Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Archive for the ‘The Political Circus’ Category News Highlights – April 9, 2014

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  • Ukraine (1)  Analysis:  Why Russia’s Vladimir Putin confounds the West – Neil Macdonald talks to Putin’s biographer, and to former CIA boss Michael Hayden …. “
  • Ukraine (2)  Editorial“Don’t take Putin’s bait, Ukraine”
  • Ukraine (3)  Academic commentary  “…. what happens if NATO wants to do something about Ukraine?  Would disengaged Canada set aside or would enraged Harper/Baird jump in?  If this was someplace else (Syria?), I would say the former, but the political relevance of Ukraine for Canada might just tip the balance.  As a social scientist, I am kind of thrilled to see the natural experiment play out.  As a person who does not want World War III over Ukraine, I am just a bit nervous ….”
  • The Canadian Armed Forces is considering an incentive program to go along with its new fitness test.  The Fitness for Operational Requirement for Canadian Armed Forces Employment (FORCE) program was launched last year and after a transition period it is now the official physical fitness test for military personnel, replacing the 30-year-old CF EXPRES test.  The FORCE test consists of four different phases based on basic tasks military members are expected to be able to do. The standard to pass is the same for all members, no matter age, gender or trade, and the test has to be completed annually.  As of March 2014, more than 67,000 Canadian Forces members had completed the new test. The failure rate is 5.5 to six per cent, while the old fitness test had a failure rate of 2.5 per cent.  According to documents CBC obtained through the Access to Information Act, in order to encourage members to not just pass the course but to maintain a high level of fitness, an incentive program is being considered to go along with the new test ….”
  • More messaging on vets in the House of Commons from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs  “Mr. Speaker, our government has a strong record when it comes to standing up for Canada’s veterans.  Our government has voluntarily increased monthly financial benefits to veterans across Canada. More than 5,000 veterans will benefit from these important changes, which include more money each month in addition to more veterans being eligible for home-cleaning and grass-cutting services, and in addition, there is more money for medical, rehabilitation, and retraining programs.  What is more disappointing is the opposition. The NDP and the Liberals have voted against every single initiative we have brought forward …. that member knows full well that the courts did not impose anything on Veterans Affairs on their programs. Our government voluntarily increased benefits for veterans receiving earnings loss, Canadian Forces income support, and the war veterans allowance.  This means thousands of dollars for veterans in addition to added benefits, such as snow removal, lawn care, home-cleaning services, and lower costs for long-term care.  I would encourage the opposition members to support the government, get on board, and help Canada’s veterans.”
  • A bit of commentary in the House from the Tory MP for Pembroke  “Mr. Speaker, on the eve of Vimy Ridge, a battle that marked the birth of our proud and modern Canada, it has been nearly 365 days since the inflammatory comments made by the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie came to light in the House. He praised communists and remarked that World War I was purely a capitalist war on the backs of workers and peasants. It is shameful that the leader of the NDP has not only maintained silence on the member’s take on communists and capitalist war but, in fact, named him the co-chair of the NDP’s 2015 national campaign ….”
  • A Canadian Forces major is taking the federal government to court next week in Halifax for what he says is its refusal to follow its own policy on military family relocation.  Maj. Marcus Brauer has spent the last four years battling the federal government. He moved with his family in May 2010 after he was transferred from Edmonton to CFB Halifax.  He said the relocation has brought his family close to financial ruin ….”
  • Way Up North (1)  From the CAF Info-machine  “Vast tundra, mountains of ice, temperatures as low as -60°C, days without sunlight and nights without darkness – the Canadian Arctic has it all, and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have seen it all.  The Canadian Armed Forces are active in the North 24/7, exercising sovereignty and exercising its capabilities to respond to any challenges that may arise. Military exercises and operations are common in the Canadian Arctic. In February and March alone, CAF members honed their Arctic skill sets in Exercises ARCTIC RAM, TRILLIUM RESPONSE and SABRE GLACE.  The summer months bring additional opportunities to train in the Arctic through a variety of operations. Much of the coordination for these northern operations comes from Joint Task Force (North) (JTFN), the CAF formation tasked with exercising Canada’s sovereignty and contributing to safety and security in the Canadian North ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  From the Pentagon Info-machine  “Nearly 40 Airmen and two LC-130 ski-equipped aircraft from the 109th Airlift Wing will be demonstrating their vast capabilities on the Arctic ice as they join the Canadian Forces on Friday, April 11 to participate in Canada’s annual Operation Nunalivut Exercise.  Canada’s Joint Task Force-North has been conducting this exercise in and around the area of Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada, since 2007. This will be the first year the 109th will participate ….”
  • A former Edmonton soldier who lured young boys on the Internet and used a webcam to engage in online sex acts with some of them was sent to prison WednesdayMatthew Richervezeau, 24, was handed an eight-year prison term after earlier pleading guilty to 48 various charges, including Internet child luring, invitation to sexual touching, indecent exposure, sexual interference and possession of child pornography.  Richervezeau was also ordered to submit a DNA sample for the national DNA databank, placed on the national sex offender registry for life and banned from going to any place where children might congregate, also for life ….”
  • Canadian War Museum gala raises over $200,000 for Operation Veteran’s Supply Line and The Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Trust Fund ….”
  • She strikes a mournful, solitary pose on the crest of a French ridge once soaked in Canadian blood — an image one prominent former soldier says should be a daily reminder to parliamentarians that their decisions have consequences.  Sen. Romeo Dallaire has been quietly lobbying the federal government to construct a replica of the monument known as Mother Canada, located on the eastern side of the Vimy Ridge memorial perched atop the famous battlefield in France.  Dallaire wants to see the new statue erected in Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, Que., directly across the river from Parliament Hill and within sight of the offices of MPs and senators who would decide where and when to deploy troops in the future ….”
  • Minister of Veterans Affairs Op-ed  “On a cold April day at Vimy Ridge”
  • From the Veterans Affairs minister’s office  On the occasion of the 97th anniversary of the Battle of Arras and the Capture of Vimy Ridge, Canadian and French citizens gathered today at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, in France, to commemorate the Canadian soldiers who fought so valiantly at Vimy Ridge during the First World WarThe Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, addressed French and Canadian officials, Veterans and others in attendance. He paid tribute to the Canadian Corps, whose four full divisions fought side by side for the first time during the four-day battle, and honoured the memory of all the brave men and women who served during the First World War ….”
  • Back in Ottawa  “On the occasion of the 97th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Canadians gathered today at LeBreton Flats, in front of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, to commemorate the Canadian soldiers who fought so valiantly at Vimy Ridge during the First World WarThe ceremony included the laying of wreaths by officials including Mr. Parm Gill, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs. Minister Fantino attended a ceremony in Vimy, France, to commemorate Canadian soldiers who fought and died during the First World War ….”

