Poor Paul Hellyer.
He agrees to speak at a UFO / Exopolitics conference (it seems even the organisers weren't quite sure which) in Toronto this past weekend. The news media pick up on it, and, all of a sudden, there he is - Canada's former Minister of National Defence, on the front pages of all the newspapers again.
Well, not the front pages, exactly, but at least he was in the paper, which for Hellyer is all that matters.
He's a somebody again. He's important. A Big Fish.
Sure, a Big Fish in a very, very, small pond - but still, a Big Fish.
For someone like Hellyer, however - a guy who once stood at the pinnacle of the Canadian political system, and then proceeded to flush his once-promising career down the toilet over a period of three decades, to the point where he exists now as little more than the answer to a trivia question ("what idiot put the Canadian navy and air force in army green?") - it isn't the size of the pond that matters anymore, but the size of the fish. Particularly when he's the fish.
Most important to the ETH proponents (and their more radical off-shoots, the True Believers), he was a VIP (sure, that was forty years ago, but they'll take what they can get these days).
He was going to blow the roof off the joint.
He was going to expose secrets.
In the words of one of the event organizers when he introduced Hellyer this past Sunday, "we are here today witnessing history."
As Hellyer's fellow speaker, exopolitics-activist / conspiracy theorist Steven Bassett, wrote:
"The Toronto Symposium will break new ground. It will mark thefirst time in history that any defense minister or secretary of defense of any first world nation (and possibly any nation) will state publicly that he or she is convinced the UFO phenomenon is extraterrestrial in origin." [see http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2005/sep/m23-007.shtml]
And then The Big Fish opened his mouth.
See his speech at http://www.checktheevidence.com/video/
Yes, he says, a few UFO reports came across his desk when he was Minister of National Defence (hardly a controversial claim, as I've shown over and over that it was the RCAF that was tasked with investigating UFO sightings until the National Research Council took over in 1968), but he didn't really look at them, because he had more important things to do.
More important things to do??
I guess that puts UFOs in perspective.
Someone asked him about Shag Harbour, and the Michalak case, both of which occurred on his watch at the Department of National Defence - and both of which were investigated by the Canadian Armed Forces.
Hadn't heard of them at the time, he said.
A top secret Canadian program to deal with UFOs?
Nope. No mention of it.
But he does believe that UFOs are real, that they are aliens, and that there is a massive government conspiracy. He even believes that they have crashed, and that we have reverse engineered their technology (clever little monkeys that we are).
Oh yeah - re: alien abductions, he stated that: "What crimes have they committed? The aliens may have mutilated a few cattle, and allegedly abducted a few people, but to the best of my knowledge, they have not killed anyone. So - are they really an enemy, or legitimate explorers from afar?"
To Hellyer, the answer is simple - they're our Space Brothers (the central theme of Exopolitics, and, before it, Contactee-ism).
And now the backlash has begun... sort of.
John Velez, a leading proponent of the reality of alien abductions (and who claims to have been abducted himself), wrote today at UFO Updates:
"If it had happened to him, and his wife and kids, he'd be whistling that little tune out of the other side of his mouth."
Velez's full comments can be found at: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2005/sep/m28-029.shtml
I don't blame Velez. Frankly, I don't know what to make of the abduction phenomenon, but if I was convinced that it was real, in the "aliens are doing it" sense (as Hellyer obviously does), then I wouldn't say (and I paraphrase here) "hey, they haven't killed anybody, so they can't be all bad, and we certainly shouldn't be building weapons to aim at them, like the evil Americans are doing right now."
Hey, Paul - FYI: if alien abductions ARE real, then it shows that the aliens ARE NOT our pals. Under these circumstances, building weapons against them is exactly what we should be doing.
Other than Velez, however, ufology is being pretty silent about Hellyer now, with the exception of a few, like Eugene Frison, who have been critical. Oh, and the ubiquitous Michael Salla, who views Hellyer's speech as a major event of world shattering significance (see http://www.exopolitics.org/Exo-Comment-38.htm for a good chuckle).
In short, it seems that the Big Fish has become the Big Flop.
Because they've finally figured out that he doesn't know anything, at least not in an official capacity.
Worse, he's not just another believer. He's an exopolitical, Phil Corso-reading believer.
If you listen to his speech, there can be little doubt of this. Hellyer began by calling Corso's book The Day After Roswell "one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. It is the unimpeachable source of what I am going to say to you today."
The sad part is that I think he believes that.
No surprise to some of us, but it's come as a major embarrassment for conspiracy theorists.
Because if anyone in Canada would have known about the Cosmic Watergate, and UFO secrets, and alien bases, etc etc, it would have been the Minister of National Defence in the mid 1960s.
