Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Harper suffering case of Air Force One envy

For the last two years the Privy Council Office -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper's department -- reportedly has been waging an internal battle with Defence Minister Peter MacKay over the paint job on the military's VIP Airbus.
According to newswire reports, the PCO has requested that the Canadian Forces' one VIP Airbus -- used by the Prime Minister in his travels -- be painted a distinguished white and red.
The CF, backed by MacKay, wants the Airbus to remain its current military grey. That's because it's one of only five Airbus transports in the CF fleet. When not on VIP duty it can be deployed for other duties, such as transporting troops.
MacKay, along with senior military officers, has reportedly suggested that the PCO's requested paint scheme would make the plane too visible when operating in unfriendly areas of the globe.
Sounds like a reasonable argument. Canadian soldiers are putting themselves in harm's way. They should have the best protection possible when deploying to the world's hot spots.
Does Prime Minister Stephen Harper have Air Force One envy? If so, he should keep it in check.
Painting the Airbus white and red would be akin to painting a bull's eye on it -- in effect reducing the CF's effective transport complement by one.
The reported tussle is interesting in other ways. MacKay is arguably among the most visible and qualified replacements for Harper, should his quest for a majority government fail next time round.
What does it say about the internal dynamics of the Conservatives' top leadership, if MacKay's wishes are continually rebuffed by the PMO?
If Stephen Harper doesn't like the advice he is getting from his defence minister, he should shuffle the cabinet.
Granted, that would be an unpopular move given MacKay's high visibility in the Conservative Party. Such a move would also further expose the PM to allegations that he is a micromanager.
The bottom line? Canada's military is one of the best in the world -- superbly trained and well-equipped. Our troops deserve to have the best protection, the best security, and the best chance for success every time they set foot on foreign soil.
Putting Canada's Prime Minister in a flashy red-and-white jet will not elevate his status any. Rather than worry about such trivia, the PCO should focus on how to better help Harper lead the country.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

$3 million for 30 seconds?

An estimated one-hundred million viewers will tune in for Sunday's Super Bowl match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. But for a handful of company executive's, there will be many anxious moments to see whether or not their multi-million dollar gamble pays off.
Thirty-second commercial spots are costing companies $3 million this year, and you really have to ask yourself why.
Does anyone remember what the top commercials were last year or the year before? I know I don't. But if I was really curious I'm sure in about 3 months one of the TV networks will have an hour long special JUST on Super Bowl commercials.
But beyond the $3 million for 30 seconds, I have to ask if that money really couldn't be better spent on something else, like ummmmm feeding the hungry, helping provide clean water to communities and countries that don't have any, or better yet simply making their products less expensive for everyone.
Let's face it, if Ford or Chevy (which will be utilizing the Bumble Bee Camaro in their Super Bowl commercials) can afford $3 million a pop, maybe they can afford to drop the price of their vehicles so that more people could actually buy one.
Sure the argument is the advertising works. I'm sure it does to a degree, so does advertising on radio, in print, online and none of those places are going to cost you $3 million - unless you want a full page ad in just about every major daily newspaper in North America.
But it's the glitz, the glamour, the "buzz" created as a result as it were.
I just don't think it's all that responsible.
We live in a world where the gap between the haves and have nots is growing. It is harder for people to make ends meet, it is harder to find a job as more and more people find themselves unemployment and their skills outdated.
It strikes me as a slap in the face to workers at a chevy plant who have been told their jobs are being cut only to find that on Super Bowl Sunday, the company who just said they couldn't afford me is paying $3 million for 30 seconds.
We have become so completely out of touch with reality, we don't know what it's like to be the ones with nothing, or very little.
While millions are being bet on the outcome of Sunday's game, many more millions is being spent on commercials very few will remember in a week or two, and the hungry will stay hungry, the poor will stay poor, and the unemployed will remain unemployed.
Wouldn't it be great if all of the money that just went into advertising during the Super Bowl went to helping our communities, our countries, our residents. Wouldn't it be great if the corporate giants that can afford to spend this money actually spent it on something that's going to matter?