A little muscle-flexing, please

Posted 12.05.10

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Having our Member of Parliament in the government's cabinet should make us finally pleased with our representation in Ottawa. But people still don't see it that way; they argue that Lawrence Cannon's powerful position in government is consuming him. He doesn't have time, literal time, for us little guys, his constituency.

He has to be at the UN, or with President Sarkozy -- he's having Hilary Clinton for lunch up in Wakefield! Whoops, now a public statement needed to the Haitian people following the disputed election last weekend.

How can a guy this busy represent us not only in Parliament and on legislative committees but to the various government departments and agencies that constituency people are always running afoul of. "I wish we had an MP I could talk to," an acquaintance remarked.

But we do! And we shouldn't give up on this doorway right into the cabinet room, in the form of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, our MP. True, dealing with agencies and offices is left to underlings, and that is rarely as effective as, say, Bob Bertrand was in person, or Barry Moore.

But in matters that really matter, that affect our society, the federal cabinet is the inner sanctum -- and we are there. We'd be fools to refuse to use this lever of power because we've convinced ourselves that it's powerless. Here is real power, if our MP will speak up in cabinet.

For example╔

This very cabinet, in the middle of the country's worst modern deficit, has announced it will order new F-35 star wars jet fighters from the USA. They will cost more than $70 million each.

I can't form a clear picture of $70 million. It is more that any one of us in the Pontiac will earn over our entire life time -- a million per year for seventy years.

That's for one jet, not all of them.

This announcement was a stimulus package for citizen complaints. Not only is the cost stunning -- it will double over the lifetime of each aircraft for operations and maintenance. (These figures are difficult to pin down because the manufacturer and the cabinet keep changing the price, depending upon add-ons and other features.)

Why do we need such state-of-the-art aircraft? Who will we be defending ourselves from? The Americans? The Russians (with our 20 aircraft)? Or is this so Canada can be one of the boys and join future "shock and awe" assaults by our great big ally? We should be paying for generations for this?

Wouldn't new icebreakers and infrastructure in the Arctic be more useful? New helicopters? Seventy million invested in the Pontiac?

Here's our test: Mr Cannon's government wants to spend $16 billion on jets; they have to be convinced to change course. We can do it. We can promote this change via our direct line to the federal cabinet.

If we put enough pressure on our MP, he'll see that our anger over unwarranted spending will cause him to lose the next election. Next spring, maybe. We shouldn't be afraid of an election. It'll carry our message into the cabinet: Pontiac wants an end to extravagant spending, starting with this huge military purchase -- while the world economy is grinding slower every day.

It's our future, Mr. Cannon. You're spending our future on these fighter aircraft. Pontiac says no more, if you wish to keep your seat and your place in cabinet. Call Mr Cannon's local office with your opinion: 1-866-569-6763.

Flex our Pontiac muscle!

Copyright © 2010 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/11.10