MILNEWS.ca Blog

Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Archive for the ‘Not Just Military’ Category

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – October 30, 2013

leave a comment »

  • People living in and around Pictou are reminded that military choppers will be flying in the area Tuesday night, part of a large joint training exercise between the United States and Canada.  The helicopters are part of Frontier Sentinel 2013, an exercise being conducted this week throughout the Maritimes ….”
  • More from the Info-machine on the CF’s help to law enforcement to nail grow ops  “Farmers aren’t the only ones who have been hard at work in the cornfields this August and September.  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), along with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and other provincial and municipal policing agencies have been scouting out farmer’s fields and forested areas in search for something mean and green – illicit marijuana plants.  Operation SABOT is a RCMP-led marijuana eradication program. It has been conducted Canada-wide every year since 1989.  The CAF has supported the operation since its creation by providing aircraft and surveillance equipment, as well as personnel to operate them.  While the CAF assists in conducting aerial patrols, the RCMP is responsible for all law enforcement actions. Through these patrols the RCMP is able to locate outdoor marijuana grow operations (grow-ops). They can then remove the plants from the site and destroy them ….”
  • Commentary  “…. Military tribunals, “particularly summary trials, are vestiges of a Victorian system of justice. It is time to bring them in line with the massive changes and reforms taking place in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, (and) Ireland.” “
  • A bit of a reminder of what, exactly, a veteran is these days  “Canada has a whole lot of veterans; a lot more than you might think. According to the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman in 2012:  There are nearly 750,000 Canadian Forces and RCMP Veterans; 100,000 Canadian Forces members (Regular and Reserve Forces) and 23,000 members of the RCMP.  Doing the math, you get approximately 900,000 and growing. Call it a million for the sake of convenience and you find that 1 in 35 Canadians is a veteran.  If that number seems high, think about how you define a veteran. To many people, a veteran is someone from WWII or Korea. Yes, those men are veterans. But they are not the ONLY veterans. In fact, WWII and Korea service personnel only account for 11 per cent of the total veteran population ….”
  • Gravely injured troops are being booted from the military before they qualify for a pension, despite assurances to the contrary from the Harper governmentA former reserve combat engineer was let go last Friday on a medical discharge after begging for months to remain until hitting the 10-year mark.  Cpl. David Hawkins is about a year shy of being eligible for an indexed pension, but was released because his post traumatic stress means he is unable to deploy overseas.  Among those also leaving is Cpl. Glen Kirkland. His plea to remain in the army last June was answered by former defence minister Peter MacKay with an a pledge he could stay until September 2015 — and that no members are released until they are ready.  But the offer turned out to be exclusive to Kirkland, who chose within the last few days to leave rather than be given special treatment.  “I joined as a member of a team, as a family,” Kirkland said in an interview from Shilo, Man.  “So, when I was offered an opportunity when no one else was, it just goes against everything I joined for.”  He will be formally discharged in March ….” – a bit of backstory here (FULL DISCLOSURE:  I’m a moderator at milnet.ca)
  • Meanwhile, the Veterans Affairs Minister asks people to remember, any way they can
  • Remembrance is especially poignant this year for Korean War veterans who made a journey back to the sites where they fought tirelessly 60 years agoThe trip, organized by Veterans Affairs Canada, coincided with the anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice.  These veterans will be carrying their reflections from the tour in their thoughts this November 11 ….”
  • ” “We need action not only to end the fighting but to make the peace… “ — Lester B. Pearson, November 2, 1956 – The inscription on the national peacekeeping memorial — and the monument itself — have taken on new meaning.  Earlier this month the Pearson Centre, a Canadian institution devoted to the promotion of peace, security, human rights and the rule of law around the world, closed its doors in Ottawa for the last timeVery much in keeping with the overall response to this country’s steady global retrenchment, news of the closure evoked barely a whimper among members of the public or press ….”
  • Disarmament lobby group ceasefire.ca connects the dots between Senators and arms merchants
  • Way Up North (1)  Commentary  “Canada can learn a great deal from both Icelanders and their Norse ancestors when it comes to boldness ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  Commentary  “Last month, a humble marine bulk carrier made history transiting the Northwest Passage, opening a new chapter in Arctic shipping over the top of North America. Reactions depended on where people sit.  A U.S. federal government official helpfully discouraged Canadian focus on the Northwest Passage while we’re at odds over its legal status, something lawyers might or might not clear up by the end of the century. For those who favour Arctic development, the voyage offers a tempting glimpse of the new maritime economy oceanic warming may bring. Environmentalists foresee an apocalypse. For those with a love of history, the voyage recalls centuries of exploration and sacrifice by iron sailors in wooden ships searching for a shorter trade route between Europe and Asia.  A balanced and realistic reaction is in order ….”
  • 3D’s Mark Collins onOops! “Stateroom”: CSEC Helped NSA at Our Foreign Missions – more from Lux Ex Umbra blog here, and The Canadian Press here
  • From the NDP Info-machine  “In the wake of disturbing revelations about the activities of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) – Canada’s equivalent to the United States’ NSA – NDP Defence critic Jack Harris (St. John’s-East) wants greater Parliamentary oversight of the agency.  “Recent events have raised concern about CSEC’s activities,” said Harris. “As the former head of CSEC has said, there must be more parliamentary oversight for this agency and clear answers for Canadians about its activities.” ….” – more here
  • A police tribunal has heard that an activist, anti-police lawyer has no credibility when he claims he was arrested illegally during the G20 three years agoIn closing arguments, defence lawyer Alan Gold accused Nicholas Wright of either exaggerating or lying about what happened.  Wright accuses Const. Ryan Simpson of arresting him and warning him he had no right to remain silent.  But Gold calls the allegations absurd, and says there’s doubt about whether there even was an arrest ….”
  • The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, issued the following statement (yesterday), following a keynote address at SecureTech 2013, an annual conference focussing on current and emerging security and public safety issues …. Digital networks form the backbone of Canada’s critical infrastructure sectors, and we have taken a proactive approach to secure our vital assets.  In the past year, our Government has taken decisive steps on a number of commitments — particularly in our work to engage the private sector and our critical infrastructure owners and operators in our cyber security efforts ….”
  • The unsteady sand of who is considered a terrorist in Canada has once again shifted in favour of a Tamil woman living in Toronto, whose politician husband was assassinated in Sri Lanka while attending Christmas Eve mass in 2005.  Weeks after Joseph Pararajasingham, a member of parliament in Sri Lanka, was shot dead, Canada granted residency to his widow, Sugunanayake Joseph, who was injured in the attack, to protect her safety. Bill Graham, Canada’s former foreign affairs minister, praised her husband at a memorial service as a “man of peace.”  In 2011, however, the Immigration and Refugee Board concluded that Ms. Joseph was a member of a terrorist group and should be deported because of her ties to her husband, who had ties to the Tamil Tigers.  Now, a judge has ruled that this summer’s Supreme Court of Canada decision — starkly redefining how Canada defines membership in a terrorist organization — means the 76-year-old widow would likely no longer qualify for that dark designation, suggesting a reprieve from deportation may be the best option ….”
  • RCMP helping Phillippines sort out policing issues  “A senior Mountie has been thrust into one of the least known and most intractable conflicts in the world.  Assistant RCMP Commissioner Randy Beck arrived in the Philippines last week to oversee the establishment of the Independent Commission on Policing (ICP) in war-weary Mindanao where many of the country’s seven million Muslims live and where more than 120,000 people have died over the past half century in fighting between Islamic insurgents and government forces.  Beck’s commission is to make recommendations next April on what kind of police force Mindanao will need if separation talks succeed. The ICP will be looking for a model that will reflect the southern region’s ethnic and cultural differences ….”