Written by milnewsca

9 April 14 at 22:00 News Highlights – April 4, 2014

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Written by milnewsca

21 February 14 at 18:00 News Highlights – February 20, 2014

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  • Please do what you can to spread the message that folks who are having a tough time don’t have to suffer alone – #sendupthecount – more here on Facebook and here at (Disclosure:  I’m a moderator at
  • A candlelight ceremony in memory of Canadian soldiers lost to suicide is coming to the war memorial cenotaph in Tilbury (near Windsor) this FridayThe event, planned by the non-profit organization Honour Our Canadian Soldiers, seeks to raise awareness and end the taboo surrounding suicides in the military.  “The ceremony is to provide moral support to families and show the respect and pride we have for all our Canadian soldiers,”  says spokesperson Jason Mullis.  “We also want to end the taboo surrounding those who lose their battle with post-traumatic stress disorder.” ….”
  • Roger Pothier has four poppies tattooed on his right arm to mark the military comrades he’s lost to suicide.  A 25-year military veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, Pothier was one of about 150 people — many of them vets or family members of vets — who gathered Tuesday night at a Dartmouth Sportsplex community room to discuss the challenges military personnel, their families and veterans face as they try to access support services.  Pothier, who did deployments to Somalia, Cyprus, Europe and Southwest Asia in support of the Afghanistan mission, said he was inspired to speak out after hearing so many stories about people struggling. He said he felt a lack of support when he left the military in 2008, as well as at various points during his service career.  He’s not the only one ….”
  • “Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Kingston and Glace Bay departed Halifax earlier this week for the Caribbean Sea to support Operation CARIBBE, Canada’s contribution to the multinational campaign against illicit trafficking by transnational criminal organizations in the Americas and Caribbean ….”
  • Ooopsie ….  “Canadian military police have arrested two members of the Canadian Forces based in Petawawa, Ont., for alleged inappropriate Facebook activityThe Department of National Defence said military police started to investigate allegations of “defamation and inappropriate comments” on a Facebook page titled “Cpl Bloggins” in early January.   Charges were laid against two members on Jan. 22, the department added.  “They were arrested for defamatory libel under the National Defence Act pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada and use of improper comments under the Military Code of Service Discipline,” the department said. “The identity of the two CAF members arrested is protected under the Privacy Act.”  DND said military police also launched a new, separate investigation earlier this month after receiving “a subsequent complaint of alleged defamation and inappropriate comments posted on another Facebook page, also titled ‘Cpl Bloggins.’”  Some online users have complained the Facebook page is a space for homophobic and sexist content ….” - more here, here and here
  • Way Up North  From the Army Info-machine (about two weeks later)  Residents of the Chaudière-Appalaches region of Quebec welcomed roughly 2500 soldiers for a week of winter warfare training.  Hundreds of residents flocked to observe a showcase of Army equipment being used for the exercise during the weekend of February 1st and 2nd.  “They were very happy to see the military in their region and were very hospitable. They came to see us, ask questions and they even offered coffee,” described Master Corporal Guillaume Poulin, A Company 3rd Battalion the Royal 22nd Regiment.  Exercise RAFALE BLANCHE 2014 took place in several municipalities including Beauce-Sartigan, La Nouvelle-Beauce, Les Appalaches, Les Etchemins, Lotbinière and Robert-Cliche from January 28 to February 5 ….”
  • Message from Rear Admiral John Newton, Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic“It is my great pleasure to welcome the Berlin-class replenishment ship FGS Bonn to Halifax for a seven-day visit in Canada beginning Wednesday, February 19, 2014 ….” “
  • From the RCAF Info-machine (about five months later)  “For the third year in a row, Captain Ken Barling, a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, won the Queen’s Medal for Champion Shot for the Regular Force. He won this prestigious award at the Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration (CAFSAC) which was held from September 7 to 22, 2013, at the Connaught Ranges and Primary Training Centre in Ottawa, Ontario ….”
