Willy Brant’s Diary
I just read a story about a Frank Meyers, age 86, having a tear in his eye. Seems that the government decided they needed his farm to form part of a training ground for ‘Special Forces’. His farm has been in his family since the war of 1812, that’s 200 years, since the queen granted his ancestor a tract of land in recognition of his ancestors service in that war. He had a tear in his eye as he watched heavy equipment demolish the family house and farm buildings. Heavy equipment sent by his own country, the one he and his ancestors fought for.
His farm was on one of the few tracts of really good farmland in eastern Ontario, near Trenton. Not far from Trenton air force base, which the government sees as justifying this action. Trenton Air Force base, like most of them, is built on good farmland, as that is often the cheapest place to build close to population centers, where the votes are. Of course it’s not a very good place for weather, lots of fog and so on, or for air traffic, being between Toronto and Montreal and not far from New York City, but again, that’s where the votes are.
Rainy day, and I was sitting there thinking how much cheaper it would be to build a military air base on one of the huge sand flats or big gravel eskers that litter the landscape in northern Ontario, a bulldozer could make a runway in an afternoon. Also thinking how much better it could be for weather and air traffic, when in walks Joe. So I invite him in out of the rain, saying “Good you are here, we can have a game of crib, there is cold beer in the fridge”, then I told him the story about poor old Frank being victimized, and my theory that air bases should be built in the north on better, cheaper land, away from the great lakes. “Damn politicians”, I concluded
Joe says,”well, yes, but don’t blame the ruling party, all three parties are guilty of pork-barrel politics, putting development where it buys votes. Look at the scandal Ontario got into moving gas plants to suit party politics. Same everywhere, I think pork-barrel is just the price of democracy.”
He thinks a bit, shuffling the deck while I set up the crib board, then goes on “And as for the north, it’s just a given that nothing can happen in northern Ontario, no matter how much sense it makes. Good local example is the water bomber training flight simulator. It was costing a lot to send water bomber pilots for refresher training from Dryden to Montreal to the Bombardier flight simulator, and a case was made that a flight simulator at Dryden would make sense, that is where the biggest bomber fleet is stationed., and it could serve all of western Canada. But Ontario put the simulator at Sault St Marie, closer to the votes, even though there are like 2 pilots stationed there. And it costs as much to go to the Sault from here, by way of Toronto, as it does to go to Montreal, so the new simulator saves nothing. The money was wasted, but hey, it went where the votes are.”
“Well, I got you there”, says I, “at least the Soo is in the north, so everything doesn’t go south!”. Joe just looks at me sadly, and says “It appears you haven’t noticed, the line has moved, Sudbury and Sault are now on the good side of the north-south line. Look at all the hoops Ontario is jumping through to make sure all the Ring of Fire jobs go to Sudbury. No, we are still doing a good job of keeping the north vacant, and guys like poor old Frank will continue to be sacrificed to keep all the development where it belongs, and that’s not north, no matter how well-suited a northern location might be”
Still, it’s too bad when guys like Frank have their lives ruined just to keep the north vacant.