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Let’s tell the truth about balloons

Up, up and away

My beautiful,

My beautiful balloon.

-Fifth Dimension

I’m a little chagrined that all the good balloon jokes have been used before now, but if one pops into my head, I’ll pass it along.

With the world, or North America at least, all agog over Chinese spy balloons and other flying ‘objects’ in the skies over Canada and the U.S. I kind of wonder what the fuss is about. We seem to accept that pretty much every major power of the world and many of the large corporations, have spy satellites.

They’ve been around for the decades. So we don’t mind if pictures of us are being taken from 120,000 feet up but get all goofy when they’re taken from 60,000 feet? Both are probably of better quality than your average gas station heist surveillance snap taken from six feet away.

Don’t get me wrong, we need to take these things seriously and shooting down the objects was the right thing to do.

What irks me is the some of the reaction … mostly coming from ‘experts’ on the news channels and politicians, namely that Canada had to rely on the U.S. to shoot down the object over the Yukon.

The Conservative Party’s critic for northern affairs and arctic sovereignty, Bob Zimmer, even got in on the act.

“Eight years of Justin Trudeau has left us incapable of defending ourselves, as the prime minister was forced to ask our American neighbors to shoot down the unidentified object over the Yukon with one of their F-22s,” he said in a news release.


As the critic for northern sovereignty, one would hope he understands NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defence Command) is a joint operation between the U.S. and Canada. If there is a threat, both countries will respond.

That is exactly what happened.

Canadian fighter jets were scrambled out of Cold Lake, Alberta and U.S. fighter jets were sent from Alaska. They were all given orders that the first one there with a good shot, should take it. The U.S. got their first. Maybe their jets are faster, maybe they had less distance to travel. I don’t know.

But they got there first. So what? That’s what the NORAD defence system was designed to do.

It was disappointing, but not surprising, to see Zimmer and other ‘experts’ not just bend the truth, but ignore it, and paint a picture that Canada had to beg the U.S. to shoot down the object. It was also disappointing that many media outlets didn’t correct these statements.

I get that it’s part of an argument suggesting we need to pay more attention to our defence systems in the Arctic. That’s a legitimate issue and these ‘objects’ have driven home the point that we do need to do more. But let’s have that discussion based on facts.

Cruising under your radar

Watching from satellites

Take a page from the red book

And keep them in your sights

Red alert, red alert

Distant Early Warning (Rush)




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