  • Interesting story of one Reservist  “He’s a sergeant by day and a corporal by night.  And whoever coined the American Army’s  “”Be All You Can Be””, obviously met Canadian Sergeant Dave Strachan.  One of a handful of soldiers who was in two foreign forces prior to joining the Canadian Army, Sgt Strachan serves the people of Canada in a dual capacity: As a patrol sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and as a corporal in Vancouver’s Seaforth Highlanders.  In his long, varied and eventful military career, he has soldiered in the most extreme conditions from the Brazilian rainforests, the arctic conditions of the Falkland Islands, on rock-pelted streets of west Belfast and the savannahs of central Africa. Sgt Strachan has lived the lives of several soldiers and could pass into the annals of military history as a soldier of fortune ….”
  • Britain’s top military commander says leaner defence budgets are here to stay and allied nations will likely find themselves sharing resources in ways they may not have done in the pastMuch like his Canadian counterpart, Gen. Sir Nick Houghton has been grappling with drastic budget cuts that will see the size of the British regular force reduced by 20,000 members over the next six years.  Most of the cuts will affect the army, but the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force will also feel the pain. At the same time, Britain will increase the size of its reserves.  The Harper government’s most recent budget left the Canadian military’s bottom line alone, but shifted $3.1 billion of capital spending off to sometime in the future. National Defence has already been through recent cuts that took upwards of $2.1 billion out of an annual $20-billion appropriation.  At the moment, Canada has not moved to cut the size of either its regular or reserve force.  The Pentagon, too, has faced cuts through sequestration when U.S. lawmakers failed to agree on how to tackle Washington’s tide of red ink.  “I sense that austerity will be an enduring factor, not just a passing one,” Houghton told The Canadian Press in an interview Thursday during the Conference of Defence Associations annual forum in Ottawa ….”
  • The Generals’ Moving Expenses  Why not drag the kids into it, too“The Ottawa real estate firm that handled the taxpayer-funded sale of retired general Andrew Leslie’s Rockcliffe home hired his daughter as a real estate agent three weeks after the deal concluded.  Erica Leslie, a former Canadian Forces member who served in Afghanistan, like her father, now works as a sales representative for Marilyn Wilson’s Dream Properties Inc., an agency that specializes in high-end home sales.  Wilson’s firm handled the sale of the Juliana Road home that Leslie and his wife Karen lived in at the end of his career, before they moved into a smaller home a five-minute drive away ….”
  • Commentary  “…. what we have witnessed — despite the soothing, exculpatory rhetoric from the merry-go-round of ministers nominally responsible for Canadian Security Intelligence Service and its sister intelligence service, Communications Security Establishment Canada — is the predictable coalescing of the powers-that-be to shield these agencies from any real measure of accountability.  What’s been exposed, yet again, is that the so-called “oversight bodies” charged with ensuring that Canada’s intelligence agencies follow the law have long constituted a cynical sham ….”
  • Federal Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander used a ceremony in Calgary to tout his government’s plans to tighten rules for those who want to become Canadians and to strip citizenship from dual nationals who engage in terrorismAlexander told 51 new Canadians the first overhaul of the Citizenship Act in 36 years is meant to strengthen the value of a Canadian passport and to improve the efficiency of how citizenship is acquired.  He said the new rules will clamp down on what he called Canadians of convenience by making it harder to obtain citizenship.  Permanent residents will have to maintain a physical presence in Canada for four out of six years before applying for citizenship, compared with the previous requirement of three out of four years.  Alexander said permanent residents who are members of the Canadian Armed Forces will have a fast track to citizenship.  As well, citizenship will be revoked from dual nationals who are members of groups engaged in an armed conflict with Canada or convicted of terrorism, high treason or spying ….”
  • “Jordan Chiasson bought an old military helmet in an army surplus store in Moncton, N.B., for $30 last August, but only recently discovered the name GW Johnston and a number scratched into the inside of it, so he set out to find the owner.  “The fact that he cared enough about it to write his stuff inside — his name and the ID number — it wasn’t mine to keep,” said Chiasson. “If he cared so much he wrote his own info inside, it was up to a matter of time.”  Chiasson, 21, contacted Royal Canadian Legion Command in Saint John and the Canadian War Museum. He was led to Pte. George Johnston, a member of the North Shore Regiment in the Second World War.  This week, after a three-day search, the soldier and his helmet were reunited for the first time in 70 years when Chiasson took it to Johnston and his wife, Annie, at their home in Norton, N.B. ….” News Highlights – February 19, 2014

