Stealth Bombers over Summerside

I’m all for not going to war and all, but I’m with the Premier when he says it’s “primarily a business issue which is consistent with the objectives of the Slemon Park Corporation,” when commenting about the issue of American military use of Slemon Park.

The Slemon Park website is pretty clear about its pitch:

Slemon Park is a private corporation that is dedicated to providing exceptional facilities for some of the world’s finest companies in aviation, aerospace, commercial and light industries.

And then later on the same page:

Slemon Park has an airport with hangarage that can accommodate all but a few of the world’s largest aircraft. The airport has excellent entrepreneurial potential.

And finally:

Slemon Park is the perfect location to promote your training initiative.

The aerospace sector represents 20% of provincial exports; it’s a major part of the Island economy. It employs people.

One of the ways we kill people is with things that fly, and so in that 20% is presumably at least some material that will, at least indirectly, be responsible for blowing people up, making orphans, oppressing dissent, and so on.

For example: Honeywell “develops and produces cockpit display and mission management systems for the worldwide defense market.” Wiebel Aerospace “work[s] in the field of spare part distribution, and provide[s] support services to commuter, regional, military, and corporate operators.”

In other words, we’ve been supporting the war efforts of the U.S. for years — and the taxes and other benefits that have accrued to the province have paved our roads, healed our sick, educated our children.

It’s all very well and good to get all riled up about the headline issues; it’s another thing to try and build an integrated economy that sustains the people of the province. Social justice is important. We shouldn’t be living off the avails of killing machines. But social change isn’t affected by trying to micromanage institutions through the media: if you don’t like what Slemon Park is doing, run for office and get elected and have it do something else. Or join the Board of Slemon Park and guide it in a new direction. Or start an alternative business in Summerside that offers well-paying secure jobs to highly trained technicians so that they have employment alternatives. To continue with the “nightly press conference on Compass” approach serves only to make us feel all the more powerless, and takes the focus off approaches that might actually achieve the Good Aims we all seek.


Kevin's picture
Kevin on January 31, 2003 - 12:46 Permalink

Add to Jane Siberry and the movie “Consipiracy Theory” this article.

I’m not for or against Slemon Park bringing in the US military for training — but I am strongly opposed to any form of debate that sounds like it would limit same. I see much of the Leo backlash as precisely that.

I know it’s hard to respond to substance when the style is nto too your liking (you’z) but that, I feel, is what’s going on too frequently these days.

Alan's picture
Alan on January 31, 2003 - 13:53 Permalink

The private corporation thing is a bit of a red herring as Slemon Park is owned through share holding, as I understand it from reliable research, by the province like the other overabundance of government owned/propped private corporations out and about — that a pal-ish Board is in place is immaterial. The shareholders of any corporation are the ultimate operators guiding the policy operations — PEI runs Slemon just as it runs the ATC and Waste Watch. [These are examples of the 125 million per year real deficit the bond holders pointed out when they commented on how PEI was slipping into a poorer economic position.] That being said, the fact that PEI proposes doing somethings done in our surrounding communties of Goose Bay, Gander and Gagetown makes it something not new to the area. No man is an island, even PEI, despite the tunnel vision of an observer. Besides, in the Ottawa Valley, nice US, German, Norwegian, etc. kids with short hair bought loads of CDs at the shop my wife managed when they were on breaks from training at CFB Petawawa. They were lots better company in the local bars than the Canadian Airborne as well;-)

Alan's picture
Alan on January 31, 2003 - 17:41 Permalink

Aside from the wacky idea that this is somehow a corporation, looking again, Peter, I am really confused about your idea of the options at the hands of a citizen in a democracy — and I mean at a level abstracted from this particular debate. Your options are:

- run for office and get elected and have it do something else.
- join the company and guide it in a new direction.
- start an alternative business to replace the company

There seems to be no place for the citizen not taking a “leadership” position but still being able to say no and work activly for that position? Is the role of those others than the necessarily few who lead entities to sit by and bleet?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 31, 2003 - 18:10 Permalink

Alan, isn’t that the way we’ve organized our society? We’ve decided to save ourselves the trouble of direct government by the people by outsourcing to a select few in whom we invest the power to make our decisions for us. This affords us all more time to watch television, play hockey, eat, shop and go to the movies at the expense of some control over our lives. If we allow “government by press conference” then we are no better than the employer who hovers over his employees desks, managing their every move.

Rusty's picture
Rusty on January 31, 2003 - 18:56 Permalink

This was one of the best pieces you’ve written. I completely agree with every point you made. An example of lucidity and rationality.

Kevin's picture
Kevin on January 31, 2003 - 19:18 Permalink

Peter, if it was better organized it wouldn’t be by “press conference”.

I agree with the frame you create (too much democracy is simply a bad thing — innefficient and Byzantine) but the way you’re filling it might be a little too anarchic.

Fact is, yes, we do want to out source the running to others, but in a Public Corporation type of way; meaning that we get to steer it once in a while and trust that those who run the corporation will not always base their decisions on the most popular opinion in society.

If everything in our society was run on popular opinion, blacks would still be owned slaves, asians would be expendible railway labour, and O’Briens would be political commentators.

Alan's picture
Alan on January 31, 2003 - 23:22 Permalink

Peter — it is not how we organized society. Time to brush up on your poli sci 101. What you have described is somewhere between serial dictatorship and the worst of the uninvolved democracy in the US. The citizen is an autonomous part of the constitution superior of the legislative and the executive through the Charter in our country and other mechanisms such as Swiss referendums. Our court system is also subject to the population in the ultimate test of serious cases through the jury system. Sure, in certain places with a weak opposition, poor media, untendered contracts, government use of private corporations, etc., it can appear that your fellow man is without a say but in most democracies it is not the case.

Christopher's picture
Christopher on February 1, 2003 - 03:17 Permalink

er, that’s not what O’Briens would be…

Kevin's picture
Kevin on February 1, 2003 - 03:47 Permalink

Explain: I just realized that someone might interpret my last paragraph above in a way I didn’t intend. I guess it was a round-about way of saying that positive social change is frequently born on the backs of a small group who ‘will be heard’. If rights were decided by popular opinion few of us would enjoy our current spectrum of rights.

Alan's picture
Alan on February 1, 2003 - 17:07 Permalink

Christopher — that is an intreging prospect, isn’t it. We would all be required to vociferously state our opinions on everything in 1000 words or more!

to-el's picture
to-el on February 1, 2003 - 17:29 Permalink

Christopher Now! Explain! Sit, down, retrieve, heel — good boy.

Christopher's picture
Christopher on February 1, 2003 - 23:59 Permalink

now, now, boys… the intriguing proposition was where various folks would be if their lot was determined by popular opinion. Sadly, Kevin was prolly right in terms of blacks, Asians and other minority groups (goodness, look how long female suffrage took to achieve). I was having some problem detecting the tsunami of public opinion which would have propelled the O’Brien lifeform into the claimed trajectory. Of course, it is possible that the chaps at Tim’s talk of little else…