Military won't talk about Snowbirds' future

The Department of National Defence has indefinitely postponed an explanation about the future of the Snowbirds.

The aerobatic team is on a list of several squadrons the Canadian air force could eliminate. Members of the team say the armed forces would lose a powerful recruiting tool if they get rid of the Snowbirds.

Capt. Emmanuel Belanger says he's proud to be a member of the Snowbirds and he hopes he won't be one of the last. "When you are a member of the Canadian armed forces you are subject to the rumours and speculation, so we are really, really used to it."

The air force is considering getting rid of the team when it eliminates the Tutor aircraft the squadron uses. Capt. Eric Pullman says eliminating the Snowbirds would be a major loss.

"What most of us really feel in our heart is the ability to possibly touch a few kids across the country and give them some sort of motivation through providing a good role model,'' he said.

For its part, nobody at National Defence is willing to talk about the plan.

Spokesman Col. Walt Natynczyk dodges the question when asked why the Snowbirds are on the chopping block. "I guess that question is again outside the ambit of this operational brief and I would refer you to the public affairs folks, or to the minister's office, with a question of that nature," he said.

But no one's talking. Sources in the armed forces say at least one general was ready to explain why the air force might have to get rid of the Snowbirds. Then Prime Minister Jean Chretien stated he was against the plan.

Now the generals are silent. Armed forces spokesmen say a briefing about the air force that was supposed to be held this week has been postponed indefinitely.