MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – September 20, 2012
- Afghanistan Toronto Star‘s “news illustrator” Richard Johnson shares a bit more of what’s happening in Afghanistan here ( “…. “It can be hard to swallow for the Canadians. It is hard for them to let go of a soldier when you know he will probably die in the first days of battle, because the training they have received is so limited. … We have to explain to them, ‘It may not be to the high level we want, but it is good enough, just make sure you are doing YOUR best, so you can go back home and look yourself in the eye.’” “) and here (“…. One of the interpreters spotted the Canadian flag on my body armour. This is the second time this has happened to me on this trip. Mohammad Jabar is from Richmond Hill in Ontario. He is both an intelligence and cultural advisor on assignment from our own Department of Defence (DND) to the U.S. DOD. It is an essential role in which he not only translates but dampens frictions between Afghans and U.S. forces. He can do this because he understands not only both languages, but also both cultures ….”).
- Stuart Langridge, R.I.P. “A former soldier says the military failed to keep a close enough eye on a suicidal Afghan vet the day he killed himself. Kirk Lackie testified Wednesday at the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry into Cpl. Stuart Langridge’s death. The inquiry was called following complaints from his family that the investigations into Langridge’s suicide were botched. Lackie was a last-minute addition to the witness list; he asked to testify. “I want Stu’s ma and everybody to know the truth about what’s going on because right from the get-go, other names have been named and whatever, and the truth has not been told,” Lackie said at the close of emotional testimony ….”
- Iran “Canadian public opinion is solidly behind the government’s foreign policy on Iran, according to an Angus Reid survey released Wednesday that found 72% support for the recent decision to suspend diplomatic relations with the Islamic regime. Although analysts and former ambassadors have criticized Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird for cutting ties with Tehran, the poll found broad approval for the move across the political spectrum of respondents. The poll highlighted the grim view that Canadians now hold of Iran: 81% said they had an “unfavorable opinion” of the country and 72% believed Tehran was attempting to develop nuclear weapons ….”
- Good to hear “The State Department is denying that a planned closed-door meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mexico Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa is about a secret plan to invade Canada. Asked why the meeting was closed to press and what the two officials were discussing, a reporter asked: “This isn’t some secret thing to invade Canada or something like that?” “No, no, no,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said during a Tuesday briefing to laughter from reporters.” A bit more on this one here and here.
- “At 3:15 on (today) in Ottawa, the Foreign Ministers of Canada and Turkey are to lift the cover off a striking new public monument said to honour all diplomats who have been killed by terrorists. But the commemorative gesture carries diplomatic risks of its own. Its location, at the very spot where a Turkish diplomat was assassinated 30 years ago, allegedly by Armenian terrorists, suggests to some it is one act of terror that is being singled out, and one country, Turkey, that is being placated. Everything depends on the wording of the plaque being revealed (today). Turkey has harboured a grudge against Canada since 2006 when the newly elected government of Stephen Harper officially recognized the killing of Armenians during the First World War as an act of genocide by the Ottoman Turks. That official recognition pleased Canadian Armenians no end, but Turkey was so incensed it withdrew its ambassador to Ottawa for a time. Thursday’s monument unveiling is the last in a series of Canadian gestures intended to restore good relations with a nation of growing importance in an unstable region, and Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has made his first trip to Canada for the occasion ….”
- “Despite a 19,600 name petition, a plea by Amnesty International and even a letter from Noble Peace Laurete Desmond Tutu, Citizenship and Immigration minister Jason Kenney will not intervene in the case of Iraq war resister Kimberly Rivera. The American-born Rivera fled to Canada in 2007, after her first tour in Iraq to avoid further military service. Shortly after her arrival in Canada, she applied for refugee status, was rejected, and after numerous appeals has been ordered to return to the U.S. on September 20. For the last couple of years she has lived in Toronto with her husband and four children, two of which were born in Canada ….” – more on the deserter’s case here and here.
- “The Harper government’s plan to permit United States law enforcement agents to pursue suspects across the land border and onto Canadian soil is “on hold” while legal issues are resolved, the government says. The program, part of the 2011 perimeter plan between Canada and the United States that is reshaping the two nations’ cross-border trade, security, and policing, was supposed to be tested through two pilot projects by the summer of 2012. he land-based program could give the green light to US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration agents to cross the border and pursue suspects into Canada, the RCMP has told Embassy. In May, two top Mounties told a Senate committee that the force was planning on easing Canadians into the idea of American agents in Canada through “baby steps.” The government put amendments into its spring budget bill to make it permanently legal for US agents to be certified as police in Canadian waters. The maritime program, called Shiprider, was seen as the first step towards the same program over land, since the land program is referred to as the “next generation” of cross-border policing. But Jean Paul Duval, a spokesperson for Public Safety Canada, wrote in an email to Embassy on Sept. 18 that “The Next Generation Pilot is on hold while the legal and governance framework for the program is finalized.” Meanwhile, Shiprider is proceeding with the selection of officers and training, wrote Mr. Duval ….”