Written by milnewsca

30 October 13 at 7:45

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – September 27, 2013

with one comment

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – July 13, 2013

leave a comment »

Written by milnewsca

13 July 13 at 9:00

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – July 12, 2013

with one comment

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – June 10, 2013

leave a comment »

  • Afghanistan  There might also be a case to be made that she was working for Afghans, no?  “The letter that arrived at the home of a leading Afghan women’s rights activist in February 2012 was chilling. “Respected Adela Mohseni, you all the time betray religion and the Koran,” it began. Because she had ignored warnings and continued to “co-operate with infidels,” it said, she now faced death.  “After this, wherever our mujahedeen find you, it is obligated that they will sentence you to death and kill you in order to save our Islamic country.”  Such “night letters” are a common Taliban intimidation tactic, often producing deadly results for Afghans considered enemies of the fundamentalists. In this case, though, the message reverberated all the way to Canada.  Though not named in the letter, the “infidels” for whom Ms. Mohseni had been working were at a Canadian government-funded human rights institute. Since 2007, she had been employed in Kabul by Montreal-based Rights and Democracy, promoting legal reforms to protect the rights of women.  She went into hiding immediately after receiving the letter and then, on the advice of her superior at Rights and Democracy, fled with her family to India, seeking temporary refuge. Fifteen months later, she is still there, recognized as a refugee by the United Nations but unable to work, struggling to support her children and still fearing for her life.  “I was working for Canada, and they should support and secure me, but unfortunately they didn’t,” she wrote recently ….”
  • The Department of National Defence has been quietly spreading its wings and becoming a major torchbearer for Canadian diplomacy even as Canadian envoys stage rotating strikes and Foreign Affairs struggles to stay relevant.  Defence officials have been staging high-level meetings with foreign counterparts, spent millions of dollars more on foreign travel and hospitality and placed a greater emphasis on reaching out to non-traditional allies in recent years.  It’s all part of a dedicated strategy first launched two years ago and which has been steadily gaining steam – even as Canada’s traditional foreign service has wrestled with a diminished role and been told to focus on trade, trade and more trade.  National Defence would not make anyone available to talk about its Global Engagement Strategy, but internal documents obtained by Postmedia News show “defence diplomacy” to be a major focus in the post-Afghanistan era.  “This involves a broad spectrum of international activities by the defence team,” reads one briefing document prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay in March 2011, “from high-level engagement and visits, to international personnel placements, Canadian defence attaches, ship and aircraft visits, joint exercises and capacity-building initiatives.” ….”
  • The Canadian Army has suspended military operations in the vicinity of a tiny, uninhabited island off the coast of Greenland that has been the source of an ongoing spat between Canada and Denmark, Postmedia News has learnedAccording to documents obtained under access to information legislation, the former chief of the defence staff, Gen. Walter Natynczyk, issued a directive in September 2012 that ordered Canadian Forces’ “operations in the vicinity of Hans Island be minimized with the exception of search and rescue (SAR) or emergency operations.”  Hans Island, which is only 1.3 square kilometres, sits between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Greenland. While a maritime border has been agreed upon since 1973, the land border has caused diplomatic tension over the years.”
  • Veterans Affairs staff are bracing for as many as 500 job cuts.  The third round of cuts in the department is rumoured to be planned for later this month, though the government will not confirm if this is the case.  The government eliminated 278 full-time positions by the beginning of May but still has 506 more to cut, according to the Union of Veterans Affairs Employees.  Union president Yvan Thauvette said staff expect notices to go out shortly after the House of Commons rises this month or before it resumes in September.  “Most of the time they don’t want questions to be asked, so that’s why they send the letters when the House is not sitting,” he said.  The department has also quietly killed a quarterly performance report card that measured how well services were being delivered. The corporate performance reports also polled veterans on their satisfaction with the department.  The last report went out in November 2011, one month after the government confirmed it was planning to cut more than $200 million from the Veterans Affairs budget ….”
