Mission accomplished - Macleans.ca

Mission accomplished


Alison Crawford reflects on the exquisite precision of a Stephen Harper photo op.

The Coast Guard’s Pierre Radisson ship and the submarine HMCS Cornerbrook lined up one one side of the frigate HMCS Toronto. On the deck of Toronto, was a gaggle of reporters, cameras at the ready.

Then, Defence Minister Peter MacKay sauntered onto the deck with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. They stopped to make idle chit chat until urged by handlers to move forward a few metres in order to have them perfectly positioned with the other two vessels in the background.

But wait! There’s more! Three CF-18 jets flew past in formation. But the fly-by was a little to fast for some camera operators and photographers to catch the entire montage of sub, jets and coast guard, so the CF-18s passed over four more times.


Mission accomplished

  1. Our tax dollars at work.

    • Our tax dollars at play.

  2. Jim Flaherty, November 27, 2008: "We cannot ask Canadians to tighten their belts in tougher times without looking in the mirror."

    • Because the sunk costs of operating a fleet of CF-18s only exist when they appear in a photo op, right?

      The planes are already bought. The pilots are already trained. The fuel and operating costs will be incurred in normal training maneuvres regardless. What makes the Flaherty quote so hilariously cutting, exactly?

    • Because the sunk costs of operating a fleet of CF-18s only exist when they appear in a photo op, right?

      The planes are already bought. The pilots are already trained. The fuel and other ongoing costs will be incurred in the course of normal training and operational readiness maneuvres regardless. What makes the Flaherty quote so hilariously cutting, exactly?

    • Because the sunk costs of operating a fleet of CF-18s only exist when they appear in a photo op, right?

      The planes are already bought. The pilots are already trained. The fuel and other ongoing costs will be incurred in the course of normal training and patrol exercises regardless. What makes the Flaherty quote so hilariously cutting, exactly?

      • the sunk cost is not what Ted is raising and you are silly if you don't realize what the immense and not sunk costs of the jet fuel and prep cost is for running this specific set of CF18s fly-bys is.

    • "…and so considered, they asked neither Canadians nor themselves to tighten their belts, and nobody did. And that is how, via ever-more-extravagant photo opportunities, the Conservatives ended the recession and everybody lived happily ever after. Well, except conservatives, but there's no pleasing them anyway, is there? The end."

      Okay kids, come on, it's late. Time for sleep! G'night!

  3. Hopefully, the explanation why they were in the neighbourhood will be worth it.

    • Expenses aside, if you don't understand the rationale (regardless of whether you agree with it) then you haven't been paying attention.

      • Tell us Emmett, what is the rationale for all this huge and expensive display of military muscle? Is there anyone out there in this entire world challenging our sovereignty to our northern lands?

        • You really haven't been paying attention, have you.

        • Lands? No. But a host of countries all have claims to the Arctic and the surrounding waterways. At stake are potentially huge resources. Even the CBC thinks it's kinda a big deal: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/02/27/f-arcti

          I'm not saying I agree with Harper's exact strategy for pursuing Canada's claims, but, there IS indeed a rationale.

          • Right. And having big manly military excercise will help that?

            I'll quote from conservative military commenter Mark Collins (http://tinyurl.com/Harper-photo-opportunity):

            "I'm afraid that the Star has, along with almost everyone else, been taken in by the Conservative government's jingoistic nonsense about asserting Canadian "sovereignty" in the north. Your editorial states that "Canadians can be justly proud that Ottawa is affirming our sovereignty in the north." You also write that "…guns alone won't secure the future of Canada's north".

            Indeed, and there is no reason to feel pride. There is in fact no threat to Canadian sovereignty over our northern land. No foreign country makes any claim to that territory (the Danish claim to tiny Hans Island aside) [CONT…]

          • Canada's claim will be substantiated by having social and econimc infrastructure, not military. So dredge the bay in Iqaluit (see how quickly we learn to spell?), invest in the NTCL shipping system (barges of of goods shipped up the Mackenzie and eastward via the Arctic Ocean) do something about the prohibiitvely expensive cost of fruits and vegetables throughout the Arctic, help build housing, etc. etc. Flying around in jet fighters or skulking underwater in submarines doesn't benefit the Inuit or anyone else living in the north.

        • or is there anyone who is a potential threat (eg russia) that will actually be intimidated by our military muscle?

        • or is there anyone who is a potential threat (eg russia) that will actually be intimidated by our military muscle.

