Monday, September 9, 2013

How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up, Winston?

O'Brien held up his left hand, its back toward Winston, with the
thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.
"How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?"
"And if the Party says that it is not four but five -- then how many?"
The word ended in a gasp of pain.

-- George Orwell 1984

As a resident of Harperland, there are indeed days when I feel like Winston Smith, the beleaguered protagonist of Orwell's prescient novel, 1984. Like Smith, I live in a land of lies perpetrated by a government that claims to represent its citizens, claims that are as far from truth as most of us are from sainthood. It is a land where civic engagement is discouraged, genuine concerns derisively dismissed, and the most passionate often find themselves on government enemies' lists. It is a land of cruel delusion.

My friend Steve yesterday alerted me to yet one more instance of the kind of Harper propaganda and subterfuge that bears little relation to truth.

Most of us assume that when we fly, we are protected by stringent government oversight, and that when we purchase a ticket from a Canadian airline, we are purchasing the services of both a Canadian plane and crew. That is not necessarily true.

There is a term in the airline industry called wet leasing, a practice that allows Canadian companies to lease not just a foreign aircraft but also its crew, maintenance and other essential elements.

While there is nothing illegal about the practice, it does open the door to potential threats to safety.

Take, for example, an incident that occurred on July 16, 2012, when two Canadian CF-18 Hornet fighter jets scrambled to intercept a Sunwing Airlines flight near Quebec City, after the Toronto-bound aircraft lost contact with air traffic control for more than an hour. The plane and crew, leased from Portugal, placed everyone in danger of being shot down as a terrorist threat for one simple reason: the pilot forgot to change radio frequncies when he entered a new flight zone, a standard requirement that even the most unseasoned of domestic pilots are well-aware of.

Yet in Harperland, we are told not to worry. Last week, six months after CTV News reported the near-death experience of the Sunwing passengers, Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt announced the government will limit wet-leasing by imposing a cap of “20 per cent of a Canadian carrier’s fleet that can be wet-leased from a foreign company for periods of more than 30 days.”

In addition to this wholly inadequate and belated response, Minister Raitt had the audacity (or is it just the usual contempt for the intelligence of Canadians?) to issue the following statement:

“Our government is working to make sure that Canadians are first in line for Canadian jobs, to open new markets for Canadian companies and to give more options to Canadian consumers”.

Message to Ms. Raitt and the other apparatchiks of Harplandia:

You are holding up four fingers.


  1. All Harper needs and we should give him is the middle finger and we should oblige him.

    1. This would indeed be a productive use of our 'digital' rights, LeDaro. ;)

  2. I'm sure the residents of Lac Megantic are comforted to know that the Harper government makes transportation safety a priority, Lorne.

    1. Just as much as the public will be when the next air disaster strikes, Owen.