That's what they were all hoping he was going to say, although if they had read his statements prior to the Conference, they would have known better.
Instead, nada. Nothing. "Rien," as they would say in Quebec.
Now, there are four possible explanations for this, three of which, I confidently predict, will be quickly employed by various conspiracists to try and "cover-up" this embarrassment.
First, they'll say, Hellyer lied (watch out, Paul - conspiracists will turn on you faster than you can blink). He knows exactly what went on (and goes on still), but he wouldn't say. Possibly he's a disinformation agent, or something like that.
He is Canada's real "cigarette man" (as opposed to the fictional one, as portrayed by Canadian actor William Davis in the X-Files television series - pictured above).
The second explanation will go in the opposite direction - he knows lots of stuff, but he's scared they'll "rub him out" like they did James Forrestal, or Edward Ruppelt, or James McDonald, or __________ (fill in the blank), so he has to be careful about what he says, and to whom. In short, he's not "cigarette man," but a Canadian ufological Deep Throat / Mr. X.
If those two don't work, or as an alternative, they will go with, "Well, he was kept out of the loop, of course." After all, the conspiracy is very restricted, and very few people are "in the Know" - despite the fact that the conspiracy is also massive. Hey - they never told him! They just fobbed him off with a few UFO reports. He didn't have MJ-12 Top Secret Restricted clearance. And so on.
This is what I call the "Sergeant Schultz" theory, after the Hogan's Heroes character (pictured above) who saw nothing, heard nothing - in short, knew nothing.
Which raises the question:
They told Wilbert Smith, and they didn't tell Paul Hellyer?
How much are you willing to pay for that bridge in Brooklyn again?
The third explanation is patently ridiculous, and the first two make no sense. The "he lied" explanation also has the added bonus of making those conspiracists who were all agog about Hellyer before the Conference look like idiots, although, given their mind set, this is the explanation that they might find the most palatable - "hey - we were duped again by the evil conspiracy!" Rather than knock some common sense into them, it will probably feed their peculiar brand of paranoia.
Either way, rest assured that the conspiracists will trot out one of the three explanations noted above (I confidently predict the "he was out of the loop" will be the front-runner) as the real reason behind what Hellyer said, and, more important, what he didn't say.
In the process, they will completely ignore the fact that there is a fourth explanation.
The conspiracists won't like it, but it's the one that makes the most sense.
It's the one that has always made the most sense.
Hellyer didn't know about a conspiracy, and didn't take UFOs terribly seriously while serving as Minister of Defence, because there is no conspiracy (at least, not the one the conspiracists are talking about), and no-one took UFOs as seriously back then as some ufologists now seem to think they did.
They were puzzled by them. They investigated them. That is beyond doubt. But, when they came to the conclusion that most could be explained, but some couldn't, they shrugged their shoulders and said, "well, that's that."
After all, what government would want to admit that there was something going on in the skies that they could not explain?
Besides, there were, as Hellyer stated, more pressing matters to deal with. Problems that they could solve, and that were of real concern to ordinary people (i.e. the voters).
There was no super secret Wilbert Smith research project. After all, Hellyer served as Minister of Transport from September 19, 1967 until April 29, 1969 - surely he would have been informed of Smith's work then?? Of course, if it had been that important, he would have already been informed as Minister of National Defence.
There was no super secret plan to get an alien spacecraft to land in Alberta.
There was nothing that did anything more than arouse Hellyer's - or anyone else's - curiosity.
That's the reality.
Because if there had been more to it than "the UFO phenomenon is real, but we have no idea what it is," then Hellyer would have known. And, unless he's lying now (see explanation #1, above), he would have said something at this "historic opportunity."
But he didn't.
If you happen to be a conspiracist, or Exopolitics type (is there a difference??), that sound you heard, once again, was...
For the rest of us, however, that "Thud" is the silver lining in this debacle.
Anyone who takes the study of the UFO phenomenon seriously owes Paul Hellyer a huge "thank you."
He's set the record straight... despite himself, and despite the efforts of those conspiracists and Exopolitical svengalis who fed him the information that he regurgitated on cue last Saturday.
P.S. As an aside, here's one of Canada's pre-eminent historians, Dr. Jack Granatstein, on Hellyer's tenure as Minister of National Defence:
"Defence Minister Paul Hellyer also ranks as one of the killers of the Canadian military. The idea of unification was not a bad one. The military should work together. However, Hellyer’s tactics were terrible: changing uniform and rank structures was not necessary to effect unification. Hellyer went too far and killed the Canadian military."