Prime Minister Harper addressed the largest crowd of supporters he has ever gotten in the north. Granted they were being paid to listen to him as members of our Armed Forces. He spent much of the ten-minute speech talking about the lost Franklin Expedition, which the Conservative government has been furtively searching for in the past few years. Harper finally gave us an answer as to why he was investing millions in a project to find two ships-likely torn apart by the dangerous ice flows of the Arctic. Apparently, according to Harper who must have spoken to experts, the lost Franklin expedition—the famous lost Franklin expedition, I should say (as Sir John Franklin had a tendancy to get lost)—“laid the foundations for Canada’s claim to the Arctic.” So that’s why we’re sinking money into two shipwrecks over 150 years old!
Of course, Sir John Franklin was British; it was a British expedition that he was on and Canada was still British North America. The North wasn’t even technically part of Canada in 1845; it was either Rupert’s Land or the North Western Territory. Both were part of British North America, but they weren’t “Canada” until Confederation in 1867 when the Canadian government decided to buy out the territories. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead.
As a historian, I applaud the effort to search for this mysterious bit of history. However, I do feel that the hundreds of thousands of dollars the government so far given to the project could have been better spent elsewhere. Perhaps rebuilding our infrastructure or buying new aircraft for the military or new ships for the navy and coast guard!
WAIT! Forgive me, I forgot that, in his speech, the Prime Minister said that protecting our north and giving our military proper equipment was so important these days with the imperialist Russians crouching on our doorstep. This is why the government has invested so much in funding new designs for helicopters, as well as bids for new naval supply ships and ice breakers. The reason that we don’t have new equipment is because of the underfunding of the previous administration. Although, the previous administration has not been an administration for 8 years! With the arrival date of the controversial F-35’s set on the back burner until after the next Federal election, and no new ice breakers until 2020, clearly our government has our backs! Or, rather, our military’s backs. It’s like the Ross Rifle fiasco all over again
With his people assured that he is doing what is best for them, even if it is taking a long time, Harper continued to harp about the imperialist tendencies of Vladimir Putin (or, as we say in Canada, Vladimir Poutine). Canada is apparently in danger from Russian incursion along our Northern Border, much like we were during Harper’s hero Diefenbaker’s reign as Prime Minister! Dief the Chief certainly handled that situation well, what with axing the Avro Arrow and missiles full of sand! The threat of a Russian invasion is very real though. About 17 Russian jets a year infringe upon airspace we claim. Our air force always repels them, and they do a splendid job, although they might do a better one if they would get those new planes. A fighter group in Canada means business when it’s against Russia, even though, when the United States sends ships into Canadian waters without asking, we just send a little post it note to Washington.
Harper concluded his annual Northern tour without eating seal meat, and with a resounding round of applause from his paid supporters. He then packed up his lectern (well he didn’t, but his people did). I wonder how much it costs to put up a nice sign with Conservative colours on it, stick it on a metal base, and cart it around the North? A pity it isn’t winter, they could have saved on gas and gone by dog sled. The barren terrain did give Mr. Harper a chance to ride a motor bike! Don’t get too excited. He wore his shirt and helmet and gloves…he is a Conservative after all. However, the performance has prompted some more comparisons between Harper and Mr. Putin. At least Mr. Putin properly funds his military!