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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – December 5, 2013

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  • Please do what you can to spread the message that folks who are having a tough time this time of year don’t have to suffer alone – #sendupthecount – more here (Facebook) and here (milnet.ca – disclosure:  I’m a moderator at milnet.ca)
  • Sylvain Lelièvre, R.I.P.   What the PM has to say  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has weighed in on the spate of apparent soldier suicides that have rocked the Canadian Forces in recent days.  Harper says everyone should encourage veterans in need to reach out to the support and systems that are there to help.  The prime minister’s comments came hours after the Defence Department confirmed the military police at CFB Valcartier in Quebec are investigating the death Tuesday of Master Cpl. Sylvain Lelievre, from the 3rd battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment.  Lelievre is the fourth soldier believed to have committed suicide since last week.  Lelievre joined the Canadian Forces in June 1985 and was deployed to Bosnia between 2001 and 2002, and again in 2004. He also served in Kandahar from 2010 to 2011 ….”
  • What the PM said during Question Period yesterday  “Mr. Speaker, once again, let me just say, I think that this applies to all members of the House of Commons, all of our thoughts and prayers are with all of the friends and families of those who have been touched by these recent suicides.  I think it is the responsibility of all of us to encourage those who need support, those who need help, to get that help. We should reach out to them and encourage them to do that. Those supports are available and we will make sure, of course, that they continue to be available to those people …. those services are available at Service Canada offices across the country. This government has invested far more in services for our veterans.  As I just said, our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends who have been touched by these events. It is the responsibility of all of us to encourage those who need support to get that support. We understand the difficulties that our military personnel have faced, and services are available to them …. a number of programs and services are available for our soldiers and veterans. They include the Canadian Armed Forces military assistance program, military family resource centres, the operational stress injury social support program, and the road to mental readiness program.  There are more, but the most important thing is that we understand that what our soldiers go through is not easy. The work they do is very hard, very dangerous and full of very difficult experiences. I think it is important for all of us to encourage soldiers who need help to get that help.”
  • What the Defence Minister said during Question Period yesterday  “Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister indicated, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, colleagues, and friends of these individuals.  Suicide is a tragedy, and we have a role to play in reaching out to those who are hurting and encouraging them to get help. I know that the Canadian Armed Forces has a confidential 24/7 toll-free telephone advisory and referral service. I would urge all of those who are going through a crisis to reach out.  There is help. We all have a responsibility to make sure that they know that …. we all have a role to play in making sure that the services are there for our men and women in uniform and indeed for our veterans.  The member indicated that she would like to see more money spent on health care, more investment, and there certainly has been under this government. We have almost doubled the number of health care professionals.  We all do what we have to do to make sure that these individuals are approached and in making sure that they know help is there. I urge them to contact the armed forces to have the services that are in place made available to them …. it was under this government that we created a joint personnel support unit to allow our ill and injured members to work with medical personnel, social workers, occupational therapists and others to help them transition back into civilian life. However, again, one of the things the member could do is start supporting the efforts we have made over the years to increase help to our veterans. That would be a first step, and I certainly would welcome that …. The Chief of the Defence Staff and the Chief of Military Personnel have assured me that members of the Canadian Armed Forces are not released until they are prepared for that transition. I remind the member opposite that every possible accommodation is made to ensure that soldiers are kept in the forces and provided with the best possible support before being considered for release. This is the least we can do for them.”
  • What the Defence Minister has to say about mental health  “…. As Canadians and members of the Canadian Armed Forces, we must all be vigilant of our subordinates, peers, superiors and family members. We need to watch for changes in behaviour, be ready to listen to our friends and aid them in seeking care if we think they need it.  Often, peers and family members are the first to notice behavioural changes such as increased anxiety, anger, sadness, negativity, avoidance and substance-use that could lead to mental health difficulties. When we notice these changes, we must not be afraid to act – do not underestimate the impact you can have.  I encourage those in need to reach out to their families, peers, supervisors, padres and medical professionals. Help is available at your base and wing clinics, via the member assistance program (1 800 268 7708), at your local emergency room or by calling 911 ….”
  • What the Chief of Defence Staff has to say about mental health  “…. For those of you currently combating mental illness, don’t avoid or delay accessing support services and treatment. If you have thoughts of suicide, help is immediately available by calling 911. Expert help is also available at your base and wing clinics, via the member assistance program (1-800-268-7708) or at your local emergency room. Reach out to your friends, family members, leaders, padres and medical professionals for support.  Self-stigma regarding mental health must end. Just as you would expect to be helped by your colleagues on the battlefield if you were physically injured, your brothers and sisters in arms are with you in the fight against mental illness.  Care is available to each of us. From private to General, from recruit to retirement; we’re a team and we’re there to support each other.”
  • The chorus of voices calling for more government aid in support of soldiers and veterans is growing as army officials confirmed the death of a soldier as the fourth apparent military suicide in a week.  The Canadian Forces said an investigation is underway into the death of a soldier at CFB Valcartier in Quebec. The soldier — 46-year-old Sylvain Lelievre — was reportedly a member of the Royal 22e Regiment.  Last week, the apparent suicides of three other Canadian soldiers raised questions about the services and care offered to troubled soldiers and veterans ….”
  • Veterans’ advocacy group e-mail newsletter on how keen politicians are to meet with them or union reps to discuss VAC office closures  “…. Peter MacKay is one of 26 Members of Parliament we have asked for meetings with – each is being asked to go on the record opposing the closures and to help us stop them. We asked for that meeting in October, but MacKay has so far been unable to find time to meet, something Ron Clarke took up with staff in his office while they were there ….”
  • Remembering one of the wounded in the House of Commons  “Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to pay tribute to the courage and determination of Corporal Alexandre Beaudin-D’Anjou from Pont-Rouge, which is in my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.  Corporal Beaudin-D’Anjou proudly served in Afghanistan, where he was seriously injured by an improvised explosive device on December 6, 2009.  That tragic experience left him suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but now he is overcoming his difficulties and taking on a major challenge.  Currently en route to the South Pole, Corporal Beaudin-D’Anjou is one of two Canadians on Team Soldier On who are taking part in the UK’s South Pole Allied Challenge. He and his team, made up of other injured veterans, will cross-country ski 335 km over a period of more than two weeks, braving temperatures as low as -50C.  His bravery merits our respect. He is a role model for each and every one of us.  Good luck on your journey, Corporal Beaudin-D’Anjou, and thank you for your exemplary service.”
  • Philippines/typhoon  “He’s halfway around the world doing work he did not intend to do, but Sgt. Tom Baker feels blessed to be in the PhilippinesThe 46-year-old father of four recently left 14 Wing Greenwood and is currently posted with 8 Wing in Trenton, Ont., where he is an air traffic controller.  Shortly after Nov. 8, when typhoon Haiyan killed thousands in the Southeast Asian country, Baker was told his special unit could be headed there.  He is part of 8 Air Communication and Control Squadron, which is a deployable air traffic control and communications unit. They have the ability to set up runway lights, air control towers, radar and can essentially create airports where they are needed within 72 hours ….”
