Cheap Political Theatre

20 Sep 2011

L. Ian MacDonald for the Montreal Gazette:

I enjoy a story about wasteful government spending as much as the next reporter, and I’ve spent many hours poring over expense reports, but I’m having a hard time getting angry about the chief of defence staff’s flights.

When I first heard about this nonsense, I rolled my eyes and ignored it. It was a non-story. General Natynczyk, who runs our entire Canadian Forces, used a government Challenger jet to get from one point to another. What were the events that he was traveling to-and-from? Football and hockey games? Catching the Calgary Stampede? I don’t care, because that that does not get to the why of his appearances.

The chief of defence is not able to simply go home after long day and relax. He, at all times, required to be at the ready. We do not ask this of him. We demand it. So when he flies a state-of-the-art jet that allows him to get him places faster, we should be be thankful we have such a tool at our disposal. It isn’t a matter of comfort or privilege; it is a matter of efficiency.

If the NDP wants to attack wasteful government spending, I say go for it. Let’s start with the MPs and work our way up. But to start by attacking the man who runs our Forces for doing the job that we demand of him? It is cheap political theatre and our politicians, on both sides, should be above that.