  • Results of an anonymous survey to be released in the fall by National Defence will shed more light on the extent of military sexual assault, including what has been called the silent crime of male-on-male rape.  Almost 68,000 troops, 86 per cent of them men, were asked last August to voluntarily complete the Canadian Forces Workplace Harassment Survey. It asks respondents their gender, years of service and rank, along with 100 questions ranging from personal harassment to whether they’ve ever been raped.  It’s the first time the military has done such a survey since 1998.  Results could provide valuable insight into the extent of military sexual violence — an issue that former soldiers and frontline social workers say is rarely reported. The extent to which men in the military are sexually attacked by other men is even more cloaked in silence, they say ….”
  • One blogger’s analysis of the Green Party’s stance on Canadian defence
  • A gay British soldier says Prince Harry rescued him from a homophobic attack by infantry members during a training exercise in Canada.  Trooper James Wharton became the target of abuse in 2008 after bragging about ‘‘scoring’’ with a fellow soldier.  ‘‘I think I’m about to be murdered by the infantry,’’ Trooper Wharton told Prince Harry who was his tank commander at the time.  After hearing the story the third-in-line to the throne reportedly declared: ‘‘Right, I’m going to sort this s**t out once  and for all.’’  ‘‘Harry climbed out of the tank and started having a go,’’ Trooper Wharton, who was then 21, writes in a book extract published in British tabloid The Mail on Sunday.  ‘‘He wasn’t holding back. Prince Harry was sticking up for me and putting a stop to the trouble.  ‘‘I had been on track for a battering and had been rescued.’’  Trooper Wharton, who quit the army earlier this year, writes that after hosing down the 2008 incident Prince Harry told him: ‘‘I  told those other lads to back the f**k off.’’ ….” – more in the Daily Mail piece here
  • Reports that U.S. authorities have been trawling for data from the biggest companies on the internet have so rattled Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, she’s seeking clarity from the country’s cryptologic agency to find out what this means for CanadiansStories Thursday in the Guardian and the Washington Post detailed the U.S. National Security Agency‘s PRISM program – warrantless intelligence-gathering that ostensibly targeted foreigners and reportedly involved collecting personal information from the servers of willing companies. All the participating companies listed have vehemently denied any knowledge of the program, which a U.S. government spokesman has called ”among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect.”  “The scope of information reportedly being collected raises significant concerns,” Scott Hutchinson, a spokesperson for Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, said in an email.  “Going forward, we plan to express our concerns to and seek information from the Commissioner of the Communication Security Establishment to determine how the personal information of Canadians may be affected.” ….” – more on the PRISM program here, more on Canada’s approval of some of the work here, some media commentary here and here, and some commentary from a former CSIS dude here
  • The federal government says it will allow an Ottawa man accused of terrorist ties to have a mobile phone, but balks at the idea of giving Mohamed Harkat access to the internet or removing his electronic tracking bracelet.  In documents filed with the Federal Court, the government says it is also open to dropping a requirement that Harkat get prior approval before travelling out of town.  The concessions would ease current release conditions for Harkat, but fall short of the full list of freedoms he will seek Tuesday during a one-day Federal Court hearing.  It has been more than a decade since Harkat, a refugee from Algeria, was arrested under a national security certificate on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent — an accusation he denies.  He has essentially been living under house arrest with stringent conditions for seven years ….”
  • On his way to becoming Canada’s top cop, Bob Paulson told internal reviewers the national security certificate process for detaining suspected terrorists was “completely off the rails,” newly released documents showIn an interview with an auditor examining the controversial program, Paulson, now RCMP commissioner, expressed concerns about excessive state secrecy in certificate proceedings.  The national security certificate is a seldom-used tool for removing non-citizens suspected of terrorism or espionage from Canada.  “In my view, we over claim the protection of sources and methods and this is convenient if you can get away with it,” say notes from the October 2009 interview, recently released under the Access to Information Act.  Paulson was assistant RCMP commissioner for national security at the time of the interview. Two years later, he was picked by the Harper government to become commissioner ….”
  • A bomb threat that forced one of the Canadian Cancer Society’s biggest fundraisers to cancel on Friday night is still being felt by other groups organizing their annual walks and runs this weekendHalifax Regional Police said someone called 911 from a payphone at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street and made threats that alluded to the Boston Marathon bombing.  Nearby, nearly 700 people were gathered at the Oval in the Halifax Common for the Relay for Life.  Police met with the organizers and the fundraiser was called off, ruining a year’s worth of work by dozens of volunteers ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – January 30, 2013

leave a comment »