  • The Canadian NORAD Region (CANR) will participate in Exercise Amalgam Dart, December 3 to 5, 2013, off the Canadian Atlantic coast, to practice intercept and identification procedures, as well as air-to-air refueling, as part of routine training …. Royal Canadian Air Force participation in Amalgam Dart will include the following air assets:  CF-18 Hornets from 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec; A CP-140 Aurora from 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia; (and) A CC-130T Hercules from 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba.  The majority of the Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft will be based at 14 Wing Greenwood and 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, with the CC-130T Hercules flying out of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador ….”
  • Great pix of Canadian troops and planes taking part in Exercise Serpentex in Corsica – more info from the Info-machine here
  • Congrats!  Twenty years after she joined the Canadian Army, people still ask Major Eleanor Taylor why she chose the infantry.  “Why wouldn’t you choose the infantry?” she repliesLooking for adventure outside the town limits of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Maj Taylor’s career in the Army has taken her to Kosovo, Bosnia and, in 2010, to Afghanistan where she was the first woman to command a Canadian infantry company in combat.  Most recently, however, it’s taken her to Toronto where she and Lieutenant-Colonel Krista Brodie were named to Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 list, compiled each year by the Women’s Executive Network.  “Having been nominated is an example of the Army’s commitment to championing its leaders,” says LCol Brodie, a logistics officer, currently serving as the Chief of Staff of the Canadian Materiel Support Group.  “I joined the Army because I wanted to serve our nation in a meaningful way, and the Army has offered countless opportunities to contribute to Canadian society and to help others around the world.”  With 25 years of service in the Army, LCol Brodie has qualified as a Military Freefall Parachutist, deployed to Croatia, Bosnia and Afghanistan, and was the first woman to command 1 Service Battalion ….” - a “way to go” from Canada’s army boss here, and more on the list here
  • Congrats, also, to Captain(N) Jill Marrack Deputy Commander Naval Reserve Naval Reserve Headquarters, who also made it into the
    Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 list
  • Academic on who decides whether countries go to war  “Over the weekend, the Globe and Mail’s Doug Saunders issued a call for caution in light of recent events in the East China Sea and in Iran: that militaries may push civilians into unwanted and lengthy conflicts.  Using lessons gleaned from the experiences of the First World War, Saunders rightly notes that militaries lacking oversight can provide civilians with so few options that war seems like the only choice.  The problem is that he then extends his analysis to Afghanistan, a war where the timetables were so very clearly driven by politics in Kabul, in Brussels, in Washington, and in Ottawa ….”
  • Way Up North (1)  Academic on why Canada’s keen on getting dibs on the North Pole  “…. “First of all bragging rights, of course. But the more important, and the part that really gets to why we’re spending so much money doing it and why the Russians and the Americans and the Danes are doing it, is the potential for oil and gas,” he said.  “We don’t know what is on the soil and sub-soil and that’s really what we’re claiming, basically gas and oil. But once we start looking at the types of resources that we are starting to find closer to the coastline, there is significant suspicion that you are going to find a lot of oil and gas up in that region and it’s that suspicion, of the amount of resources that are there, that’s really driving this entire process,” (Arctic expert at the University of Calgary Rob) Huebert said ….” – more on the latest here
  • Way Up North (2a)  “Russian naval forces are set to make the Arctic a priority region, boosting combat training and scouting lesser-known areas of the icy territory in 2014, a navy spokesman said MondayThe Northern Fleet will conduct sailing and diving expeditions in the Arctic and develop a series of ice-class patrol ships to protect the country’s interest in the region, said Vadim Serga, a captain First Class and spokesman for the fleet’s Western Military District.  Russia has already begun deploying aerospace defense units and constructing an early missile warning adar system near the far northern town of Vorkuta. Completion of that system is planned for 2018 ….” – more here and here
  • Way Up North (3b)  Russian border guards are apparently getting specially-heated uniforms for the cold Arctic weather – click here if you can read Russian, here if you trust Google Translate
  • Way Up North (3)  “As China’s presence in the Arctic grows, international attention also grows. This paper clarifies China’s interests in the Arctic and touches on future trends in this regard ….”
  • Way Up North (4)  “The four U.S. senators from Washington and Alaska are seeking to authorize construction of as many as four new heavy-duty icebreakers, vastly expanding the Coast Guard’s beleaguered Seattle-based icebreaker fleet.But with a price tag of $850 million or more per vessel, the odds of Congress going along seem about as good as a snowball’s chance in the warming polar climate ….”
  • A bail hearing for a Canadian naval engineer accused of trying to send classified information on Canada’s shipbuilding strategy to China has been postponedQing Quentin Huang, 53, from Waterdown, Ont., appeared in a Toronto courtroom Wednesday, wearing a black shearling jacket over a blue button-down shirt.  He spoke briefly to his lawyers from the prisoner’s box before the matter was adjourned to Monday, Dec. 9 ….”
  • Libya  “The United States, Italy, Britain, and Turkey have agreed to train thousands of Libyan troops to counter the instability caused by the numerous and often opposing militias that remain powerful there more than two years after the overthrow of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi.  The United States will conduct its training in Bulgaria. Britain, Italy, and Turkey will theirs in their own countries. It is expected that current militia members will be among the recruits, although the United States will vet names supplied by the Libyan Defence Ministry to exclude hard-line Islamists.  Canada, which played an active role in the armed uprising against Gadhafi’s regime, has not said it will take part in this training mission. But Jean-Bruno Villeneuve, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, says Canada is “considering other ways to help further Libyan security sector reform.” ….”
  • Canada:  BAAAAD North Korea!  “Canada strongly condemns North Korea’s continued belligerence and provocative actions. I am pleased to announce that Canada will implement additional sanctions on North Korea, in accordance with United Nation Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2094.  This resolution, co-sponsored by Canada, sends a clear message that the international community will make every possible effort to halt the country’s reckless pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.  The current path of the regime will only result in further isolation.  North Korea continually scorns its international obligations, while ignoring the fundamental human rights of its people, who continue to suffer under its dictatorship ….”
  • From the “WTF?” File  “Giving Santa Claus and his reindeer a military fighter jet escort on Christmas Eve amounts to manipulative military marketing aimed at defenseless young minds, a Berkeley child psychologist says ….  NORAD, the joint U.S.-Canada military force that protects our skies as well as runs the beloved Santa Tracker each holiday season, is under fire. The reasons? A video that shows Santa and his reindeer accompanied by a military fighter jet escort ….” – more here
  • And NORAD’s response?  “As it has every year since 1955, the North American Aerospace Defense Command will be tracking Santa on his whirlwind journey to deliver presents to all the good little boys and girls around the world.  But he won’t be escorted by armed fighter jets.  When NORAD recently launched its yearly online Santa tracker, the site featured a video showing the jolly old elf being escorted by U.S. fighter jets “bristling with missiles,” as the Boston Globe put it.  That caused a minor earthquake in the Twitterverse about why Santa would need an armed escort. The answer: Russia.  But a NORAD spokesman confirmed to Military Times that the “missiles” are actually fuel tanks.  “Guilty as charged, we tried to give it a more operational feel this year; that was purposefully done to try to highlight our mission sets,” said Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis. “If you look at the second promo video we have where it talks through a mock training exercise, it really lays out what our different missions are and shows the different radar sets.”  So while NORAD will be tracking Santa’s flight this Christmas, if St. Nick gets into a tussle with some MiGs, his only defense will be the evasive capabilities of his reindeer ….”  At least it reduces the odds of this happening, I guess.
  • And what will be Canada’s contribution to Norad’s Santa tracking?  “The Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Region is set to track and escort Santa Claus during his annual visit to Canada and has selected four CF-18 fighter pilots for the high profile job.  Lieutenant-Colonel Darcy Molstad and Captain Sébastien Gorelov of 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron from 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, will conduct the first escort duties to welcome Santa into Canada when they join him off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.  As Santa zooms across Canada and approaches the Ontario-Manitoba border, escort duties will switch to Captain Rich Cohen and Captain Brian Kilroy of 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta ….”

