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‘It is in Canada’s interest that Ukraine prevails’: The best comments from Hub readers this week

Commentary

Interesting discussions were had in Hub Forum this week, where readers commented on Trudeau’s reaction to the Bell Media layoffs, the impact of Canada’s low birth rate on the economy, and the reform needed for Canadian media content. They also discussed why supporting Ukraine is more important than ever.

The goal of Hub Forum is to bring the impressive knowledge and experience of The Hub community to the fore and to foster open dialogue and the competition of differing ideas in a respectful and productive manner. Here are some of the most interesting comments from this past week.

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Corporate Canada gets caught in the crosshairs

Monday, February 19, 2024

“The apparent problem with this government (and definitely too many Canadian voters) is failure to understand that government doesn’t generate wealth. It seems these days that, like vaccines, capitalism is a victim of its own success.

Government largely provides services. These are primarily wealth redistribution, not wealth creation. What services, and to what level, is the eternal debate.”

— Gord Edwards

“The more that the current government is threatened with defeat, the greater the potential of this emotional lashing out.”

— Eric Kahlke

The plummeting birth rate is everyone’s problem

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

“Marriage and family will need support to survive. With all the pressures of a fast-changing world, the days of ‘go it alone’ are not sufficient to meet the needs of change. Publicly funded programs such as universal daycare, health care, dental care, pharmacare, and free education from prekindergarten to post-secondary are all necessary to promote good family health and growth.”

— A. Chezzi

“How can couples afford to have children in these financial times? Both work to meet the rising rent or maybe even save for their own house. Food prices are the highest I have seen in my life.”

— Paul Nesbitt

“At a whole population level, a policy nudge or two (i.e. incentives) might be enough to move the birthrate higher.

Something tells me (evolutionary drive) that given a better environment (more resources, safer, more stable) the big-brained human animal, living in the northern part of the North American geographical region known as Canada, will feel secure enough to have more children.”

— Paul Attics

“It is no surprise that people with significant financial stability and wealth are having more children; they have a safety net that the populous does not.”

— Rod H

Canada’s CanCon regime must be reformed

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

“The cultural argument for Cancon was long ago consumed by the economic interests of creative industry stakeholders and other CRTC co-dependents. The most important thing is not telling Canadian stories or even whether anyone watches. It’s money—the entire system is an industrial subsidy.

— Peter Menzies

“I think it is great that we have a film industry in Canada that uses Canadian talent, but I absolutely think we could make shows that are proud to be Canadian.”

— Alice

“We should work towards amplifying regional storytellers and content creators like Letterkenny Tales and The PEI Encyclopedia as they tell authentic Canadian stories and deliver them in an enjoyable format.”

— Zac Waldman

“Perhaps it is time to end subsidies. We don’t live in a three-channel universe anymore. And, while the average American may have insular viewing habits, I’d say there is a taste for novelty and different cultures in many countries. With rare exceptions in my experience ‘Canadian TV’ has meant ‘change the channel’. There is another way: make good content. But they would need to be good stories where the writers’ definition of Canadian culture is the backdrop, not the purpose.”

— Gord Edwards

“Defining what makes us Canadian is a long-standing issue. With such a diverse, multilingual nation with vast geography, it’s not easy. What it means to be Canadian in Charlottetown is very different from Montreal, etc.”

— Cathy

A motorist drives on a service road along the closed Trans-Canada Highway as floodwaters fill the ditches beside the highway in Abbotsford, B.C., on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press.
Actually, minister, Canada needs more roads

Thursday, February 22, 2024

“We obviously need to move goods, internally and for export markets. Currently, roads are the primary way this is done (at least by value). Even if the government were to try to shift this transport mode balance, it would take a decade to begin to change the mix. Until then, if were to happen at all, we need to invest in roads to meet the need.

Perhaps [Minister Guilbeault] was thinking more about city roads, and the incentives for commuter/commercial sprawl and badly laid out urban areas when roads are expanded in/out of cities?”

— Paul Attics

“I’m not sure we will necessarily spur the economy with new road construction, but we will certainly strangle economic growth if we fail to build adequate roads.”

— Brian Tiessen

Ukraine needs our support now more than ever

Friday, February 23, 2024

“I agree we should be supporting Ukraine against this aggression. Once it is clear that the West does not support maintaining international boundaries the future is bleak. Canada needs to step up and at least meet the 2 percent of GDP to defence spending threshohold.”