      • there's no business like show business

  4. Yeah, Ted. It's not like he was expensing a pack of gum or anything.

    • I'm entitled to my Dentyne.

  5. From the 2008 Conservative election platform:
    "A re-elected Conservative Government will continue to support rural and remote communities by investing in new infrastructure throughout rural and northern Canada."

    Really? Northerners are still waiting for the Conservatives to keep their election promise to make real investments in housing and infrastructure. Instead, they're wasting taxpayer's money on pseudo-macho military posturing.

  6. Personally I can not think of a better way to spend some of our tax money than on military training and a clear display of our ability to project our force in our North right now. Not only does Stevie boy get major kudos for this, especially making it an annual event as this has never happened before and once started will be damn hard for the Lib's to drop ,should they ever luck out and get control of the House. although that dream is receeding in the distance day by day. Harper is spot on when he says " Use it or Lose it " very simple and to the point and about as true as you can get.

    • See answer to Emmet above. Social and economic infrastructure is what will prove our claim to offshore rights.

      • Uh, we haven't yet made a claim for offshore rights. We're still developing our claim
        based on contiguous geologic structures. We've made statements. But the claims
        process is a formal undertaking with a limited time frame. We might barely make it
        before the school bell rings.

  7. What would happen if one day the media members just didn't bother to show up for these ridiculous photo opps? Really, what?

    • Conservatives would wine that this was proof of The Vast Leftwing Anti-Conservative Media Conspiracy?

  8. Their editors would yell at them?

  9. […CONT.]

    ; there is as much need to assert our sovereignty by increasing Canada's military and governmental presence in the north as there is in, say, Labrador. Yet no-one is suggesting that government take action to ensure Labrador stays safely within Canada.

    What is in dispute is Canada's claim that the Northwest Passage is Canadian "internal waters"–a claim that almost nobody else accepts, including the U.S., the European Union, and Japan. But that is strictly a maritime legal issue and quite separate from our undisputed sovereignty over the great mass of northern land. Areas of the Arctic seabed–to which Canada has yet to make a formal claim–are also in contention. But there can be no threat to a sovereignty that has not yet even been asserted."

    This is about Harper wanting some nice photos for his brochures, his website and his campaign ads. Nothing more.

    • It's for Putin. Putin sees photos of Harper, on boat with other boats and aircraft nearby, does a quick inventory – "All I have is this horse and my pectoral muscles" – and he totally backs off his own claim to the place.

      • This:


        . . . will never go away.

        Nor, apparently, will the interminable wait for 'The Stephen Harper Big Book of Hockey.'

        If Harper put the same effort into good governance, consensus and co:operation that he puts into PR and photo-ops . . . well, then he wouldn't be Stephen Harper, would he?

        • Ahh, Festus. That picture is worth a coupla million words' worth of explanation of why Harper is so careful now with his photo ops.
          Expect a press release from the PMO at any moment, explaining how the photographer who took that photo is to blame for all those extra fly-bys.

          • And more than a couple million dollars' worth of explanation.

    • The issue isn't just about the use of the Passage, or internal versus international waterways, but about claims to the resources and the extension of the seabed under the UN's Law of the Sea Convention. These claims stem 200 miles off of any coastal point, and are highly contested.

      Those in support of the military exercises have taken pains to note that much of international law is about the use (and demonstrable ability to use), or "exert" sovereignty over those waters. It's not about gearing up for armed conflict, but it is about showing Canada is capable of monitoring, policing and enforcing rules over waters believed to lie within our sovereign territory.

      You're free to think the expense is ridiculous. You're free to believe there's no real issues at stake. But the disputes are about a lot more than what the commentator you cite says…

  10. Who is questioning our sovereignty?

    The issue is about internal vs international waterways. We maintain that the northwest passage is an internal waterway. Every single other country in the world who has voiced an opinion disagrees. It is a international maritime law matter. And a very complicated one at that. Military might is not going to assist that in any way.

    • did I mention anyone was? – you completely missed my point – the real threats to a Nation are never obvious check out any war between nations ever and sooner or later it will all based upon an event that was a SURPRISE! .. you need to read some Sun Tzu a most excellent book. The issue is not is anyone threatening our sovereignity but what happens WHEN they do. Tha's right I said it! … sooner or later someone will so if we don't start preparing to defend what we have then we deserve to lose it – in otherowrds USE it or LOSE it!

      • Oh good grief, Wayne. So all of this display of muscle is to forestall some future WAR with some imagined future INVADER of Canada????? Read a history book Wayne.