Written by milnewsca

5 December 13 at 7:55

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – October 16, 2013

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Written by milnewsca

16 October 13 at 7:45

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – March 19, 2013

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Written by milnewsca

19 March 13 at 7:45

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – March 11, 2013

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – February 5, 2013

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  • Mali (1)  Canada’s ambassador to the European Union is expected to stay quiet during a major meeting in Brussels (today) where the international community will be gathering to discuss the situation in MaliAmbassador David Plunkett will be among those from 45 countries as well as the United Nations, African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the World Bank talking about ways to bring peace and stability to Mali.  But Plunkett will not announce any increase or expansion to Canada’s role in the country, which has largely involved providing humanitarian assistance and deploying a heavy military transport aircraft to help France move troops and equipment into the West African nation.  A government source said Canada will continue to watch developments in Mali, where Islamic militants are on the run in the north of the country, and may make further contributions in the future, including financial support for the African-led military force poised to take over from  French troops who have routed the militants.  “I don’t think we expect this will be a short game,” the source said, noting elections to return Mali to democratic rule won’t be held until July.  However, all indications remain that the government is not interested in getting dragged into the conflict ….”
  • Mali (2a)  Columnist on the fight ahead  “…. While France’s initial military objectives have been met, it is evident that the crisis in Mali is the tip of a much larger regional powder keg. Like stepping on one side of a water balloon, pushing the Islamic Maghreb and Tuareg separatists out of Mali has only built up pressure elsewhere.  Even with the addition of 3,300 troops promised by the Economic Community of Western African States, the Malian security forces will be hard pressed to hold the French military’s gains on their own.”
  • Mali (2b)  rabble.ca column’s take  “…. The west has been in perpetual war with Muslims of all kinds ever since 9/11, never quite winning. As the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald has reminded us, Mali is the eighth country in the last four years where western countries have killed Muslims. Shouldn’t the aim in Mali be to determine realistic goals before we kill again?  In the meantime, Canada should be a generous humanitarian donor to Mali’s refugees and displaced people ….”
  • Mali (2c)  Another writer aching for the days of the blue beret (question:  can the peace be “kept” if both sides haven’t agreed yet to stop fighting?)  “…. Within the next few weeks, the U.N. Security Council may well authorize an U.N.-led peacekeeping mission to stabilize Mali after the French-led combat mission ends. The success of the peacekeeping mission will turn, in large part, on whether well-trained soldiers from the developed world are involved.  It’s a mission tailor-made for Canada; one that Pearson would undoubtedly have embraced.”
  • Mali (3)  More on whazzup in Mali here (Google News), here (EMM Explorer) and here (France’s defence ministry’s daily update in French)
  • Syria  Can you spare a few bucks to help someone (allegedly) wanting to fight the good fight?  This from kijiji (also here if previous link doesn’t work):  “I am a ex cdn soldier with experience looking for sponsorship so I can go train and fight with the Free Syrian army. I need to gather about $10,000 for the mission to be successful.”
  • Joshua Caleb Baker, 1985-2010, R.I.P.  It was an emotional day of testimony inside the trial of a former Canadian Forces Commander.  Retired Warrant Officer Paul Ravensdale pleaded not guilty to six charges including manslaughter in death of Corporal Joshua Baker. The 24-year-old died during a training accident in Afghanistan in 2010.  Four other soldiers were injured.  Those soldiers testified for the first time Monday.  They told the military court on Feb. 12, 2010, the only thing standing between them and the C-19 they were learning to use was their body armor. The prosecution says Ravensdale should have never let that happen.  They were standing out in the open when two C-19 land mines, also known as claymores, were set off during a training exercise.  Cpl. Joshua Baker was killed when shrapnel from one of the explosions backfired.  The commander, now retired Warrant officer Paul Ravensdale has pleaded not guilty to six charges including manslaughter and breach of duty ….”
  • Need info on the foreign bases that aren’t really foreign bases?  This from the CF Info-machine, just updated about a week ago.
  • Libya  Curiouser and curiouser  There’s a kind of Mission Impossible vibe to the relationship between Cyndy Vanier and SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal-based international engineering giant enmeshed in allegations of corruption and consorting with dictatorsVanier, a Canadian consultant who worked for SNC-Lavalin, has been languishing in a Mexican prison for more than a year while a judge there decides if she was part of a plot to spirit Saadi Gadhafi out of Libya as his father’s dictatorship crumbled under a rebel onslaught in 2011.  According to CBC News, Vanier insists she was hired by SNC-Lavalin controller Stephane Roy, under orders from executive vice-president Riadh Ben Alissa, for a legitimate “fact-finding” trip to Libya.  Mexican authorities allege she was helping set up an exit route for Gadhafi, a senior commander in father Muammar Gadhafi’s regime, and smuggle him and his family into Mexico under false identities. Gadhafi eventually escaped to Niger, Libya’s neighbour, and has been given asylum ….”
  • Vets’ Ombudsman latest report“…. by not providing applicants with copies of documents retrieved and submitted to disability adjudicators, applicants are denied their participation rights and the right to a fair hearing, including the right to be aware of the information that will be considered by adjudicators (the right to disclosure), the right to provide their own information and to challenge the information available to decision-makers, and the right to determine the relevance of information provided to adjudicators. For these reasons, the current practice is procedurally unfair ….” - more from the media here and here.
  • The Government’s Response“The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, …. launched the “Right to Fairness Implementation Plan” to cut red tape for Veterans applying to Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) for disability benefits.  The plan addresses the recently issued Ombudsman report entitled “Veterans’ Right to Disclosure: A Matter of Procedural Fairness.” It consists of new measures that will ensure Veterans and their families have a better understanding of the Department’s disability benefit application process for considering information and how that information is used to make a decision on their applications ….”  We’ll see ….