  • Mali (1) MPs will soon debate Canada’s involvement in Mali as the Conservative government continues to offer limited support to the French-led mission in the west African nationPrime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed Monday the issue would be debated in the House and be studied by the Commons foreign affairs committee in the coming weeks.  NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said New Democrats would wait until Parliament has studied the issue before deciding whether to push for further intervention.  “We’re going to get full information on the state of play in Mali,” he told reporters.  “That’s the undertaking. There’s nothing else on the table right now. But anything else would of course come before Parliament or its committees. That’s what the Prime Minister said and that’s what we agreed to.” ….” - more from Monday’s Question Period in the House here.
  • Mali (2) The feds are well advised to use an ounce of prevention to protect Canadian diplomats in Mali with special forces soldiers, says an international security expertIf special forces are indeed on the ground, Christian Leuprecht says it’s at least partly because officials don’t want Canada to be caught in an incident like the deadly terror attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya last September.  The Queen’s University and Royal Military College professor says the government “wants to be careful and take the right precautions so that we don’t become the next victim” of that sort of attack ….”
  • Mali (3a)  More mission creep worries from ceasefire.ca and a yahoo.ca commentator
  • Mali (3b)  Liberal Defence Critic“…. The prime minister is right to express his non-verbal hesitations about engagement in yet another “African” conflict, but he is the prime minister and Canadians are entitled to a well-articulated, coherent expression of his views.  He might start with an articulation of the foreign policy goal of this mission.  Is it to contain militant Islamism, and if it is, say so.  If there are other goals, state them.  What will be the measure of success and when will we know it’s time to leave?  What will be the likely consequences on regional and international interests, and what are Canada’s interests? ….”
  • Mali (3c)  Toronto Star columnist  “Inch by inch, Canada and the West are being drawn into an African war we don’t understand ….”
  • Mali (3d)  Toronto Star editorial  “…. While the Conservatives have rightly drawn a line against sending combat troops, Ottawa should be prepared to offer not only political support for the French-led mission, but also cash, humanitarian aid and other non-lethal assistance as the African stabilization force ramps up.  That help should be conditioned, however, on Malian President Dioncounda Traore’s government setting the country back on the path to democratic, constitutional rule ….”
  • Mali (4) Canada will provide another $13 million in aid to Mali, International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino announced Tuesday in Ethiopia.  Fantino is the Canadian representative at a donors conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital ….” - more here and here.
  • Mali (5)  More on whazzup in Mali here (Google News), here (EMM Explorer) and here (France’s defence ministry’s daily update in French)
  • Elsewhere….  Spillover from Mexico’s violent drug war is prompting the Harper government and the Canadian military to become more involved in helping defend the tiny Central American country of BelizeA series of internal reports, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, show the government has quietly increased co-operation with the Commonwealth nation, formerly known as British Honduras.  Canada is providing non-lethal equipment for security services and helping with strategic planning and the training of soldiers.  The documents, which all date from the spring of last year, describe the situation in Belize as deteriorating in the face of ultra-violent drug cartels that are battling not only Mexican and U.S. law enforcement, but each other as well.  “Belize is of growing importance to the Canadian government due to the increasingly precarious security situation in Central America, particularly along the Belize-Mexico border,” said a March 23, 2012, briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay ….”
  • Joshua Caleb Baker, 1985-2010, R.I.P.  Three days after leading a training exercise that went horribly wrong and killed a fellow soldier, warrant officer Paul Ravensdale told a military investigator he had no idea what caused the accident“All hell broke loose and I honestly don’t know what happened,” Ravensdale is heard saying in the recorded interview, played Tuesday at his court martial at CFB Shilo in Manitoba.  “I honestly felt I did everything right.”  Ravensdale, who is now retired, faces six charges — including manslaughter and unlawfully causing bodily harm — stemming from an incident on a weapons range in Afghanistan on Feb. 12, 2010 ….”
  • The Official Opposition has launched new salvos against Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s credibility over revelations about his controversial 2010 ride on a military helicopter from a central Newfoundland fishing camp.  Postmedia News reported earlier this week it has obtained emails that show government officials did not want MacKay to attend an Ontario news conference that prompted use of a Cormorant helicopter in July 2010.  As well, the emails appear to contradict MacKay’s assertions that the chopper ride was arranged at the last minute, and that officials knew 11 days in advance of the event that critics have slammed as a “photo op.”  Defence critic Jack Harris hammered MacKay in the House of Commons on Monday ….” - more here.
  • A Conservative MP wants to reward permanent residents serving in the Canadian Armed Forces with faster citizenship and revoke the citizenship of people who engage in acts of war against Canada.  “Canadian citizenship is an honour and a privilege,” said Devinder Shory, who represents Calgary Northeast, in a press release. “Those who put themselves on the front lines for Canada deserve to be acknowledged, while those who repudiate their citizenship by committing violent acts against Canada’s armed forces should not be able to retain it.”  Shory’s private members bill was debated in the House of Commons on Tuesday.  Bill C-425 would allow permanent residents who have signed a minimum three-year contract with the Canadian Forces to gain citizenship one year earlier than normal.  While citizenship is generally a requirement to join the Canadian Forces, permanent residents can receive a citizenship waiver if they have specific skill sets needed.  The second, and more contentious part of the bill, would see people stripped of Canadian citizenship if they fight against the Canadian Armed Forces. The provision would apply to dual citizens, citizens who are also a legal resident of another country or permanent residents of Canada who have applied for citizenship.  Shory commissioned a poll last year which suggested 80 per cent of Canadians would like to see citizenship be revoked in such cases ….” - more from the House of Commons debate here.
