran feels for his country and his comrades, present and absent. His heart is ramrod straight and he has a clear vision of what it takes to make a country strong and free.

Besides respecting and honouring what the veteran has given us, what can we do to make his sacrifice worthwhile? We can honour and respect the future. We can do that by recognizing that safety and security aren't free.

More Canadians are thinking more clearly about what our current military is facing on our behalf. Part of that understanding is because of the no- nonsense approach and forthrightness of General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff. The Canadian Forces cannot be social workers in uniform and they have to be given the right tools and enough of them to do what is a deadly job. General Hillier has been very clear about the hazards that our soldiers are facing in Afghanistan. The point is not to alarm us, but to prepare us for what is probably inevitable.

When you look at a veteran today, take a look at the young men and women in uniform on parade, as well. Imagine them in forty or fifty years at a Remembrance Day Parade. Far fewer of them will probably have lost comrades in service to Canada than the older veterans you see today. It's our job to make sure that this is as few as possible. That doesn't mean shirking our duty as a country. It means making sure that our men and women are equipped to do the job. It means supporting a significant increase in defence spending.

It means remembering that:

It's the soldier, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the press. It's the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It's the soldier, not the politician that ensures our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It's the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag. They shall grow not old as we who are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. And at the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.


Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

It certainly is not benefiting the airman.

"Feds delay $12B purchase of military aircraft", National Post, Nov. 16:

Bugger Bombardier, the Canadian defence industry, and the Conservatives. And of course the Liberals.


'Key cabinet ministers and the defence chief faced "passionate" aerospace industry representatives Monday night. They had to deflect claims they were tailoring the purchase of planes and helicopters to eliminate Canadian competition in favour of specific foreign-built craft they want...

"It's all on the basis of the ferocious lobbying by industry. It's all Toronto-Montreal-Bombardier politics."..

...sources say it's become evident the purchase of tactical transport aircraft, heavy-lift helicopters and fixed-wing search-rescue planes from the United States and Europe will open a political Pandora's box in the key election battlegrounds of Ontario and Quebec...

The industry complains Ottawa is ignoring economic and regional development by directing its contracts toward Italy's Alenia C-27J SaR aircraft and the U.S.-made Hercules transport plane and Chinook helicopter...

The Conservative defence critic, retired general Gordon O'Connor, says he's concerned the government is rushing the process unnecessarily and has made the requirements "so precise only one solution's possible."

"They're basically saying that these are needed tomorrow morning for Afghanistan and that's not true."

"I don't think having a legitimate competition . . . would add much time to this process.".. [And pigs will soon fly better than the Canadian Air Force's aircraft.]

Quebec-based Bombardier has hired the lobbying firm of Hill and Knowlton to press its case on Parliament Hill. Bombardier officials did not return phone calls on Tuesday...'


6:43 AM  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

And my letter in the Globe and Mail today:

"When pigs fly


Thursday, November 17, 2005, Page A22

Ottawa -- A curse on both the Liberals and Conservatives for playing politics with the acquisition of the new aircraft that our air force so desperately needs (Military's Fast-Track Buying Plan Put On Hold -- Nov. 16). But I suspect our political parties are irrelevant; Bombardier rules. And pigs may well fly sooner than new airplanes for the military."

6:33 AM  

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