July 23, 2011

New Jets logo: militarization of our hockey continues

J. Boyden

The Winnipeg Jets have crash landed.

The hockey team, supposed to bring good hockey back to a city with some of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods, has revealed its new design -- which features a killing machine.

The Jet's new logos were released Friday. The main design is a blue circle with the metallic grey silhouette of a McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet fighter jet above a red maple leaf, mirroring the Canadian air force's roundel. The Hornet is the same jet the Canadian military has deployed to bomb Iraq, Yugoslavia and now the million-dollar-a-week "humanitarian" destruction of Libya.

The design was put together by True North Sports and Entertainment (the union-busting company who own the Jets), the NHL and the transnational corporation Reebok. A secondary logo features a fighter pilot's set of wings.

“We felt it was important to authenticate the name Jets and we believe the new logo does that through its connection to our country’s remarkable Air Force heritage, including the rich history and relationship that our city and province have enjoyed with the Canadian Forces,” Jets owner Mark Chipman told reporters at a news conference.

That history and relationship starts with the bloody military suppression of the Metis and Red River people's uprising, which lead to the hanging of leader Louis Riel and the founding of Manitoba. One of the latest chapters was written by Operation Charging Bison, when over 500 Canadian troops (backed by helicopters, armoured vehicles, and artillery) took-over downtown Winnipeg for urban-war games.

True North Corporate Welfare

Winnipeg’s poverty is most highly concentrated in the inner-city (a recent report on poverty in the city by feminist writer Erin Vosters notes that over half of all inner-city households are affected by poverty, and many are Aboriginal families). That is also exactly where the MTS centre, future home of the team, is located.

Last May, protesters gathered outside the P-3 privitized MTS centre to oppose the spending of public money on the hockey capitalists.

“This is being rammed down on the public without any idea of what we’re facing,” Darrell Rankin leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Manitoba Committee) and organizer of the demo told the Winnipeg Sun at the time. “We don’t think it’s right to support union-busting billionaires that are going to buy an NHL team and want even more public money.”

Despite urgent demands for affordable social housing in down-town core, the provincial NDP has instead agreed to refurbish the MTS Centre for the Jets. The MTS Centre and True North contracted out the work of the 220-member International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 63, which staffed events at the old Winnipeg Arena.

Growing militarism of economy, society

The design comes after major controversy surrounding the Harper Conservative government's purchase of replacements for the CF-18 from US munitions giant Lockheed Martin. The total cost of the new F-35 fighters quadrupled in just two years.

Pentagon figures now indicate that the total cost of this purchase over a thirty‑year period is expected to hit $29 billion, a staggering sum for a country with serious social and economic problems.

The new Joint Strike Fighter, which carries more bombs and weapons, is not designed for defence, but rather offensive bombing runs. As a single‑engine aircraft, it is reportedly unsuitable to patrol the Canadian Arctic. The F-35 is just another example of the Harper Conservative Government's massive increase military spending and the adoption of a much more bellicose, overtly imperialist foreign policy.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, “the Canada First Defence Strategy, unveiled by the Harper government in 2008, promises that Canada’s military spending will continue to grow by an average of 0.6% in real terms (adjusted for inflation) and an average of 2.7% in nominal terms (not adjusted for inflation) per year from FY 2007‑08 to 2027‑28″. Total spending over the 20‑year life of this plan would likely be in the $415‑440 billion range (2009 dollars), or about $13,000 per Canadian.

On top of the massive increase in military spending there has been a renewed attempt towards the militarization of Canadian society. Recruiting booths, promoting the military's activity like the imperialist war in Afghanistan or the military "aid" to Haiti, are now common across Canada from Naniamo's Bath tub races on Vancouver Island to sports events in Halifax.

The Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg's previous AFL Hockey team before it re-acquired the Jets, held special "Manitoba Moose Military Appreciation Nights."

One of the most outspoken proponents of this pro-war jingoism has been controversial hockey commentator Don Cherry, already known for his sexist, homophobic, racist and anti-Quebec statements.

Cherry, who makes a special point of commemorating the occupation of Afghanistan in his commentaries and has started referring to hockey players as troops, went as far as visiting Afghanistan and signing bombs last December.

In response, a group called Hockey Fans for Peace formed, successfully staging several actions outside hockey games and engendering widespread interest and support.

Hockey Fans for Peace points to polls showing that the vast majority of Canadian's oppose the war in Afghanistan. Already, a significant number of the population are against the bombing of Libya (a majority in Qu├ębec).