  • Oopsie…. The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax raised eyebrows in Newfoundland and Labrador after an official at the centre confused the names of a western Newfoundland peninsula and a Caribbean cityIn a voice recording made by a JRCC employee, there was some confusion about the location of a duck hunter who was reported missing Monday evening when he did not return to his home in the West Bay area.  “We are currently assisting the police up in Newfoundland on a search for a 51-year-old male duck hunter that is missing in the Port-au-Prince peninsula area.”  JRCC official Maj. Martell Thompson explained that the employee meant to say the Port au Port Peninsula.  “Pure slip of the tongue,” Thompson said.  “We all understand that Port-au-Prince is in the Dominican Republic.”  Port-au-Prince is actually the capital city of Haiti ….” - mention in the House of Commons here.
  • Speaking of search and rescue….  “One year after the death of Labrador teen Burton Winters, Liberal MHA Randy Edmunds says a lot of good has happened, but if more isn’t done, another similar tragedy could happen again.  “We’ve got to find out what went wrong. I mean, inquiries have been called for far less situations than what happened with Burton,” Edmunds said.  “You’ve got to find out what went wrong. For one reason, if not any other, it’s to fix what went wrong. I don’t like to see governments blaming each other and the issue not being addressed,” Edmunds said.  On Jan. 29. 2012, Burton’s body was found on the sea ice off Makkovik. He got lost on his snowmobile three days earlier, and tried to walk home.  Confused, in a snowstorm, he walked 19 kilometres in the wrong direction before he froze to death.  In the months after his death, questions were raised about why the Canadian Forces failed to send a helicopter to search for the teen ….” - more on the anniversary in the House of Commons here and here.
  • Way Up North  Canadian Rangers from seven First Nation communities made a big impression on an army colonel during a recent four-day visit to Northern Ontario“It has been a wonderful and very useful experience,” said Col. Jennie Carignan, chief of staff for Land Force Central Area, the military name for the army in Ontario.  “I was absolutely astonished at the way the Rangers have adapted to living extremely well in their environment.  “They are very knowledgeable about their own areas and their role is absolutely critical to the safety of their communities.”  Carignan encountered severe weather conditions during her visit, with temperatures dropping to -40 C and windchills reaching as low as -58 C.  Despite that she shot outdoors with Rangers at Lac Seul, near Sioux Lookout, and went snowmobiling with Rangers on the shore of Hudson Bay at both Fort Severn and Peawanuck. She also saw Rangers from Attawapiskat, Kashechewan, Fort Albany and Moose Factory teaching winter survival techniques to soldiers from Toronto at a temporary training site near Moosonee ….”
  • Naval spy sentencing approaching  “…. The senior officer at the Trinity naval intelligence centre inside CFB Halifax, where SLt. (Jeffrey) Delisle worked, raises a key issue facing Crown prosecutor Lyne Décarie and defence lawyer Mike Taylor as they prepare for SLt. Delisle’s two-day sentencing hearing, which begins on Thursday – the length of time he should serve in prison.  No one in Canada has ever been charged or convicted under the Security of Information Act. The 41-year-old intelligence officer pleaded guilty in October to two charges under the act of “communicating with a foreign entity.”  Nova Scotia’s Chief Judge of the Provincial Court, Patrick Curran, is expected to consider the sentencing submissions for a couple of weeks – and when he gives his decision, SLt. Delisle will become the first Canadian sentenced under the law created a decade ago in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.  With no precedents in Canada, Ms. Décarie and Mr. Taylor have been searching legal textbooks and data bases from around the world to make their case for the navy spy’s sentence ….”
  • Minister of Defence responding to an NDP question on the potential privatization of managing DND property  “…. I am very proud of the significant investments we have made through the Canada first defence strategy to infrastructure on bases across the country. The Department of National Defence continues to ensure that members of the Canadian Forces and their families have the necessary infrastructure to train, to live, to do the important work that we ask of them. The department will leverage private sector capabilities with the realignment of internal resources to oversee the right mix of in-house and external delivery options ….”
  • Canada’s military ombudsman is calling for the Department of National Defence to re-examine its long-standing practice of sending thousands of military personnel to new postings every year, including the relocation policies to manage those moves.  Pierre Daigle said the military should rethink how often it needs to transfer soldiers and uproot their families as part of its “operational requirements.” He said moving 20 per cent of the forces every year is expensive for taxpayers and can impose major personal and financial hardships on military families.  “Why do we move people so much and how many times do we have to move?” said Daigle in an interview. “Yes, they need operational capacity and people have to be moved, but when they are moved for operational requirements, it is not their choice where they have to go so to they shouldn’t be paying for it and that’s where we see the unfairness that needs to be addressed.” ….”
  • Date set for Federal Court hearing into long-term disability clawback settlement  “T-463-07; DENNIS MANUGE v. HMQ Federal Court Hearing will take place at the World Trade and Convention Centre, 1800 Argyle Street, Halifax, NS on February 14 and 15, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.”
  • “The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, (yesterday) participated in events organized by the True Patriot Love Foundation, and the Veterans Transition Advisory Council (VTAC), a team of corporate champions committed to removing the barriers that Veterans face during the transition to civilian employment …. The day began with a “From Battlefield to Boardroom” conference, which saw human resources executives from corporate Canada gather to learn more about the value and experience of military Veterans. The conference was followed by the inaugural Veterans Transition Advisory Council meeting ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – November 27, 2012