        Can you please tell me when, since 1812, there has been any military attempt on any Canadian territorial space? Can you please tell me when, since ever, there has been any military attempt to take control of any part of what is now the Canadian Arctic? Can you please tell me when, since imperial times, there has ever been a country that has tried to take over another country's land, land that does not abut its own nation, and land that it has already and always acknowledged was Canadian??????

        I DO see some merit in building up our use of the north. But please, the hyperbole and kool-aid drinking espousal of Tory talking points to justify this photo opportunity are really really over the top.

        • Ted again you miss the point entirely : This gets tiresome … look let's use your citing of 1812 – where incidentally we won against tha Yankee attack – why did we win = we were prepared, on site, knew the
          terrain, mobile and had the support of an Alliance with the locals .. hmmmmmmmm .. let's project the extrapolation what if in 1812 upper and lower Canada decided your approach is better .. no need to prepare or train or even have any forward positions and supplies as after all the Yanks are our neighbours and friends and certainly would never attack us – do you get it yet? .. somehow I doubt it – not only is the focus on the North by Harper one that is not inspired by koolaid but is exactly what we need, are and will be doing – case closed – cont'd ->

        • by the way you simply can not be serious as nations have been grabbing land from each other continuosly – the problem with your position is that you are completely ignoring history take a moment and expand your limited horizon a few years – the last time on this particular (northern) part of the continent was .. let me see … I think Mexico and the US A – actually more recent was the Philipines by the Yanks and right before that good ol Roosevelt the roughrider – I tell you what try a thought experiment and pretend that the main aquifer for the USA suddenly drops a few points and the Yanks say they need our water and ask nicely and we say NO : this is no koolaid my friend because guess what the Aquafier is drying up and rapidly and is something you don't hardly ever see in the media because the response gets ugly … cont'd ->

        • right now the North is opening up and although there are no direct threats (that we know of) at present is not sufficient reason to not train and prepare and spin off some economic benefits to the locals . Frankly I don't get how any reasonable person who is not a political junkee (see hyper partisan) who could possible argure with it. Then again according to all the polls on this subject I see Harper gets major points on his appraoch so maybe the wisdom of the canadian voter will again seize the day as it were.

          • Oh my goodness, Wayne. I don't know where to start this is such an empty response from you.

            I did not say countries haven't attacked other countries for more land. Get serious. These were very specific questions. The point of them being: countries like the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark are not a threat and never have been a threat to Canada or to take our territory. Frankly, neither is Russia: even under the Soviets it has never taken over territory not contiguous with its borders where ethnic Russians lived.

  11. whine, not wine

  12. So, Harper's in a pre-election, taxpayer paid photo-op with little to offer the citizens where but a re-announcement.

    Yup, Canada of only 33 million people is going to be a military force to be reckoned with when we have Stievienook of the North at the helm.

    Good grief – when is this thing over.

  13. Harper is Canada. Canada is Harper. Only Conservatives love the military. The Military only loves the Conservatives. Get used to these phrases, they will be used quite a bit this fall.

  14. Not bad. But I still like go Toronto GO train being taken out of service for the day so that it can be turned around to face West to please the man-who-send-Christmas-cards-of-himself-admiring-himself.

    (The photo op took the train out of service for a day, because Mr. Harper insisted the locomotive should face west. “Normally all our locomotives are east-facing,” a GO staffer told me. GO took it over to the VIA yards to turn it around, and then turned it back around after the PM departed).


    I'm still puzzled as to – why??

  15. Am I the only who thinks that political leaders always look stupid in these photo opps? In the days when I actually wore a construction helmet, most of my co-workers were universally dismissive of VIPS wearing them for show. And I can't believe a frontline soldier would be actually have his or her morale boosted by seeing the Harper-Bush-Chretien-Obamas in soldier suits. Amused maybe.

    • I get your point, but it's worth pointing out that Harper and McKay aren't wearing helmets or "soldier suits" in the photo actually in question.

      The photo may still be silly, and one could argue the Ministers still look stupid (though my reaction is generally "Meh, whatever" regarding the photo, and "seems like a constructive use of military assets" wrt exercises in the North) but at least they didn't wear "costumes" for the occasion.

  16. And here I was wondering how much our starving military pissed away on Operation Hot Damn! Sydney Crosbie Is Hunkalicious.

  17. I'm impressed (/amused) at how serious the two gentlemen (whom I presume are the PM's RCMP security detachment) seem to be about their mission, given the context.

