MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – August 10, 2012
- Syria Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister heading east to talk, find out whazzup “Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, on the eve of a trip to the Middle East, says Canada is concerned the Syrian uprising could destabilize the region and cause further political instability. Baird made the comments in an interview with Postmedia News Thursday, as he prepared to fly to Lebanon and Jordan, where he will meet with senior political leaders and tour a refugee camp teeming with Syrians who have been displaced by the crisis. “I want to go and to see first-hand the situation on the ground and also have discussions with leaders in the area,” said Baird. “Obviously, we want the violence to stop and we want to tackle the humanitarian crisis. We’re also tremendously concerned about the crisis destabilizing Syria’s neighbours, particularly with respect to Jordan and Lebanon.” The move is the latest of the Harper government’s diplomatic measures — mainly a series of escalating sanctions — aimed at punishing Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for his brutal crackdown on protests that have left thousands of Syrians dead ….”- more from the DFAIT Info-Machine on the mid-east trip here.
- From the PM’s statement for National Peacekeepers’ Day (August 9): “…. we pay tribute to all Canadian peacekeepers who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and to those who continue to work tirelessly to defend our interests while promoting the democratic values that we, as Canadians, hold dear. National Peacekeepers Day commemorates the tragic day in 1974 when nine Canadian soldiers were killed, when their plane was shot down in the Middle East. Since that time, other Canadians have also made the ultimate sacrifice on important peacekeeping and military missions around the world, most recently in Afghanistan ….”
- From the Minister of Veterans Affairs on National Peackeepers’ Day: “…. we pay tribute to the men and women who, through their service and dedication, have contributed to peace around the world. We can be proud of the role they play as Canadian peacekeepers. They provide humanitarian assistance and maintain security in troubled areas while risking their lives in order to ensure security in the world. National Peacekeepers’ Day is about recognition and commemoration: of peacekeepers past, present and yet to come and their families; recognition and thanks to those who help make the peacekeeping duty less arduous; and remembering those who have died in the service of peace. Canadian peacekeepers play an essential role in promoting peace in the world and it is our duty to recognize the importance of their contributions. By marking this special day, we can celebrate and express our pride in and our gratitude to these men and women ….”
- Remembering American peacekeepers killed in a 1985 plane crash in Newfoundland
- “Soldiers and veterans seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder should be screened closely for major depression, say the authors of a new Canadian study that shows depression is the single greatest driver of suicidal thinking. Appearing in this month’s issue of The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, the study of 250 actively serving Canadian Forces, RCMP members and veterans comes as record numbers of suicides are occurring among American troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, and as the number of suicides reported among Canadian Forces personnel last year reached its highest since 1995. In vets diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, about half also experience symptoms of major depressive disorder at some point in their lives, the authors of the new study write. But “the task of predicting which people may be at an increased risk of completing suicide is a complex and challenging care issue,” they said. The new study involved 193 Canadian Forces vets, 55 actively serving personnel and two RCMP members referred to the Parkwood Hospital Operational Stress Injury Clinic in London, Ont., one of 10 specialized clinics funded by Veterans Affairs Canada to treat vets with psychiatric illnesses such a post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from military operations ….” You have to be a member of the Canadian Psychiatric Association to access the full article, but you can read the full summary here (starts in middle of page 1).
- Canada’s in there, too “The U.S. is one of six NATO countries that continue to use animals for military training despite modern trauma-training technology being widely available, according to a new international survey. Of the 28 NATO countries, 6 of them – Canada, Denmark, Norway, Poland, the U.K., and the U.S.— reported using animals in invasive and often deadly procedures on animals for military training ….” Canada’s official response to the survey? From the Defence Research and Development Canada : “I can confirm that as a member of the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) which establishes the national norms on the use of vertebrates in research, teaching, and testing, DND does, when no other scientifically valid alternative exists, use animals in defence research/training activities.” According to what little there is out there in the public domain, at least in Canada, at least some of the pigs appear to be asleep during research (or their stem cells are used for medicines – more here ).
- New boss for CFB Halifax “A former director of NATO’s training operations for the Afghan National Police in Kabul has assumed command of Canada’s largest military base. Naval Capt. Angus Topshee replaces naval Capt. Brian Santarpia, who took command of Canadian Forces Base Halifax in July 2010 ….”
- More on who’s watching the watchers (now) over at CSIS “The Conservative government’s decision to abolish the CSIS inspector general’s office is a “huge loss” to the important task of keeping an eye on Canada’s spy service, says the woman who held the job for the last eight years. Eva Plunkett retired last December and the Conservative government subsequently scrapped her watchdog role, saying it would save money and eliminate duplication. She had a staff of eight and a budget of about $1 million. The government says the Security Intelligence Review Committee — a panel of federal appointees — will take over the inspector general’s functions. In her first public comments on the matter, Plunkett said it is “ridiculous” to think the review committee, known as SIRC, could do the same job of probing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that her office did. “They don’t do the same kind of work at all,” she said in an interview. “They don’t go into the same depth, the same detail. And they’re basically part-time people.” The two watchdogs were different bodies with distinct roles, Plunkett said — the same message she delivered to federal officials last fall when they first approached her with the idea of merging the two organizations ….”
- War of 1812 Opinion: “The Olympics is no time to celebrate war (even if we won)”