leave a comment »

  • Afghanistan (1)  Senator selling the mission (glad SOMEONE is)  It doesn’t always get the headlines.  It’s not the image most people see when they think of soldiers.  But Canada’s brave men and women in the military are not only protecting Canadian freedoms around the world, they are also providing hope to the downtrodden where freedom has long been only envisioned in dreams.  The Canadian military has built more than 50 schools in Afghanistan since war broke out following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Senator Pamela Wallin told more than 100 local dignitaries and veterans at the Scotiabank Convention Centre Monday.  “(When the mission started) no girls were going to school. Now the girls are going to school, millions of them. They are taking the veil from their faces and they are feeling what freedom feels like.”  She told the crowd the Canadian military has helped countless Afghan’s go from nothing to Grade 3 literacy skills in nine weeks.  “It makes me a little bit optimistic what might happen in that country,” she said, adding there remains a lot of work to do ….” - more here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Columnist’s glass-is-half-empty assessment of the Defence Minister’s view of the situation  “….  MacKay’s message was that Canada’s sacrifice — 158 soldiers killed and another 2,000 injured — was offset by the progress the international community has made in developing that war-torn country.  The yardstick MacKay used to determine this progress was the same well-worn platitudes about girls attending schools and the crowded market places in Kabul.  However at the Halifax forum, MacKay went one step further when he said that on his most recent trip to Afghanistan, he had flown on a commercial passenger plane, which according to MacKay was “once impossible.”  This was offered by MacKay to the assembled brain trust as further proof that NATO is making headway.  MacKay’s claim is entirely baseless ….”
  • Media are invited to the Canadian Military and Veteran Health Research Forum 2012 at the Ambassador Conference Resort in Kingston, Ont., from November 26th through 28th.  The forum will bring more than 450 Canadian researchers and international delegates to the forum to share key research and studies into the critical field of military and veteran’s health. Keynote speakers include the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and Lieutenant-General the Honourable (Ret) Roméo Dallaire, Senator and Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.  Also on hand to present her research will be Dr. Stéphanie Bélanger of the Royal Military College of Canada who is the Associate Director of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran’s Health Research ….” – more on the forum here, and more on the Minister being there from the Info-machine here.
  • More federal politicians and senior military officials could find themselves flying commercial in the years ahead as the Harper government plans to retire and not replace most of its VIP Challenger jets.  Defence sources say most of the fleet, which has often been in the news for being air taxis for senior officials, will reach the end of its service life by 2014, at which time the jets will be taken out of service.  CTV News reported Monday that four-of-the-six remaining aircraft will be cut, something defence insiders say is a function of their age and the fact the Harper government doesn’t intend to invest in a service life extension.  The Conservatives, for over a decade, have made a political lightning rod out of the jets, pointing to their use as a sign of Liberal excess.  Once in office, they drastically curtailed the use of the executive jets to the point where one military official, who would not be identified, said the pilots have been reduced to flying training missions as a way to keep up their qualifications.  Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, would not confirm the cutbacks, but said the government is always looking for efficiencies in order to sustain a combat capable military ….” – more on this here and here.
  • The Canadian army’s east coast branch has hired a civilian to tweet and Facebook for the troops.  Major Mark Gough is the media contact for Land Force Atlantic Area, but said he needed outside help for using social media.  “None of us are experts in social media. We all have our own Facebook pages, individually, personally. Some of us engage in Twitter, but none of us have used this in an organizational sense,” he said.  He said it’s not a tool for recruiting new members, but a way to better inform the public about what their army does every day.  The 7,000 personnel in the region include regular forces and reserve members in all four Atlantic provinces.  Gough said Land Force Western and Land Force Central, the other two branches, do not use civilians for social media, but he felt an outside perspective would help the army connect with civilians.  “We are opening ourselves up to conversations that traditionally, you might not want to engage in. But those conversations are happening whether you want them to or not,” said Gough.  “By having our own social media sites, we can be part of that conversation.” ….” – more on the civvies with the new gig here.      
  • Last week, The Link received an email—subject “Concordia’s Military Complex”—containing information about the university’s ostensible ties to the Department of National Defence and military industries.  The email was sent by a student activist from the newly formed Anti-War Efforts Group.  “It’s an attempt to show that the military is deeply involved in Concordia’s administration, deeply involved in the funding of Concordia and deeply involved in the research at Concordia,” said Gabriel Velasco, one of the original members of the AWEG.  The group sprang up in September as an offshoot of the Mob Squad, a campus-based activist organization that supported the student strike and stands against the privatization of universities.  So far, the Anti-War group has roughly a dozen active members and a mailing list of about two hundred people.  The group’s research was partly based on a five-year-old pamphlet entitled “Military Research in Our Universities” by another local activist group and summarized in a flowchart scribbled on the back of a concert poster—hardly what one would call compelling evidence.  Indeed, it would have been easy to disregard their allegations, had they not found a few real—albeit ambiguous—links between Concordia, the defence department and large corporations involved in different aspects of military production ….” – more on the Montreal university group at its Facebook page here.
  • Way Up North (1)  Norwegian troops on major exercise  “As the Norwegian Armed Forces are changing the training model to focus more on cooperation between different branches, “Flotex Silver Rein II” is a foretaste of how military exercises will be organized in the years to come. In 2013 there will be four so-called joint operational exercises, the Armed Forces’ web site reads.  The exercise “Flotex Silver Rein II” used to be three separate exercises: “Flotex” – a navy exercise, “Falcon Silver” – an air force exercise and “Rein” – an exercise for ground forces.  The aim of the exercise is to practice procedures, interaction and a common understanding of the situation between the different land, naval and air units. Systems for network based defense (NBF) will be tested and all branches will be conducting live firing ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  The Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, in partnership with the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, The Inuit Knowledge Centre, St. Jerome’s University and the Trinity-Munk Centre for Contemporary International History, is pleased to host the third annual Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Conference, entitled:  Arctic Peoples and Security  The goal of this conference is to explore different ways of conceptualizing and understanding security in the Arctic in order to develop and implement sounder, more productive, and more inclusive public policies in the North ….”

