There have been protesters at City Hall and letter-writing campaigns. Talk-show lines regularly light up with callers cursing his name. But the uglier the political storm gets, the more determined Calgary's mayor seems in his refusal to let a few measly yellow ribbon decals adorn municipal vehicles, expressing support for the troops in Afghanistan.
But for five weeks and counting, the head of the biggest city in Canada's least-politically correct province has steadfastly battered through a war of his own making, fighting against putting the same stickers on Calgary vehicles, leaving citizens mystified at Dave Bronconnier's readiness to dig in deep on the unpopular side of a deeply populist issue.
Kudos to the mayor, for standing firm in the face of what amounts to national hysteria. It is funny that people have devoted so much energy and venom, on an issue that is really trivial in the scheme of things. Who cares if a few vehicles have a sticker, is it really a testament to national pride and loyalty? The problem, these stickers and other forms of expression have become politicized, and their presence blurs the lines between support for the troops and support for the war. Do you support the troops in their current mission? According to the polls, the answer suggests Canadians aren't exactly a monolith:
Conducted by Ipsos-Reid, the poll found 51 per cent of respondents across the country said they support the mission, while 45 per cent oppose it. The numbers remained virtually unchanged from a month ago.
"There's 24.5 million adult Canadians in this country and we have found that about 12.25 million have supported the mission and 12.25 million have been against it from the beginning. There has not been any drastic swings in support and opposition against the effort," said Wright.
Half of Canadians don't support the troops? Bullocks. I think the mission is flawed, desperately needs a re-think, places too much emphasis on military objectives, but that feeling doesn't translate to a lack of empathy or support for the people engaged. One's personal feelings about the war are irrelevant when you hear of death and I find it quite emotional to watch the images of caskets and fellow soldiers grieving for their friends.
Do were ever hear the "anti-war" crowd argue against spending on new armored vehicles, that provide better protection for the troops? No, because people are sophisticated enough to seperate the mission with the well being of the men/women. As a matter of fact, concern for wellbeing is a driving force in many people's resistence to this mission. If you conclude that we are engaged in a "whack a mole" scenario in Afghanistan, you see people dying needlessly and want it to stop. You don't want another mother to lose her son, in what you see as a flawed process. The soldier in question sees the value, you disagree, but that doesn't draw the co-relation the uber-nationalists like to argue. I'm sure they are a few relatives of the "fallen" who are against the mission, or question, does that mean they don't support their family member? If the mayor of Calgary doesn't support stickers, how is it that this translates to snubbing the troops, or lacking sensitivity?
This mission has reached a different phase, wherein we see the "with us or against us", "love it or leave it" mentality developing, with a vocal, grassroots lobby group trying to inflict their sensibilities on the rest of us. Put the sticker on your own car, that is your right. However, it is my right to dissent against using publicly funded vehicles, or highways, as a political statement. The argument is a illusion, no one is supressing anything if they don't support a statement, there are a myriad of avenues available that don't involve the herd approach. In many ways, I support the troops, I just don't support the troops supporters.