Susan Riley had a great column in the Ottawa Citizen today, in which she exposes the Harper government's view of reality. From Dimitri Soudas's nonsense about a Russian threat, to Stephen Harper's nonsense about a Russian threat.
The Russians must think we're idiots. I can just imagine their political cartoons.
But she also sheds a little light on Harper's posturing in the Great White North.
The truth is that Harper's government, while giving northern sovereignty welcome profile, has promised much and invested little -- outside of annual photo ops like this week's military ballet on ice and Harper's unexpected northern jig.I agree with Riley. This government is dealing in illusions.
Meanwhile, a 2005 promise of three new icebreakers has been downgraded to one big ship and six patrol vessels. There is still no sign of the promised northern deep-water port. And -- despite Harper's announcement of three new surveillance satellites to keep an eye on "the bad guys" -- investment in northern science, environmental protection and military presence has been slow in coming.
As Gen. Walt Natynczyk (whose candour is becoming refreshing) noted, the North is a more hostile and expensive environment for Canadian forces than even Afghanistan. Now, if he could free up $16 billion somewhere ...
Ideology, illusion, will probably trump reality, evidence, in both these cases. The next challenge for Harper is to convince Canadians, including deficit-shy Conservatives, that we really need those expensive fighter jets -- not exactly tailored to fight home-grown terrorism, which seems a more immediate threat than a replay of the Second World War.