Written by milnewsca

27 November 12 at 7:45

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – November 5, 2012

leave a comment »

  • Remembering (1)  Remembering at Beaumont-Hamel  “Many Canadian and French citizens gathered (Saturday) at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, in France, to pay tribute to the men and women who served their countries from the First World War to current missions.  The Government of Canada representative, Vice-Admiral Bob Davidson, Canadian Military Representative to NATO, addressed the gathering on behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs. He was joined by the French Republic representative Mr. Joël Dubreuil, sous-préfet de Péronne ….”       
  • Remembering (2)  Remembering at Vimy Ridge  “Many Canadian and French citizens gathered (Sunday) at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, in France, to pay tribute to the men and women who served their countries from the First World War to current missions.  The Government of Canada representative, Mr. Kim Butler, Plenipotentiary Minister, Canadian Embassy, Paris, addressed the gathering on behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs. He was joined by the French Republic representative, Mr. Pierre Clavreuil, sous-préfet of Lens ….”       
  • Remembering (3)  Remembering in the Senate  “Media are invited to attend a special ceremony (today) with the Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate of Canada, the Honourable Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the House of Commons and the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, for the launch of Veterans’ Week 2012. Canadian youth participating in Encounters with Canada will offer reflections on the Battle of Passchendaele ….”       
  • Remembering (4)  Remembering the animals  “Mr. Royal Galipeau, Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Orléans and representative for the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Senator Yonah Martin, Mrs. Laureen Harper, Honorary Patron of the Animals in War Dedication Project, Brigadier-General M.K. Overton, Assistant Chief of Military Personnel of the Canadian Armed Forces, and Mr. Russell Mills, Chair of the National Capital Commission (NCC), along with Veteran Lloyd Swick, founder of the project, (Saturday) unveiled a dedication to honour animals who served alongside their human comrades in war. The dedication consists of three interpretative plaques explaining the roles played by animals during past wars. A bronze statue of a medical service dog stands nearby ….”       
  • Remembering (5)  Remembering to remember  “The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today issued the following statement encouraging all Canadians to take time to remember this Veterans’ Week from November 5 to 11 ….”
  • Remembering (6)  University of Toronto paper“…. Whether our soldiers personally support the war or not is irrelevant. Whether or not the war should have been fought is similarly irrelevant. These soldiers went to war, end of story. Now it is up to us as civilians to be there for them in terms of civil employment, mental and physical health services, and veteran pension plans — something that, with the recent government cuts to Veteran’s Affairs, we unfortunately have yet to live up to. Veteran’s benefits are the neglected cost of war ….”
  • Remembering (7)  How Applebees helps remember  “In what has become a neighbourhood tradition, Applebee’s restaurants will honour our nation’s veterans and active duty Canadian Forces by inviting them to their neighbourhood Applebee’s for a free meal on Remembrance Day – Sunday November 11 …. Veterans and active duty military will need to provide proof of service, which includes: permanent ID card for active personnel, temporary ID card for reservists, veteran’s card or a photograph in uniform or wearing uniform ….”
  • Remember this guy, a retired Colonel charged with forgery and uttering a forged document (news release also here if previous link doesn’t work)?  He’s been found guilty of “altered a document made for a departmental purpose”, and fined $5000 – more from the Court Martial sentencing report here.
  • A federal burial fund meant to give impoverished veterans a final, dignified salute has rejected over two-thirds of the applications it’s received since 2006.  And of the requests that are accepted, Ottawa contributes just over $3,600 toward the funeral cost of destitute ex-soldiers, a figure that is substantially lower than what some social services departments pay towards the burial of the homeless and those on welfare.  According to figures put before Parliament, of the 29,853 requests made to the veterans funeral and burial program, 20,147 pleas for funding 67.4 per cent were rejected.  They either did not meet the eligibility criteria, or failed a means test, which says a qualifying veteran’s annual income must have been less than $12,010 per year ….”    
  • Conference:  It take more than just the military to sort things out overseas  Although the Canadian Forces have always been a world leader in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, they’ve never done it alone.  How Canada works with agencies in other countries was among the topics on Saturday as the Thunder Bay Branch of the Canadian International Council, the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment, the HMCS Griffon, and the Lakehead University Department of History hosted a symposium entitled Military Operations Achieving Humanitarian Goals that examined some of the Canadian Forces recent humanitarian missions around the world ….”
  • NGO types “…. Since the First World War the global community has agreed to limit or outright prohibit the production and use of certain weapons, because of the scale of destruction (nuclear bombs), because of their horrific effects (poison gas) or, like cluster bombs, because they overwhelmingly affect the innocent. Canada, once a leader in fighting such weapons, is now a laggard ….”
  • Extra police, security and attendants were called in to work at Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain Saturday following the discovery of an explosive device on a commuter line in Surrey. B.C.  The increased security came after the RCMP detonated an explosive found Friday on the elevated tracks. Hours after locating the first package, police also found a second suspicious object at a station in Burnaby that turned out to be a false alarm.   Transit police spokesperson Anne Drennan told The Canadian Press that about a dozen detectives will spend Saturday trying to figure out how the device ended up on the tracks.  The first device was spotted by a Surrey passenger on Friday afternoon. The device was lying between two sets of tracks and appeared to be a pipe bomb strapped to three small, empty propane tanks.  Police evacuated the station and then shut down a portion of the line as explosives experts moved in to remove the device.  Drennan said the device was the size of three fire extinguishers. It could have been thrown or placed on the guideway, she said ….”
  • More on the potential Chinese buy-in to a Canadian petro-business  “As a former deputy minister at Industry Canada, there was no one in government who knew the Investment Canada Act more intimately than Paul Boothe.  The top-tier bureaucrat, who has since migrated to academia, was instrumental in guiding a relatively young Conservative government when it surprisingly blocked the sale of domestic space technology, including the Radarsat-2 satellite, to an American firm in 2008.  After recently poring over the pros and cons of the $15.1-billion energy deal between Chinese-controlled CNOOC and Calgary’s Nexen, Boothe can’t see any good reason for turning down the deal.  He’s also well aware the answer may not be Yes.  Despite attempts over the years to make approvals of foreign investment as clinical as possible, the CNOOC-Nexen decision comes down to pure politics ….”