  • In other ombudsman news….  The Canadian Forces ombudsman says the Harper government has an opportunity now to help military families who’ve suffered huge home-equity losses by amending proposed legislation that’s before ParliamentPierre Daigle testified Monday before a House of Commons committee that’s studying C-15, the latest attempt in a decade-long struggle to overhaul the military justice system.  Since 2007, as many as 146 applications for reimbursement have been denied to military families for losses they’ve taken after selling their homes because of forced transfers to different parts of the country.  The problem could be solved by giving the country’s top military commander the full power to make one-time payments in grievance cases, Daigle told the all-party Commons defence committee.  “This is an unfairness that people serving this country are facing, and all we want is to solve this unfairness,” Daigle said in an interview with The Canadian Press following his testimony.  The legislation being studied by the committee has been before Parliament several times, in different forms, over the last 10 years without being passed ….”
  • HMCS Ville De Quebec is taking part in an composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) with the Aircraft Carrier USS Harry Truman, as a memeber of the 1st Combined Destroyer Squadron (1CDS) 1CDS members currently include USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Gravely (DDG 107), the German ship FGS Hamburg (F220), and the Canadian ships HMCS Ville De Quebec (FFH 332) and HMCS Preserver (AOR 510); USS Monterey (CG 61), USS Gettysburg (CG 64), and USS Kauffman (FFG 59).  COMPTUEX is a series of training scenarios designed to certify HSTSG as a deployment-ready fighting force capable of completing operations in overseas theaters ….”
  • Way Up North  Head’s up for military training in northeastern Ontario all the way up to Ontario’s James Bay coast  “Canadian Forces personnel from across Ontario will conduct military training in the vicinity of Cochrane, Fraserdale and Moosonee, Ontario, from February 8 to 26, 2013, as part of Exercise TRILLIUM RESPONSE 2013.  Soldiers and military vehicles, including snowmobiles, will be seen in these areas, as well as low flying aircraft including large transport aircraft and helicopters. Military vehicles can be expected to travel at reduced speeds and motorists are advised to exercise care and patience when encountering military vehicles and soldiers on foot or on snowmobiles. Soldiers will be using blank ammunition and pyrotechnics; loud noises may be heard ….” 
  • More on Jointex 2013  “In anticipation of a variety of potential future operations, the Canadian Forces are currently engaged in a series of training exercises they began planning three years ago, collectively named JOINTEX 13, which will prepare them to take on a leadership role in multinational expeditionary operations.  ““JOINTEX provides a predictable, repeatable, and adaptable means to learn and improve, allowing us the critical opportunity to play it out in training before living it out in actual operations,’” said Lieutenant-General Stuart Beare, Commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command.  JOINTEX will prepare the Canadian Forces to lead a Combined Joint-Inter Agency Task Force Headquarters (CJIATF), with 1st Canadian Division Headquarters at its centre, responsible for planning and conducting coalition full-spectrum operations with multinational military forces and both governmental and non-governmental agencies.  ““This training allows us to further develop our replication of the contemporary and future operating environments in the live, virtual, and constructive training domains – all at the same time and in multiple locations,”” said Major-General John Collin, Commander 1st Canadian Division.  While the majority of planning and coordination for the exercise takes place at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Kingston, there are also approximately 1,000 Canadian Forces members taking part in the exercise through simulations across Canada because the exercise is computer-assisted ….”
  • Columnist on Ministers not getting all the information they need (or want)  “…. Canada needs a military, and it needs an effective, capable one. But that requires civilian oversight, as much for the military’s benefit as the taxpayers’. It seems increasingly clear that right now, we don’t have that. And it’s hard to see how that will change any time soon.”
  • Academic on what the Army should be preparing to do  “…. With instability throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East, the future of warfare looks likely to be dominated by insurgencies and failed states. Still, the war drums beating in northeast Asia over the Korean peninsula and the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands hedge against the possibility of a traditional state on state conflict marked by conventional capabilities. There are no easy answers to the question of what future Canada must demand its Army to prepare for. The Army clearly wishes to have as much capability it can get out of the state while Canadians might prefer to have only so much capability as we can afford. Hybrid warfare is a great concept to hedge bets, but one that doesn’t shed too much light on the space between those two positions, or on the hard decisions of deciding what Canada’s Army is for.”
  • Canada’s Defence Minister drops by Norway  “…. the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, concluded a visit to Norway, during which he held bilateral discussions with his Norwegian counterpart, Minister of Defence Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen …. This visit provided both Ministers an opportunity to share insights and understanding on a wide range of issues and deepen Canada-Norway bilateral defence ties ….”
  • Columnist on how the navy spy trial could be drawing Canada’s eye from the real threat  “…. In this century, authoritarian regimes may be more interested in, say, the government’s deliberations over allowing a Chinese state-owned enterprise to acquire a Canadian oil company than in military intelligence. Stealing intellectual property may be a bigger catch than ferreting out double agents ….”
  • Note to headline writers:  is it “spying” when most of the information is out in the public domain?  The Mounties compiled a dossier on the Occupy Ottawa movement, scouring social media sites and even quizzing campus security after protesters held planning sessions at a university, newly released documents show Meeting notes show there were also plans to monitor the Confederation Park protest site using a camera mounted to the nearby offices of the National Capital Commission.  The camera is normally pointed at Ottawa’s city hall, the notes say. However, the NCC says it does not operate the camera and it did not use the device to monitor the protests from its offices.  The documents show NCC staff did keep close tabs on the makeshift encampment throughout the occupation, snapping dozens of photographs and reporting on the protesters’ activities.  Details about the surveillance tactics are only now coming to light, some 14 months after police ousted the Occupy Ottawa protesters from Confederation Park in late November 2011. It took the NCC until last week to provide documents in response to an access-to-information request from The Canadian Press ….”  No word on whether the documents are being shared, so no clue what else is there.
  • More on those OTHER squadrons that helped win the Battle of Britain (10 page RCAF Info-machine PDF)

