Lewis Carroll, he of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass fame, once wrote that life is but a dream. If he was right, I think I’d like to wake up now.
The reason? To paraphrase another famous British author, this time the Bard of Avon himself: This is the winter of my discontent.
As the grip of winter settles in across Canada, and we once again begin to speak of wind chill factors and Alberta clippers, a number of high-profile talking points are sure to fire up the blood.
One news item that particularly irks me is the federal government’s continual fouling of military appropriations. These large-dollar purchases affect not only our business outlook, but our security as a nation, and it seems that we never get it right.
Just look at the downright Homeric process of bidding, cancelling, and flip-flopping that happened recently to replace our ancient fleet of Sea King helicopters. The task was a bloated, expensive government appropriation.
The latest military spending debacle is the Joint Strike Fighter. The feds just announced we are ponying up $36 million so the nation’s businesses can remain participants in Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program – but only until September 2017 -- all the while cozying up to Boeing and buying Super Hornet jet fighters.
It’s likely only a matter of time, however, before LM and the other participant countries in the F-35’s 15-year-long design and production process, seek to end Canadian involvement because we are no longer interested in purchasing the aircraft.
And, although the estimated $300 million it will cost to move away from this project is a fraction of the roughly $44 billion it will cost to purchase and maintain the F-35 fleet, the taxpayer is left wondering if there was anything else the time and money could have been better spent on.
Big spending by governments, whether it’s on the military, infrastructure, or foreign aid, should reflect the will of the constituent.
Manufacturing in Canada is responsible for 10 per cent of the country’s GDP, but only recently has the sector started receiving the respect it deserves by having funding made available for projects both large and small.
Remember, if your shop isn’t innovating, it will end up being a manufacturing Neanderthal in a world full of Cro-Magnons, outclassed, outevolved, and, eventually, extinct.
Joe Thompson has been covering the Canadian manufacturing sector for more than a decade. He is responsible for the day-to-day editorial direction of the magazine, providing a uniquely Canadian look at the world of metal manufacturing.
A graduate of the Sheridan College journalism program, he has published articles worldwide in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, pharmaceutical, medical, and entertainment.