21 July 2012

Ya wanna know what stupid is? #nlpoli #cdnpoli

According to information supplied to the news media – and widely reported already – the helicopter from 444 Squadron used for a training flight than ended with a bit of fishing for the crew six weeks ago was available for search and rescue missions.

And if that re-tasking wouldn’t have been enough, the squadron had another aircraft on stand-by anyway to meet any call for civilian search and rescue service, which, by the way, is not the squadron’s primary job.

None of that stopped CBC from turning a photo of the trip into a scandal.  But to complain about that though would be to complain about dogs barking:  that’s the shit they do especially when it comes to a potential ratings driver like a controversy spun entirely out of the imaginations of people in a newsroom. 

But for the politicians, after all this time, and all this information and given their position as leaders in the community, they don’t get off with poo flinging.

New Democrat defence critic Jack Harris told at least one reporter something that was not true – about the SAR status and stand-by status of the squadron – apparently after he’d be told the truth.  Jack isn’t famous for knowing what he is talking about.  He tried to pin the Cougar 491 tragedy on the men and women of the Canadian Forces initially.  He also leaped on more recent incidents with the same enthusiasm and the same ignorance.

For those of us who are used to Jack after his long career in politics this stuff is par for the course. It’s a shame so many people in his riding set such low standards for politicians that the guy who can’t figure out his cell phone has won by a landslide the past two elections.

The federal New Democrats have a bunch of these guys like Harris in their caucus.  As they get closer to power, you’ll probably see the party try to sideline them much the same way the Conservatives slid their embarrassments off to the side and eventually out the door.  Jack will probably retire before 2015, anyway.

Jack’s fellow New Democrat, former Liberal turned Dipper George Murphy told local reporters he thought the flight was “stupid”.  Well, if George wants to know what stupid is, he need only look to Jack Harris.  Compare Jack to the squadron commander and the wing commander in this incident and you’ll understand precisely what “stupid” is.

But the greatest scorn over this recent episode should rest on the political hide of Liberal Randy Edmunds.  Here’s what he said, as reported by the Telegram:

The people of Labrador have been lobbying hard for improved search and rescue capacity in Labrador since the Burton Winters tragedy, and to have them exposed to this abuse of search and rescue helicopters is an outright insult to the people.

Now Randy has already gone way too far by trying to connect federal search and rescue with Burton Winters’ death.

What’s worse, Randy – as someone directly involved in the search  - should know the cold and undeniable truth:  Burton Winters did not die because of anything to do with Trip 4 Squadron, 103 Squadron in Gander or anyone else to do with the Canadian Forces. To bring that back and tie it in any way to this incident, even as a passing reference, is just another step way out beyond.

The only abuse perpetrated here has been by politicians like Harris and Edmunds who abuse their constituents every time they spew their falsehoods and then claim that they want to make things better.

And if they really had any courage in any of their convictions, Harris and Edmunds would visit 444 Squadron and 103 Squadron and give the SAR community the benefit of their expertise directly.

Don’t hold your breath.

You won’t see that.

When it comes to genuine knowledge and genuine courage, you can rest assured it does not come from either Edmunds or Harris dangling at the end of a reporter’s microphone.