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 Québec).
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.