As I mentioned a couple days ago, an odd computer problem is preventing me from participating in the comments debate on this website. I'm aware, however, that my recent posting on the Toronto Island Airport expansion has raised some issues that deserve a response. Here's one.
I grew up in Windsor in the 1980s, and if there ever was a time and a place where "jobs" were on the mind, it was then and there. Massive unemployment hit in the early part of the decade and the town would have done anything for jobs. If Trudeau suggested the government should buy a year's worth of Windsor-made Chryslers and dump them in the Detroit River, it would have made Windsorites and the (then) UAW members very happy. So, I certainly understand how precious jobs are to people.
There may be a place for considering jobs in government decisions, but there's also a limit, too.
I don't have a problem with the TTC, for example, giving some preference to a Canadian manufacturer when they need new subway cars (Google News backdoor). You need to buy them anyway, so the added benefit of creating jobs and investment in Canada is at least worth considering.
On the other hand, when a public project comes along that (all things being equal) we'd say is a bad idea, the fact that local jobs are produced should not come into the picture. A bad idea is just a bad idea, and the fact that the bad idea might produce some jobs as a side-effect doesn't change that.
No matter how desperate someone is for a job, it is not justifiable to support hiring them to do something which is harmful to the community.
So, either you feel that expansion of the Toronto Island Airport is a a good thing, in which case the local Bombardier order is just a happy bonus. Or, you feel that airport expansion is harmful to the community, in which case job creation is beside the point. This is particularly true as the airport is a public entity, not a private venture.
I'm sympathetic to workers looking to protect their jobs. But there is no reason to feel solidarity with people who put their own employment ahead of the interests of the community. By all means, they are welcome to try to make a living. But we can't support that at any price, just as we cannot and should not support corporate success without regard to the effects. This all became clear to me when I attended a debate on this very issue during the 2003 Mayoral election campaign:
I'm sure any CAW member reading this is going to consider me an asshole. In fact, I support Bombardier workers in their endeavours. I just can't go so far as to support expanding the functional capacity of an airport in the wrong location just so that someone will be willing to buy some airplanes.