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – January 25, 2013

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  • More Mali (1)  The CF’s Globemaster’s ferrying troops, hardware until just after Valentine’s Day “(Yesterday), the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird extended Canada’s assistance to France through the extension of one CC-177 Globemaster aircraft until February 15. This aircraft is available to France to move equipment and personnel to Mali’s capital, Bamako. This aircraft and Canadian Armed Forces personnel will not be part of combat operations.  Canada will continue to monitor events in Mali and the Sahel ….” - more here, here, here, here, here and here 
  • More Mali (2)  Nigeria wants more Canada (and more)  “Nigeria’s ambassador to Canada, Ojo Maduekwe, on Thursday pressed his hosts to further reinforce French and African troops battling Islamist rebels in Mali.  In an interview with the daily Globe and Mail, the ambassador said Nigeria and other West African nations, which have committed 3,700 troops to the fight, need the military backing of Canada and other Western nations.  “What is required here is global political will, and global resources far beyond the capacity of African states, to see this thing as a common threat and deal with it,” he said.  “Rather than waiting for this thing to get worse, the time to deal with it is now, by a more imaginative, bolder and more creative response. An incremental approach ultimately is not the smartest thing to do. It will be more convenient for now, but more costly in the future.”  A single C-17 military transport aircraft “is something. It’s not enough,” he added, alluding to Canada’s contribution to the mission so far.  “We need equipment, which we do not have. We need funding for this — it shouldn’t be seen as a regional problem, it’s an international problem. We need training in dealing with this kind of threat,” he said ….”
  • More Mali (3)  Analyst on the political play  “…. discussions of Canada’s role in the Mali mission have taken a confusing twist in Ottawa.  Having sent one transport plane to support French troops in Mali, Prime Minister Stephen Harper now says he is seeking “broad national consensus” on what Canada’s next steps should be. In particular, he is reaching out to the New Democratic Party, hoping it will support the effort. This is both instructive and confusing.  It is instructive in that, as the NDP seeks to maintain its position as the Official Opposition, rather than the third or fourth party it was not that long ago, it has incentives to support NATO efforts.  I noticed in my work on the NATO effort in Afghanistan that very new or very old (formerly Communist) left-wing parties feel a certain amount of pressure to support NATO operations so that they do not appear too fringe or pacifist.  It is far easier for more-established parties to oppose a country’s efforts in NATO.  It is confusing because Harper, with his majority government, does not need any votes from the NDP.  Canadian law does not require parliamentary votes for foreign deployments, regardless of the parliamentary votes over the Afghanistan mission.  So, why is Harper seeking the NDP’s support for Canadian efforts in Mali? I recently spent some time on Twitter with Phil Lagassé and Ted Campbell pondering what might be up. The possible explanations are many ….”
  • Algeria  Someone’s digging into reports of Canadian involvement  “Canadian officials are on the ground in Algeria probing reports that Canadians were involved in the deadly hostage-taking at a gas plant.  They have joined Algerian officials looking into the assault on the natural gas facility by attackers who reportedly only sought out the westerners working at the plant.  Thirty-seven Algerian and foreign employees were killed when the Algerian military launched their own raid to retake control of the sprawling energy complex.  The Algerian prime minister has fingered at least one of the militants as a Canadian who “co-ordinated the attack.” …. The foreign affairs department confirmed that Canadians investigators are now on scene in Algeria to further examine claims of Canadian involvement.  “Canadian officials are on the ground in Algeria working with Algerian officials to get the necessary information,” said Rick Roth, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.  A spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would not comment on reports that the Canadian investigators in Algeria are from the Mounties.”
  • A reminder that Canada’s no stranger to al-Qaeda  “…. Since 2008, when Canada’s anti-terrorism legislation recorded its first conviction, there has been a steady increase in the number of terrorism-related arrests and prosecutions.  Over two dozen Canadians have been arrested or indicted on terrorism-related crimes in Canada and abroad, the vast majority inspired by al-Qaeda.  Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), said last year that it was monitoring 250 people suspected of being involved in terrorism, up from 200 in 2010, and it was spending just under half of its $514m (£326m) annual budget on counter-terrorism.  A “massive, massive effort” for a country with a population of 34 million people, according to CSIS Director Richard Fadden ….” 
  • Along the same lines ….  “…. “We know from past history that there have been several occasions where Canadian extremists have gone overseas to participate in armed conflicts and in many cases they end up dead,” said Stewart Bell, who is a senior reporter at the National Post and the author of two books about homegrown terrorism.  In 2008, Ottawa-born Momin Khawaja was convicted under Canada’s anti-terrorism laws for his role in plotting a London bombing with an Islamist extremist group. In 2006, a group of men called the Toronto 18 were arrested and charged for plotting to bomb Canadian targets in retaliation for the country’s involvement in Afghanistan. And just last week, Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana was sentenced to 14 years in prison for providing support to overseas terrorism in Pakistan.  Just last April Richard Fadden, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told a Senate committee at least 45 Canadians have travelled or attempted to travel from Canada to Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen to join al-Qaeda affliates.  Fadden also pointed to a “disturbing” number of Canadians or permanent residents involved in terrorist activities overseas back in 2010, naming regions like the Middle East, parts of Africa and South Asia.  The transformation from a Regular Joe to a radical is rooted in ideology, not location, according to Dr. Wagdy Loza, a psychiatry professor at Queen’s University and the retired chief psychologist of Kingston Penitentiary.  “It is not related to location but rather the leader who is convinced and the others who are willing to be convinced,” he said ….”
  • Libya  “Canadians are being urged to immediately leave areas of Libya, including the eastern city of Benghazi, in response to a heightened risk of terrorism targeting expatriates and foreign travellers.  The federal government issued a travel advisory Thursday evening warning its citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to Benghazi, Bani Walid and regions of Sabha and Kufra citing what it called an “unpredictable security situation.” ….”
  • Fighting pirates  “On 27 November 2012, a merchant ship crossing the Indian Ocean took self-protective measures in reaction to two skiffs that were shadowing it. When the master reported the incident to the NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) in Northwood, England, the anti-piracy team based there quickly took action “On the basis of further information from the ship, the NSC assessment — produced in conjunction with colleagues at NATO, Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa and the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations office in Dubai — was that this was a Pirate Attack Group,” said Lieutenant-Commander Nicholas Smith of Task Force Northwood, the Canadian Forces team deployed at the NSC.  After determining that the skiffs were part of a Pirate Attack Group, the NSC proceeded to identify and warn all other vessels in the area of the danger. NATO and European Union warships also went to the area to look for the pirate vessels ….”
  • Way Up North  “Canadian Rangers from seven First Nation communities made a big impression on an army colonel during a four-day visit to northern Ontario.  “It has been a wonderful and very useful experience,” said Colonel 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 –40C and windchills reaching as low as –58C. Despite that she shot outdoors with Rangers at Lac Seul, 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 ….”
  • The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, attended a roundtable meeting (yesterday) with members of Branch 001 of the Royal Canadian Legion (in Regina). The event was part of his continued efforts to consult with Veterans and their families to ensure the Government is meeting their needs ….”
  • While the American military is finally allowing women to work in combat roles, some U.S. media look at how Canada did it here and here.
  • Columnist rips into convicted spy Jeff Delisle

