When Michael Byers ran for election in the riding of Vancouver Centre, it's tough to believe that the fantasy scenario of an NDP government wasn't percolating in the back of his mind.
As an alleged "top expert" on global affairs, Byers certainly must have imagined himself to be a contender to be Minister of Foreign Affairs in such a government.
Few scenarios could even possibly be more nightmarish for Canadians. If Canada ever needed a Jimmy Carter of its very own to screw up foreign policy to the detriment of the safety of Canadian citizens, Byers would fit the bill.
Byers' recent objection to the Conservative government's decision to spend $16 billion purchasing F-35 Lightning II fighter jets -- a brilliant peace of equipment that is actually far more like the Harrier jump jet than the A-10 Lightning which is its namesake -- is indicative of why Byers would be such an utter disaster for Canada.
Not all of his objections are entirely unreasonable. Some of them centre around the idea that another jet -- perhaps the Eurofighter Typhoon, which has outperformed the F-22 Raptor in head-to-head war games -- may have been a better selection.
There's some merit to this. The F-35 is optimized as a ground-support platform capable of holding its own in the air -- but the Canadian air force could stand to also have a dedicated air-to-air platform as well. The Typhoon would fit that need splendidly.
But Byers seems to have an ideologically-skewed sense of what Canada's needs are in the first place. With Canada's fleet of CF-18 Hornets -- which have met Canada's needs admirably -- meeting the end of their operational lifetime, Byers' peacenick roots, and accompanying lack of priorities, can't help but shine through:
"it's not clear that fighter jets should be at the top of Canada's procurement list. The CF-18s were acquired to intercept Soviet bombers during the Cold War; today, Russia is a member of the G8, the Arctic Council, and a soon-to-be member of the WTO. It's largest trading partner is the European Union, which is made up mostly of NATO states.Canada could always put some fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft to good use at nearly any time.
Canada's most desperate procurement need is for fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft that could be built in Canada by Bombardier."
However, at a time when CF-18s are very literally falling out of the sky at an increasing rate, Byers' suggestion can't help but paint him to be like the Chretien government, cancelling contracts for desperately-needed helicopters to replace Canada's fleet of Sea Kings, which continued to fall out of the sky for several years afterward.
Not to mention this is the same Michael Byers who became indignant after Canada disrupted diplomatic relations with Iran over the handling of the Zahra Kazemi case -- sending a message to Canadians that, if a Canadian citizen being beaten and raped to death in an Iranian prison doesn't warrant a hiccup in diplomatic relations, that a Canadian passport wouldn't mean a hell of a lot in the most corrupt and tyrannical corners of the world.
Fortunately, with the NDP unlikely to get anywhere near Canada's halls of power -- even if they attempt another coalition -- the prospects of Michael Byers becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs are remote enough that Canadians can sleep without the slighest hint of discomfort at the idea.