Tuesday 24 February 2009

Remembering the Silver Dart

It's ironic that a few days ago Canadians had to remember the 50th anniversary of the destruction of a great plane, of our aviation industry, and of political stupidity of the highest order, and on February 23rd, we should celebrate the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Canada and in the then British Empire. This first flight took place on February 23rd, 1909 in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, near one of the homes of Alexander Graham Bell, whose Aviation Experimental Association had developed the Silver Dart. It was flown on Bras d'Or Lake near Baddeck on Cape Breton Island by J.A.D. McCurdy, a Canadian engineer who was a member of Bell's Aviation Experimental Association.

Just to show you that I'm not totally prejudiced against the Conservative Party, which is of course a perfect target for any intelligent human being, the Liberal government of the day refused to put any money into the development of Canadian aviation, demonstrating that none of the problems of small-mindedness which are plaguing Canada today are new, they've been with us for well over a hundred years. Oh Canada...

Saturday 21 February 2009

Remembering the Avro Arrrow

Fifty years ago, on February 20, 1959 (Black Friday), the Conservatives under John Diefenbaker killed the world's most advanced fighter interceptor, the Canadian-designed and built Avro Arrow and the Iroquois jet engine, then the world's most powerful jet engine. In doing that, they destroyed the Canadian aircraft industry for 25 years and also destroyed the livelihood of about 15,000 highly skilled Canadian workers and professionals at A.V. Roe and another 35,000 who worked in plants that supplied A.V. Roe. They did it because they had no vision of Canada, because they didn't believe in Canadian excellence, they preferred mediocrity then just as Conservatives do now.

Here are a few more pictures of what might have been one of Canada's greatest triumphs:

First flight on March 25, 1958

Jan Zurakowski, Arrow chief test pilot in 1998

The Arrow was the only plane in the world in 1959 that could fly at Mach 2 (about 2,500 km/hr).

Want to know more? Click here for the Wikipedia Arrow entry.

And here's a YouTube video of the first flight.

Monday 16 February 2009

First, there was Pierre Trudeau

With the impending visit of Barack Obama, my thoughts naturally turned tp Pierre Trudeau, one of the few outstanding leaders Canada has ever had. By coincidence, I recently watched a video about his life and I was struck by how similar were some of the things he said years ago to some of the things Obama has been saying recently. So I thought I'd post a few of Trudeau's sayings here (not necessarily those that resemble Obama's, but those that I've written down over the years). Oh Pierre, where are you, now that we need a man with vision and intelligence so desperately?

"We are going to be governed whether we like it or not: it is up to us to see to it that we are governed no worse than is absolutely necessary. We must therefore concern ourselves with politics, as Pascal said, to mitigate as far as possible the damage done by the madness of our rulers."

"A country, after all, is not something you build as the pharaohs built the pyramids, and leave standing there to defy eternity. A country is something that is built every day out of certain basic shared values. And so it is in the hands of every Canadian to determine how well and wisely we shall build the country of the future."

"Who speaks for Canada? Our strength lies in our national will to live and work together as a people. Weaken that will, that spirit of community, and you weaken Canada. Weaken Canada, and you damage all the parts, no matter how rich some of those parts may be. My friends, you and I must stand up for Canada, and we must see that there is a national government that has the courage to do so as well."

"What a magician this Mr. [Brian] Mulroney is, and what a sly fox! ... In a single master stroke, this clever negotiator has thus managed to approve the call for Special Status (Jean Lesage and Claude Ryan), the call for Two Nations (Robert Stanfield), the call for a Canadian Board of Directors made up of 11 first ministers (Allan Blakeney and Marcel Faribeault), and the call for a Community of Communities (Joe Clark). He has not quite succeeded in achieving sovereignty-association, but he has put Canada on the fast track for getting there."