— Jo wearing

“It is up to leaders to lead. Our federal leaders should be regularly speaking with one voice on the baseline need of this conflict:

  • It is just that Ukraine defeats the illegal and brutal aggression;
  • money spent now will be much less than the money required should Russia win;
  • it is in Canada’s interest that Ukraine prevails.

The parties can debate specifics of course, but they should not politicize any aspect of our support.”

— Paul Attics

Alisha Rao: What the history of the Avro Arrow can teach us about the future of Canadian defence

Commentary

This week marked a major anniversary in Canadian aviation and military history. Tuesday was the 64th anniversary of the Diefenbaker government’s controversial decision to cancel the Avro Arrow project. It’s a decision that has not only become the subject of popular folklore and even ongoing controversy, but its inherent tensions continue to play out in Canadian policy debates about defence policy and military procurement. 

The Avro Arrow project launched in earnest in 1953. Although it’s hard to appreciate today when we’re regularly reminded of Canada’s low military spending and deteriorating military industrial base, the Canadian Air Force came out of the Second World War as the fourth largest among the Allies, and Canadian defence spending as a share of GDP was nearly 10 percent in the 1950s. Not only did we have a strong military track record during the World Wars, but as the Cold War was beginning to take shape, there was a strong sense that the country needed to maintain and even strengthen the country’s defence capacity. 

Developed by domestic aircraft manufacturer Avro Canada, the Avro Arrow was conceptualized after the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) sought a plane that could fly at Mach 2 speeds and reach higher altitudes. The promise of this program would demonstrate doubly that Canada was making strides in the aerospace and aviation industry, while also showing preparedness in the face of potential threats. “Our defences were ready” was something the Avro Arrow had come to represent. 

The project’s rollout began in 1955. In those early years, the RCAF actually came close to selling the Avro to the U.K., but the 1957 Defence White Paper halted those plans. Test flights and productions were accelerated in response to a Moscow airshow that signalled the erstwhile Soviet Union would outnumber American bombers. The threat had become imminent.

Despite these developments, Canada’s Joint Intelligence Committee, formed in the postwar period and created to provide strategic assessments, was tasked in 1958 with the decision of whether to continue supporting the project or scupper it. 

That was the same year that Canada signed the agreement with the U.S. to establish NORAD. The new alliance tilted in the direction of greater military integration between the two countries including with respect to equipment and procurement. At the same time, concerns about Soviet aircraft started to shift as it itself began to invest in other defence capacities—including ballistic missiles. The combination of these factors (as well as its rising fiscal cost) spelled doom for the Avro Arrow. The project was cancelled on February 20, 1959. 

This was considered a setback for the aviation industry, including the loss of as many as 15,000 jobs. The RCAF purchased the McDonnell Voodoo jet from the United States Air Force as the successor to its aging aircrafts. 

Prime Minister John Diefenbaker cited the diminished Soviet threat as the main reason for the Arrow’s cancellation. Alan Barnes, a former federal intelligence official, however, points to the project’s financial unsustainability as a key factor. He argues that the Diefenbaker government subordinated financial concerns because it didn’t want to be perceived as cutting military spending. 

Canadian Air and Space Museum CEO Claude Sherwood speaks to the crowd in front of a full-scale replica of the legendary Avro Arrow at the Canadian Air & Space Museum in Toronto on Friday, Feb. 20, 2009. Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press.

So was the tale of the Avro Arrow. Since then, Canada has relied on American suppliers for its military aircrafts. Last year’s purchase of F-35s is a prime example. 

Canada’s dependence on foreign military suppliers remains the subject of debate. There have long been calls for the federal government to leverage military procurement to cultivate a stronger domestic industrial base. The Avro Arrow experience is sometimes even cited as rationale for such an approach. This debate continues to play out in the context of growing calls for Canada to boost its military spending to meet its NATO obligations. 

Another modern-day similarity is the Department of National Defence’s lack of transparency—a subject that Hub contributor Richard Shimooka recently wrote about. In the case of Avro Arrow, we’re still learning the full story of the project and the decision to cancel it because there isn’t a process for systemically declassifying historical government records. 

The upshot is that Avro Arrow isn’t simply a peculiar part of Canadian military and political history. The underlying debates behind the project and our efforts to understand it reflect important modern-day questions about the role and purpose of Canada’s defence policy.