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – January 18, 2013

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  • More Mali (1a)  Canada’s first drop-off complete – this (via Google Translate) from the French defence ministry info-machine“…. This day was mainly marked by the arrival of France Helicopter Group aero-mobile. They were transported by a strategic airlifter C17 Canadian, marking the beginning of Canada’s support for the operation Serval …. ” - more from media here.
  • More Mali (1b)  Still, France wants MORE ….  “…. While the French military appreciates this logistical support, France’s ambassador to Canada, Philippe Zeller, told CBC News Thursday that his country wants Canada to provide it for longer than the limited period Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Monday.  French President François Hollande and Harper spoke by telephone Wednesday. The brief information provided by the prime minister’s office about the call didn’t indicate that extending Canada’s mission was part of the conversation, but Zeller says that’s when the request was made ….”
  • More Mali (1c)  Meanwhile,France’s appeal for more troops in Mali falling on deaf ears
  • More Mali (2)  DFAIT Travel Warning:  Don’t Go to Mali, and Get Out if you’re There!
  • More Mali (3)  He’s (allegedly) baaaack….. He was dubbed “The Uncatchable.” The RCMP tried to catch him anyway, determined to prosecute him for kidnapping two Canadian diplomats and holding them for 130 days in the Sahara desert.  The hunt by the RCMP failed – and now their target, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, is reported to be the mastermind behind a dramatic Algerian hostage-taking raid that reveals the regional perils attached to the French-led military offensive in Mali.  About 20 heavily armed Islamist radicals killed a Briton and an Algerian at a natural-gas complex in Algeria Wednesday morning. They injured six others and captured dozens of hostages, including ciizens of the U.S., Britain, France, Norway, Ireland and Japan ….”
  • More Mali (4)  Sun Media opinion piece  “….  Why is Canada involving itself in Mali’s civil war? A war between undemocratic military autocrats and Qaddafi-trained Jihadists?  We have no strategic interests, few economic ties, and no cultural or historic attachment with Mali. We’ve called the regime illegitimate and condemned their actions.  Are we just going to keep chasing al-Qaeda around Africa, even if it means teaming up with warlords and despots?  War is a horrible thing. It causes death and destruction. It kills the good alongside the bad. There are plenty of regimes we don’t like around the world, plenty of terrible governments harming their people.  We should learn from our mistakes in Libya and the unintended consequences of our actions against Qaddafi. For every bad guy you eventually kill, you engage and activate unknown others along the way ….”
  • More Mali (5)  More on whazzup in Mali here (Google News), here (EMM Explorer) and here (France’s defence ministry’s latest update in French)
  • More “down the road” talk about the CF  The Canadian Forces (CF) face an existential question.  It is not the quality of its individual members; they are thoroughly trained and individually highly professional, well-led soldiers, sailors and aviators.  It is not the quality of its equipment, despite substantial concerns over “rusted out” naval vessels, questionable submarines, and delays into the never/never decisions for next-generation aircraft.  Rather, the question is the mission the CF will pursue into the out years of the first half of the 21st century.  And mission equals money; money equals mission …..”
  • More in the same vein  “…. At one extreme are those who call for Canada, like Iceland and Costa Rica, to abandon our standing army and no longer be part of NATO. Most Canadians appear to favour a military which is adequately equipped and funded to protect our sovereignty over territorial waters and airspace, and to have a say at the table on global security by rapidly deploying anywhere in the world on occasions when needed to protect civilians under siege. I favour this approach.”
  • Canadian military veterans living on Ottawa’s streets need more help, according to an Ottawa city councillor, who is trying to push officials to improve th co-ordination of support servicesCoun. Steve Desroches, who represents the ward of Gloucester-South Nepean, said he believes all the necessary support programs exist in Ottawa to help homeless military veterans.  But Desroches said they are disconnected and not as effective as they could or should be, which means many homeless veteran live under the radar.  “If we can help by identifying them and making sure they’re getting the programs they need, I think we’ll have succeeded,” Desroches said.  “This is about tapping in to the good work the Royal Canadian Legion is doing.” ….” - more here.
  • The latest from the VAC Info-machine on how looking into a Toronto veterans’ nursing home is coming along  “The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, announced …. that the first meeting of the External Advisory Committee in charge of providing independent advice on the audit of the Veterans Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre was held on Thursday, January 10, 2013, at the facility. The Committee, chaired by the Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent, includes representation from organizations involved in Veterans’ issues, and individuals with health expertise …. While the audit is still in progress, on-site visits and interviews with over 100 residents and family members have been recently completed. The audit results are expected in the winter of 2013.  The Veterans Ombudsman, Guy Parent, has elected to participate as an independent observer throughout the audit process and is providing an independent avenue for Veterans and their families to raise additional or other concerns.”
  • A 36-year-old soldier and Afghanistan veteran who had sex with three women without telling them he has herpes, infecting two, pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing bodily harm FridayMaster Cpl. Mathew Wilson admits he had unprotected sex with two women he met on Internet dating sites and protected sex with a neighbor between 2005 and 2009 …. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7.  Wilson faces a trial on a charge of possessing child pornography Feb. 24.”
  • Has it been 22 years already?  An American-led coalition of a half million soldiers mustered in the Persian Gulf in the closing months of 1990. The coalition readied itself for war under the auspices of the United Nations as a result of Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait and its threat to peace and security in the Persian Gulf.  The Allies were under significant pressure given the capabilities of Saddam Hussein’s military forces. The Iraqis possessed considerable military breadth and depth. The Iraqi army had over one million soldiers in uniform supported by more than 5,500 tanks, including modern T-72s and over 3,000 artillery pieces. To this was added the elite Republican Guard who numbered over 80,000 troops. And the Iraqis also boasted over 750 French- and Soviet-made aircraft, including 500 fighters and fighter-bombers …. The Canadian Forces deployed to the Persian Gulf in August 1990, shortly after the UN passed Resolution 661 authorizing an embargo against Iraq to restore peace to the region. Operation Friction, the Canadian contribution to the Allied effort, brought together a Naval Task Group, a field hospital and 24 CF-18 fighters ….”
  • An Ontario bodyguard who worked for Saadi Gaddafi provided “invaluable assistance” to the Libyan dictatorship as it attempted to brutally crush an anti-regime uprising in 2011, the Canada Border Services Agency alleged on Wednesday.  At an immigration hearing in Toronto, the CBSA accused Gary Peters of complicity in war crimes, citing the “vital role” it said he had played as bodyguard to Mr. Gaddafi, the son of dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and a commander in the Libyan special forces.  Mr. Peters was so well-entrenched in the Gaddafi regime that he was given a pass card that allowed him unfettered access to any government building, the agency alleged as it for the first time laid out its case against the man it called “Saadi’s bodyguard.”  Summoned to Libya in February 2011 by Saadi Gaddafi himself, Mr. Peters accompanied the dictator’s son to meetings with senior members of the regime and to public rallies where he represented his father, Kristen Smyth, a CBSA officer, told the hearing ….”
  • A Pakistani-born Canadian citizen was sentenced to 14 years in prison Thursday for providing material support to overseas terrorism, including a Pakistani group whose 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, left more than 160 people dead.  Tahawwur Rana did not address the court before U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber imposed the sentence and did not react afterward. But his defence attorneys said the judge was right to reject prosecutors’ arguments that Rana deserved a stiffer sentence because the charges were related to terrorism.  Jurors in 2011 convicted Rana of providing support for the Pakistani group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and for supporting a never-carried-out plot to attack a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005. The cartoons angered many Muslims because pictures of the prophet are prohibited in Islam ….” – more here.