Hockey Fans for Peace also encourages other sports to refrain from promoting support for the war in Afghanistan. The group calls for the NHL and the mass media to end the practice of using hockey games and broadcasts to promote the view that full support for the war is the only acceptable position for any genuine hockey fan -- or to give anti-war fans equal air-time.

Their message is a timely one for the owners of the Winnipeg Jet's.

Millions of Canadians enjoy hockey - and also oppose militarism and war.
- Comments


  1. Thank you.
    The advent of sport arose from the need to settle disagreements without bloodshed. Our national game Lacrosse is a perfect example of this. The Olympic Games also at one time held this view as well. What we are seeing with this logo is nothing less than the attempted brain washing
    of our youth with the same message that Mr.Harper sends, supporting War is Patriotic.

  2. Could you please provide a souce and specific details on how many CF-18's the Canadian Forces has deployed to Iraq?

  3. Thank you for your question regarding Iraq. In 1991 Operation FRICTION deployed at least two squadrons during the first Gulf War. I am not sure of the Wing names.

    Since you are a vet you might know how many aircraft that would be? It could be anywhere between four and twenty four, perhaps. They apparently completed over fifty bombing runs. I do not know if they were involved in the notorious Highway of Death, where the US bombed retreating Iraqi's.

    More information can be found in the book Operation Friction 1990-1991: The Canadian Forces in the Persian Gulf, by Richard H. Gimblett and Jean H Morin (Toronto, 1997).

    There is also an article about FRICTION on Wikipedia which claims it was the first time since the Korean War that the Canadian military had participated in offensive combat operations.

    The first Gulf War, the ensuing genocidal sanctions, the second Gulf War and the occupation -- this has all been a great bloody genocide by imperialism.


  4. Thank you for your comment about Lacrosse and sports being a message of peace. I totally agree. There is nothing anti-sport by being anti-war, but war has nothing in common with good sportsmanship/sportswomanship.

  5. The Jets logo is only one of the examples of the militarization of hockey. Intermission announcements, pre-game ceremonies, politicians at games, and it's not just Don Cherry either.

    My question: Does the average soldier really want the equivalent of a bunch of blindly cheering loyal fans behind them? I thought WW1 and WW2 taught us the consequences of blind faith in "the home team"? Doesn't the average soldier, the one who ends up paying the biggest price, know better?

    Don;t get me wrong, veterans should probably get free season tickets for life, and should definitely be treated about 50X better than they are, but I thought the decision to go to war - or to love your country for that matter, was more complex than this stuff I;ve been seeing. There's too much of a slippery slope between "supporting the troops" and "supporting the war". A hockey arena has got to be one of the most dangerous places to mess with that. Winning or losing a hockey game has nothing to do with winning or losing a war, but the folks watching just might not know the difference.

    I thought that blurring the lines between hockey and war was a line we didn't cross.

    I wonder, is it just me, or is this a relatively new phenomenon? This trend is starting to worry me.

    Anyway thanks again for the article.

  6. Thanks again for the comments. Glad to see the article is generating discussion.

    We agree that there is really no clear line between the American-style yellow ribbon campaign "support the troops" and support imperialism [bombing/sanctions/ occupation/war/etc].

    However, Canadians should ask -- who really supports the troops?

    On the one hand, the Canadian military basically has a monopoly on the discourse of "support the troops" which uses to even silence or discredit criticism from military families who have lost their children.

    On the other hand, the policy of the military is to march the troops into dangerous live-threatening situations (what else is war?) on the empty basis of 'valor,' etc.

    But why? Conflicts can be resolved by diplomatic means in today's day and age. And (as Cuba pointed out at the UN) the Responsibility to Protect doctrine (R2P) is a smoke-screen to cover up the total violation of a countries sovereignty. For example, Libya.

    Do we have a military to protect us from US invasion? Hardly -- the Canadian and the US military are now "deep integrated."

    So you could say that there is no reason for having an imperialist military that puts its troops into great danger. How is the military supporting the troops by doing this?

    But further -- these friends of the troops actually 'short change' them on the necessary physical and emotional/mental health treatment as veterans.

    Moreover, military housing conditions are poor. There is long-standing systemic violence against women on military bases.

    Who is supporting the troops here?

    I think it is those who say bring the troops home now, cut the military budget by 75% and transforming the military into a force designed to deal with emergencies and disasters like floods or forest fires that threaten communities.



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