|Avro ARROW CF105 Fighter 1959 photo courtesy of ArtEyePhoto|
I would not care to have the reader believe that Incoming Bytes is eternally earth-bound and contains only skepticism or criticism, or that it is intended to be so at all times, but the astute reader will also recognize with incoming news articles, bits and bytes of information, timing is everything. Specific commentary is often better placed immediately. So be it today. Recent announcement by Ottawa that Pratt & Whitney is being loaned $300 million taxpayer dollars “to create and maintain” jobs is worthy of just that commentary, and more.
Money itself is not the issue. Governments do waste money. The loan itself, funded by the taxpayer, is not the issue. It is mere peanuts compared to the unnecessary billion-dollar long gun registry, the unnecessary billion-dollar G-20 Summit security bill, and other just-as-creative but unnecessary government incentives, ad nauseam.
Don’t misunderstand, most Canadians will applaud the idea and agree the ‘creation and maintenance of jobs” is a wonderful thing, indeed, it is a worthy goal and mandate of any government, but in recalling the past and comparing it to the present, I do wonder. The memory is long, and curiosity often gets the better of me. The shadows of political backtracking, inconsistency, non-transparency, inexplicable decisions, foolishness and bureaucratic hypocrisy are seemingly brought to the fore.
In many ways it is a shame that the modern Wikileaks was not fully functional in 1959. That was the year the AVRO Arrow was shot down, not by enemy fighters or terrorists, but by Canada’s own slightly frumpy job-maker and his helpers who seemingly shot Canada squarely in the foot as they killed off a potential multi-trillion dollar industry. Fifty-one years after the AVRO Arrow, -- are the Conservatives changing their minds? How about some tongue-in-the-cheek? Can this bird fly? The Arrow was more than capable of flight at Mach 2.0 at 50,000 ft.
For anyone that has any meaningful recollection of the aircraft industry in Canada, today’s announcement must bring to mind the absolute contradiction in government policy with the willful and unprecedented destruction of the aircraft industry by the same Conservative government on February 20th, 1959 .
On that date, the highly successful Canadian aircraft and aerospace industry was dealt a mortal blow, as the highly advanced CF-105 AVRO Arrow fighter program was scrapped with little notice,and seemingly little justification then, or since that sad event.
That government decision was disastrous. Fourteen thousand aircraft workers, designers, aerospace engineers and hundreds of thousands of spin-off jobs disappeared overnight, as successfully-tested prototypes of the Arrows on the tarmac at A.V. Roe were ordered quickly chopped into little pieces to be sent for scrap metal and engineering drawings and plans were ordered destroyed. Arrow engineers quickly drifted south to the US industry.
The ARROW was proven to be a technically-advanced, performance-superior aircraft that was faster, equipped with weaponry that is still used today, and it’s performance remained unequaled by any foreign fighter aircraft until the mid-1980's. With a substantial market potential for both the aircraft itself and the powerful, all-Canadian Iroquois engine, the aircraft was all-Canadian and the Canadian aerospace industry was totally viable until the then Prime-Minister of Canada, John Diefenbaker and his Conservative government shot it down, --if only to make the American aerospace industry successful instead.
What happened, and what was the REAL reason? Worse yet, at what cost was such an arbitrary, foolish decision made?
Just for the record, Pratt& Whitney is reportedly using that loan to employ 200 more engineers to develop a lighter, more powerful engine, possibly even to be used in the “new” F-35's Canada will be purchasing.
Maybe the backwash from that governmental Arrow boo-boo has finally caught up. Extremely expensive American F-35's will now be purchased from the US Aerospace industry to replace the prohibitively expensive but aging American F-18's previously purchased from the US Aerospace industry. Is there any lesson to be observed here?
Will this bird fly, or is the latest loan an official admission that the fateful decision made 51 years ago to kill the Arrow was a “mistake” and has finally come home to roost?