Written by milnewsca

5 November 12 at 7:45

What’s Canada Buying? August 30, 2012

leave a comment »

Written by milnewsca

30 August 12 at 12:15

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – August 6, 2012

leave a comment »

  • Federal cuts are threatening the future of a program that hires veterans who have been medically discharged from the Canadian Forces, according to a Liberal senator“It is a program that’s in trouble,” says Percy Downe, who was so worried about the fate of the program he wrote Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ministers asking why they weren’t doing more to support the program.  In a letter to Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq CBC News obtained through the Access to Information Act, Downe writes, “I urge you to instruct your deputy minister to follow the spirit and intent of the regulation and appoint qualified medically released veterans … to employment in your federal government department.”  The priority hiring program for Canadian Forces veterans discharged due to physical or psychological injuries was introduced in 2005 as part of the Veterans Charter. RCMP officers were also included in the program, but most participants are vets.  According to a CBC News analysis of statistics from the Public Service Commission, the federal body responsible for administering the program, Health Canada has hired nine people on the priority list, well behind National Defence, the Correctional Service of Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.  Of the nearly 1,000 people who found jobs through the program, National Defence hired 73 per cent of them. Nine federal employers, including the Privy Council Office, haven’t hired anyone ….”  Kudos to CBC for sharing at least some of the documents in question here and here – more from the Public Service Commission of Canada here, and some discussion over at Army.ca here. 
  • Meanwhile, what’s up with Canada supporting vets“On behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification) (on Saturday) joined Veterans, Canadian Forces members, community leaders, and members of the public for the opening ceremony of the Canada Remembers Our Heroes Tribute. The event honours the contributions of Veterans and pays tribute to fallen Canadian Forces members. Veterans Affairs Canada has contributed up to $8,000 to this event through the Community Engagement Partnership Fund ….”
  • Way Up North  More on OP Nanook underway  “The Canadian Forces have set up camp outside Inuvik, N.W.T., for the annual summer Arctic exercise Operation Nanook.  Last week, Maj.-Gen. Christine Whitecross, the Canadian Forces’ chief military engineer, inspected the camp which was put together in 10 days.  “What I look for are systems that are efficient,” she said. “Design that makes sense so we’re not creating something unsustainable. Comfort is nice, but it’s a low priority. Efficiency, effectiveness and ability to operate.” ….”  
  • The City of Halifax appears to be working more closely with the CF for emergency preparedness  “Halifax is no stranger to emergency and crisis in recent years: hurricane Juan in September 2003, the blizzard of February 2004; and even the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon caused airliners to be rerouted to Canadian airports, including Halifax International.  The many situations that could constitute an emergency or a crisis for the Halifax Regional Municipality prompted municipal authorities to take advantage of a military exercise to practise and refine their procedures and processes to meet the challenges of a major emergency.  The Halifax Emergency Response Exercise (HEREX) began early on Wednesday, June 27, at HRM’s Emergency Operations Centre in Dartmouth. The exercise design team put the municipality’s senior elected and administrative staff through their paces.  “The military exercise gave HRM an opportunity to dovetail with the military in rehearsing and validating how we meet emergencies and crises,” explains HRM’s manager of public affairs, Shaune MacKinlay. “This allowed us to build and confirm partnerships with other players in emergency management, including DND, Public Safety Canada, Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office, Capital District Health Authority, Emergency Health Service and the municipality.” ….”
  • No more trespassing for YOU (in B.C.) “The majority of Nanaimo’s most popular recreational spots used by mountain bikers, hikers, swimmers and all-terrain vehicles are on private property.  In July, Canada’s Department of National Defence announced they would step up patrols, replace no trespassing signs and barbed wire and hand out fines to those found trespassing on their Nanaimo rifle range.  A new, six-foot high fence topped with barbed wire, around DND’s property line would permanently seal off some of Nanaimo’s oldest and most popular trails behind Westwood Lake, including the very popular Westwood Ridges. This area is supposed to be off limits because its within the danger zone boundary of the active rifle range, outlined by the DND. Richard Harding, City of Nanaimo director of parks, recreation and culture, will meet with the DND to discuss the boundary lines and access issues behind Westwood Lake next week ….”
  • Some media relations advice from a newspaper responding to this fracas  “….  She was upset the lead of the story referred to her as MacKay’s wife. But her name started the second paragraph, which was also just the second sentence of the story. And she was upset with the headline: Time to bring Khadr home: defence minister’s wife.  Now, full disclosure: The Guardian is owned by the same company that owns this newspaper. But really, our view would be the same regardless: as the wife of a prominent government figure, you should know the rules of engagement when you speak to the media.  If it comes out of your mouth, it may appear in a story.  A journalist isn’t speaking to you to pass the time, or because s/he likes you – they’re doing their job and want a story to write based on the conversation you’re having.  You will be described in the story in the terms most meaningful to readers. Nazanin Afshin-Jam means less to readers than “wife of the defense minister,” regardless of how you wish to be known.  When you say controversial things, they will probably be the focus of the story.  If you want the story to be about your one cause – promoting a book, for example – only say interesting things about that one subject ….”  Media Relations 101, straight from the horse’s mouth.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 932 other followers