    The PM's in the Arctic, on a Canadian Forces frigate, accompanied by a Canadian Forces submarine, an icebreaker, and 3 CF-18s. Could the Prime Minister BE any more secure?

  18. [CONT]
    As for this silliness of the US invading us in 1812 so we have to be prepared for similar surprises. Please Wayne, don't start typing if you don't know what you are typing about. That battle was no surprise and had been building for years. Also, it was not an attempt to conquer Canada or any Canadian territory for Pete's sake. Also, Canada was not prepared for that war; in fact, they were far far less prepared than we are now to defend the north.

    More importantly though, comparing international combat and diplomacy today to 1812 shows how out of it you truly are.

    This was a photo opportunity and a chance for Harper to feel manly. That is all. Military might in the north does nothing to protect our interests in the northwest passage nor in the sea beds over which we have not claimed ownership.

    Does it make Canadians feel good? Certainly. Does it give any other nation pause to rethink their foreign policy plans for the north whatever they are? Get real.

    • have you vere actaully studied history becuase a lot of people were quite surprised with the yanks .. however .. I will let that one slide … you need to review your lessons and I am sorry I simply do not have any further time to assist you. See Manifest Destiny which is palatable start. Your use of Russia disproves your very point again .. how you don't see it is quite beyond me because you should .. partisan blinkers again I think in either event have you ever wondered the real reason Russia right now is grabbing more land as I type this sure in our modern day world we don't explicitly call it that we name it strategic alliance with our citizens who just happen to live right next where our competions pipleine happens to be etc but none the less it's a land grab by another name or China and Tibet again same same o!

      • Wayne: stopping making things up. Read Ted's responses.

        What non-continguous territory with no ethnic Russian inhabitants has Russia "grabbing"? What country has ever invaded Canada to take more land?

        And stop typing things you don't know about. Do you even know what Manifest Destiny means? It was not about territorial expansion.Read any analysis of the War of 1812 – even the most child-focused one – and you will read that build-up to the War of 1812 was about squabbles between the British and the Americans. Only a know nothing would claim it was about Manifest Destiny or American territorial expansion.

        There has never been a territorial threat to Canada, there is no territorial threat to Canada. There are not even any real security threats which is not to say there are no border issues like subs in our waters.

        The "sovereignty" concerns in the north relate to the northwest passage and oil in the ground. Having more soldiers with guns in the north does not address those issues, does nothing to advance Canadian interests.

      • I have two degrees in Canadian history, actually, Wayne, with a subspeciality in American history. How about you?

        • Well that just proves you are an elitist liberal. Using facts and grammar… despicable.

        • WOW—All that subsidized education and the end result is a naive partisan little man who refuses to give credit to a leader who is pro-active about protecting that which is Canada`s.

          If Wherry and his gang of grits cannot give credit would they please just shut-up ?

          • Here here. Only kool-aid drinking Conservative boosters should be allowed to speak.. and vote, come to think of it. Eh, William?

          • Please speak as much as you like Jason—-I`m just tired of these repetetive wind bags promoting their own agendas.

            Some leaders choose to have photo-ops with aging rock stars—-some choose to strangle weak street people— some choose to use back-packs and want to be green—-and some choose to have a photo-op in the North with our Armed Forces because that`s important to him.

            The incessant yammering about the lack of a present-day invader in the North is irrelevant and stupid.

  19. It's Not a Photo Op!!
    Leave Stephen alOOOOOoooooonnnnne! Snif.

    • That is a fantastic picture. Beautifully choreographed.

      • meh, I think I'd lose patience with it even as a postcard, which is the format that suits it most.

      • meh, I think I'd lose patience with it even as a postcard, which is probably the most suitable format for this style of photography.

      • meh, I think I'd lose patience with it even as a postcard, which is probably the most suitable format for this style of photo.

    • Hmm. Quite nice as a photo (artistically), but doesn't really communicate that iron-fist-in-the-iron-glove image we may or may not need. Frankly we need some socialist realism here: Harper, thin lips wedged into a defiant scowl, looking upward, framed by a sunburst of CF-18's, as he stretches for the North Star with his left hand, crushing the neck of the Russian Bear with one heel and, in his right first, squishing a big hunk of Danish blue cheese. Motto = "Nanook 'Em!" Royalties c/o Maclean's.

      • We need less expensively staged pictures of Harper surrounded by government equipment, and more of him shirtless. That'll scare the Russkies, and probably also the Danes.

        Take your shirt off, Steve! Do it for Canada!

        • Just warn us first, so we can avert our eyes.