Written by milnewsca

18 January 13 at 7:45

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – November 17, 2012

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – November 16, 2012

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Written by milnewsca

16 November 12 at 7:45

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – October 22, 2012

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  • Afghanistan  Welcome home!  “The first group of Canadian Forces (CF) personnel to take part in Operation ATTENTION (Roto-1) are returning home to Fredericton, New Brunswick, and Trenton, Ontario, after an eight-month mission in Afghanistan …. The CF deployed more than 900 military trainers and support personnel to Afghanistan to take part in Operation ATTENTION, the Canadian component of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan …. Since February 2012, the CF personnel, primarily from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, in Gagetown, New Brunswick, were involved in training and preparing the Afghan National Security Forces in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif ….”
  • Rare scotch going for a great cause  “A decades-old bottle of very rare Scotch has sold at an auction in Toronto for a record price.  The 55-year-old bottle of Glenfiddich single malt, called Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve, is one of only 11 bottles left in the world. It sold Friday night for a record $52,000.  The winning bidders were a married couple from Etobicoke, Ont., who love Scotch but who wanted only their first names revealed: Dave and Laurie.  Proceeds from the auction went to Wounded Warriors, a not-for-profit organization that assists and improves the quality of life of wounded Canadian soldiers and their families.  Dave and his wife decided to bid in the auction because they have close family members who served in the Second World War and wanted to support Canada’s armed forces.  Capt. Wayne Johnston, founder of WoundedWarriors.ca, said he was grateful for the buyers and William Grant & Sons, the owners of the Glenfiddich distillery, which donated the scotch for auction ….”
  • Columnist reminds the system to keep taking care of the troops  “…. Now that Afghanistan is kaput for Canadians, the task of dealing with PTSD “victims” (if that’s the right word) is the responsibility of Veterans Affairs, which these days has to deal with a different sort of wounded soldier than in past wars.  Not all PTSD is the same, but all types can be crippling and all deserve the support that is given to those who have visible, life-altering wounds.  In many case, PTSD is a war wound — and soldiers who are wounded for their country have earned and deserve everything the country can do to repair the damage.  Most would agree with this, but words and deeds don’t always coincide.  Too many of Canada’s wounded feel now that the shooting is over, they are being abandoned. Sometimes, their only protector is media publicity, because that’s what grabs the attention of politicians who make the decisions.”      
  • Four new faces on the Veterans Review and Appeal Board ….  “The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, fulfilled today another pledge to Veterans by announcing four new highly qualified appointments to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB), effective November 19. Three highly qualified reappointments were also announced.  “With these appointments, the Veterans Review and Appeal Board now has among the highest amount of members with military, medical, and police experience in its history,” said Minister Blaney. “The Veterans’ community has specifically asked for the membership of the Board to be composed of more professionals with this kind of experience, and we are delivering.” …. The appointees announced today all hold either Canadian Forces (CF) or medical backgrounds, and between them, they have a combined 72 years of Canadian Forces experience and 35 years of health care experience ….”  Check out the list of new appointees here.
  • …. and one familiar face gone from the VRAB  An outspoken member of a veterans appeal board, who said his privacy was violated and that the federal agency treats ex-soldiers with disrespect, won’t be reappointed.  Harold Leduc and two other members of the troubled agency have been shown the door, and in their places the Harper government has appointed a nurse with extensive experience in addiction treatment and former military officers.  The changes, which normally garner little public attention, were announced Sunday, one day ahead of Leduc’s appearance before the House of Commons veterans affairs committee.  The Parliamentary body is investigating the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, an independent panel where ex-soldiers can challenge benefits decisions by the veterans department.  Leduc’s long-anticipated testimony is expected to give the Opposition plenty ammunition, particularly the NDP, which has introduced a private members bill to scrap the board ….”
  • What else has the VAC Minister been up to?  “The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today concluded successful meetings with German officials, including the Minister of Defence, in Berlin. During the visit, Minister Blaney outlined Canada’s Veterans programs as Germany considers options for the care and support of its Veterans and explores ways to help remember their service and sacrifices. Minister Blaney also expressed Canada’s ongoing interest in working with international partners to advance Veterans issues.  Along with providing the keynote address to the annual reception of the German Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Minister Blaney held discussions with the Chairwoman of the Defence Committee of the German Bundestag, the Chairman of the Association of German Reservists, a representative of the German Armed Forces Association, and the Brigadier-General responsible for the German PTSD program ….”
