Are Social Justice Warriors In Charge Of Federal Policy?

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Ron Benn 6 months ago.

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  • #744999 Reply

    Ron Benn

    I noted an article on Reuters Canada that reports that just one day after signing a $233 million agreement to sell 16 helicopters to the Philippines, the federal government has ordered a review of the deal.

    Just one day after? What happened in the intervening 24 hours? Well, there was quite the uproar on social media about the possibility that the Philippine government, led by strongman President Rodrigo Duterte, might use these helicopters in its ongoing battle with rebels.

    Did no one involved in making that decision, and trust me that PMO would have been aware, think about this first? Is it possible that the PMO is creating policy based on the feedback it gets from social justice warriors?

    Maybe having a person who is playing the role of prime minister isn’t our biggest problem. Maybe it is the people who are writing the screenplay who are the real problem.

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    #745023 Reply

    Bob LeDrew

    Define “social justice warrior” please?

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    #745059 Reply

    Ron Benn

    Bob, defining SJW is a bit like defining middle class. It means whatever is most convenient to the user. According to Wikipedia, social justice warrior is a pejorative term referring to an individual who acts out of a need for personal validation rather than from any deep seated conviction. I think that sums it up pretty well.

    Please understand, I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with seeking more social justice. Where the problems arise are that far too many people spend more time worrying about what to wear to the next protest than they do trying to understand the complexities of the issue at hand. They see one side of the six sided cube, paying scant attention to why something has happened, what range of alternatives might be considered. Instead, they focus on the injustice that some identifiable group has suffered, or continues to suffer. In short, they are overcome by zealotry.

    In the case at hand, the Philippine government made it known early on that the helicopters were going to be used by the military. The same Philippine government has been, for a number of years, waging an ongoing battle with insurgents, some of whom fit the general description of Islamic extremists. The same Philippine government has taken, to be generous, extreme measures, without what we in the West consider due process, against individuals who they believe to be selling narcotics on behalf of warlords, who use the proceeds of those sales to fund their empires.

    To be clear, I am not trying to justify the measures that the Philippine government uses. What I am trying to point out is that there were no new developments in the Philippines between the time that the sale of the helicopters was announced and the day after the announcement. The only difference between yesterday and today was that a few social media “channels” went viral about how Canada was selling weapons to a thug like Duterte.

    Should federal government policy be based on the reactions of people on social media? I suggest that that is not the sign of a mature government.

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    #745112 Reply

    The Voter

    I would suggest that the sign of a mature government is that it doesn’t make these deals in the first place.
    This deal would have crossed many desks before being approved and it boggles the mind to think that there is no check along the way to look at what the item is going to be used for. Duterte himself has provided info about him throwing someone out of a helicopter – is that what we’re providing him with helicopters for?
    He also brags about the lack of due process when he goes after drug traders. Should we be enabling that?
    I don’t think the issue here is who drew attention to the deal but the deal itself. Your question should be “Is Anyone In Charge Of Federal Policy?” since the fault lies internally, not externally.
    About the definition of “Social Justice Warrior” – Wikipedia is not a dictionary but a repository of people’s opinions. The term was coined by American Conservative right-wingers as a pejorative for almost anyone they don’t agree with which covers a large swath of society. At various times and in differing circumstances, most centre and left-of-centre people would be included in the category. For example, I’ve recently seen George W. Bush referred to as an SJW and a leftist for his comments in Abu Dhabi on current affairs.

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    #745163 Reply

    Ron Benn

    Voter, your response is consistent with the very reasoning that drives so much of the social justice movement -“I don’t agree with the decision, therefore the decision was wrong”.

    Let’s examine this decision from a different side of the cube. The federal government was unlikely to have been involved in the origination of the sale. That was most likely the result of the Philippine government seeking some helicopters of a certain specification and Bell Helicopters, a multi-national entity, responding to that “RFP”. The federal government’s role in this sale of helicopters to the Philippines is likely limited to two separate departments or agencies.

    First is the export permit. The officials within the responsible department (forgive me if I don’t recall the name that that department goes by, but the federal government changes department names with such frequency that one requires an interactive program to keep current) would have had requested the seller (Bell Helicopters) and the purchaser (the government of the Philippines) provide them with all of the standard information the government of Canada requires to issue an export permit. Presumably that information was provided, and according to the Philippines, it included a description of what the equipment would be used for. I think it is also fair to assume that the sale of helicopters to the Philippines was not on a “do not export” list.

    The Canada Commercial Corporation is the federal agency that provides a defined set of financing tools, operating in a manner similar to the Export Development Corporation. EDC is involved between two commercial enterprises, while the CCC steps in when there is a foreign government involved. In either case, the EDC and the CCC effectively guarantee the payment by the purchaser, for a fee. Again, the good and learned people who populate the desks at CCC would have asked a number of pertinent questions, and based on the decision to support the sale, would have been satisfied with the information provided.

    So, two federal departments/agencies vetted the transaction, and approved it. Given the profile that the Philippines has, it is inconceivable that someone in either or both of those departments/agencies didn’t ask the standard question “How will this look on the front page?”. In short, the transaction met the stated requirements and limitations set by the federal government and it passed the “will this embarrass the Minister” test.

    Lo and behold, a day after it hit the front page, and the (perjorative term meant in the context that you provided) SJW’s had a field day, imagining all sorts of nefarious alternative uses – gun ships hunting down innocent insurgents in the dark of the night, President Duterte single handedly capturing someone he doesn’t like (the list is quite long), tossing the poor soul in the back of the helicopter, and taking him for a non-round trip flight etc. My sarcasm is well placed, not in your instance Voter, but towards the rhetoric posted by more than a few SJW’s.

    So, if there was a failure in the first set of decisions, it was in not fully comprehending the inaninities that sprout like mushrooms on the internet, and thus the decision that this would not embarrass the Minister. The second failure was in the PMO, for responding to those inanities, failing to understand that mushrooms grow quickly in manure.

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    #745167 Reply

    Ron Benn

    Just a few additional thoughts on the topic, based on recent news articles. According to an article in the February 10 National Post “Liberal sources blamed the previous Conservative government for initiating the deal.”

    How long does this government get to play the “it was Harper” card? They have been in power for more than two years. The implication is that the Trudeau government never updated its criteria for export permits on military equipment and financing support, even though we live in an ever devolving geopolitical situation. I will take them at their word, which is no, they either didn’t think it was necessary, or they were too busy to put any thought to it, just yet. Either way, this is not the fault of the long since dissolved Harper government. The initial decision and subsequent reversal rests solely on the shoulders of the current federal government.

    Second question. Why did it take more than two years to approve the transaction? Businesses need to operate in an environment of relative certainty, to make long term decisions. Two plus years to approve an export permit and a payment guarantee? Seriously? The only certainty provided here is no certainty at all.

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