Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An inauspicious start to Operation Nanook

As we scan the headlines, it's easy to see that Operation Nanook is not exactly shaping up to be the p.r. dream that was hoped for by the Prime Ministerial forces. The media are highlighting problems in the north that may not be getting a lot of attention this week when all the military rides are taking place. And they're pointing out the flaw of emphasizing the military so heavily within the Harper government's northern strategy.

Part of the problem may be that the summer tour in the Arctic shtick is getting a bit old now. While it will still produce a lot of pretty pictures, the media appear to be taking a bit more of a critical lens to the proceedings and exploring just what's been promised and what the follow through record has been (read Martin's column, linked to below, for example). That's the extra information that the public will get along with the pretty pictures this time around. Good job thus far in the coverage.

Here are a few of the recent headlines in the run up to the annual northern pageant:

"Stephen Harper's Arctic strategy is melting."

"The Arctic needs more than guns."

"Critics urge Harper to look beyond military buildup in the Arctic."

"Inuit will be hit worst by swine flu, leaders fear."

"Iqaluit boys sleeping on street raise alarms."

The last story being particularly evocative and already becoming a part of the week's story line. It makes for a very real and unfortunate contrast with what will be the highest profile event of the week for Harper, his helicopter landing on HMCS Toronto and a ride by small boat to a nearby submarine. As an additional headline appropriately reads today, "Visions for North are poles apart."