  • Delisle Spy Case  U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson is revealing for the first time that Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle sold both American and Canadian secrets to RussiaIn comments during an interview to be broadcast on CTV’s Question Period Sunday, Jacobson said Delisle sold confidential U.S. government information as well as Canadian secrets.  “We don’t talk a lot about national security information like this, for obvious reasons,” Jacobson told host Kevin Newman.  “I will say this: he pleaded guilty to selling secrets of the United States and secrets of Canada to the Russians. That is obviously not good. We’ve had these problems in the past and we want to make sure and the Canadians want to make sure that nothing like this is going to happen again.”  When pressed to explain further what U.S. secrets were passed on, Jacobson refused to reveal details.  “Well, I’m not going to get into exactly what he passed. But there was a lot of highly classified material,” Jacobson said ….” – more here.
  • Khadr Boy  You KNEW this was going to happen at some point ….  “Omar Khadr’s $10-million lawsuit against the federal government is likely to pick up momentum now that he’s back in Canada, his lawyer said Monday.  John Norris admits the case, which dates back to 2004 and centres on Khadr’s interrogation by a Canadian official at Guantanamo Bay, has languished for years.  Coincidentally, a case management meeting is scheduled for mid-month and Norris expects things will move quicker now that the main hurdle of getting him back to Canada has been cleared.  “It’s been very much on the back-burner,” he said in an interview Monday. “Now that he’s here it’ll be, I think, moving forward a little bit more perceptively.”  The case relates to information gathered by a Foreign Affairs official who questioned Khadr in Cuba knowing he’d been subjected to sleep deprivation — a technique used to soften detainees. Court records suggest the information was shared with U.S. officials, possibly for use in the case they were building against him.  Initially set at $100,000, the damages were bumped to $10 million in early 2010 after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the government violated Khadr’s charter rights.  The damages sought in the Khadr case are identical to what the government paid Maher Arar after Canadian officials shared faulty intelligence with the U.S. that ultimately led to his arrest at a New York airport and subsequent deportation and incarceration in Syria ….”      
  • Libya  “Exactly one year ago, outside the Libyan city of Sirte, a Canadian who commanded 250 rebel fighters came face to face with Muammar Gaddafi. The dictator had just been pulled from a culvert. His time was up. He was about to die.  But the Canadian had orders: Capture Gaddafi. Don’t kill him. Let others decide his fate later.  “I was about two metres from him. There was already a crowd,” recalls Gourbal Djiddi Nokour, a 36-year-old from Hamilton, Ont. “He was in pyjamas, basically. His wig had fallen off. Men were hitting him. He was begging for mercy and yelling that what they were doing to him was haraam,” the Arabic word for sinful.  The beatings lasted a few minutes. Then someone holding a pistol approached. He fired twice, says Mr. Nokour, speaking to the National Post Friday, from Tripoli. Mr. Nokour’s eyewitness account of Gaddafi’s last moments adds detail and clarity to initial and subsequent reports from Libya.  The first bullet tore into Gaddafi’s head; the second, through his stomach. After a moment of shock, a violent frenzy erupted. Gaddafi’s corpse was grotesquely defiled. A tyrant was dead: Cause for a macabre celebration.  But Mr. Nokour had failed his assignment. On the first anniversary of Gaddafi’s death, the Canadian commander has agreed at last to reveal his involvement.  Gourbal Nokour is not a soldier. He’s a civilian, a graduate of York University near Toronto, where he studied political science. He’s a husband and father. He is under contract to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board, to provide “interpretation services.” For that, he is paid $25,000 a year.  Lately, he hasn’t been in Canada very much ….”
  • Former Canadian MP a guest of the Israelis  “The family of former MP Jim Manly is concerned for his health and safety after the Israeli navy boarded a ship he was on. The ship was apparently headed to the Gaza Strip in an attempt to break Israel’s maritime blockade against the Hamas-controlled region.  Jim, whose 80th birthday is next week, requires daily medication as a result of two bypass surgeries and his son said they hope the Israeli government gives it to him.  “He’s a bit old to be taking a trip like this but he’s a determined advocate for human rights,” said Paul Manly, adding that his father is so passionate about the issue, there was no way the family could have stopped him from taking the trip.  The passengers on the European ship, the Estelle, also included five members of European parliaments, according to those involved in the campaign.  An Israeli military spokesman said that the ship had been seized without incident and taken to the port of Ashdod, in southern Israel, and that those on board would be turned over to the police.  “I know people have been brutalized and people have been killed on these flotillas,” Paul Manly said. He doesn’t think there has been any violence but knows his father wouldn’t sustain it well.  He said his family only found out the ship had been blocked this morning when he received a call from the media for an interview. The only details he has about the condition of the passengers is through the news.  “I’m just sitting here in a black hole with all of this,” he said ….” – more on the fracas via Google News here or here.
  • Ceasefire.ca’s take on Canadian history  “In focusing on wars, the Conservatives are missing out on much of what is important in Canada’s past ….”
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