leave a comment » News Highlights – February 18, 2014

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  • Please do what you can to spread the message that folks who are having a tough time don’t have to suffer alone – #sendupthecount – more here on Facebook and here at (Disclosure:  I’m a moderator at
  • Conference of Defence Associations Institute issues “2014-Strategic Outlook for Canada” 
  • “Bruce Moncur was seriously injured in Afghanistan in 2006 and credits the Veterans Affairs office in Windsor for helping him get his life back. Since Ottawa just closed that office, he now has to drive several hours to visit the nearest office — in London ….”
  • “The war chest has been hauled up from the basement, ready to be used to help defeat the federal Conservative government, say (Nova Scotia) war veterans.  “The plan is to build a war chest so we can have money to do the things we need to do to make sure this government falls,” said Ron Clarke, a veteran who spearheaded the now-failed campaign to keep Sydney’s Veterans Affairs office open.  Clarke, a 36-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, told members of the province’s standing committee on veterans affairs in Sydney on Monday that vets across the country believe now is the time for action.  “What we’re going to try to do is create a veterans war chest in each of the provinces … and when this is over, any money left over will go into veterans organizations, like the legions or something else,” he said following his submission to the committee ….”
  • “The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, will join Michael Kaan, Manager, Operational Stress Injury Clinic, Deer Lodge Centre, to make an important announcement (tomorrow) about improving services to Veterans with mental health issues and their families in Winnipeg ….”
  • The Generals’ Moving Expenses (1)  Interested in seeing “the list”?  Try here or here
  • The Generals’ Moving Expenses (2)  Trudeau’s response” Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau defended retired general Andrew Leslie on Tuesday, saying the former military leader is the target of a “pure partisan” attack because of his moving expenses.  Trudeau and other Liberals are saying that Leslie’s connection to their party is behind a smear campaign over $72,000 in expenses the former general claimed for a move from his Ottawa home to another residence in the city shortly after he retired.  “I find this deplorable,” Trudeau told reporters in Quebec ….”
  • The Generals’ Moving Expenses (3)  Good question  “DND moving expenses: A cheap political attack or reason for concern?”
  • The Generals’ Moving Expenses (4)  Commentary  “…. In the fall of 2006, the Auditor General presented a detailed report on the program, complete with a list of recommendations, which the government broadly accepted. It’s a significant file that you might expect a defence minister to have no trouble getting briefed up on: Back in 2005, the year the AG examined, it handled about 15,000 military and RCMP relocations and cost about $272 million …. The AG’s 2006 report dealt largely with the bidding process for real estate firms that compete to run the relocation service. Those details don’t have anything to do with the Leslie story. But the timing is relevant. This program was, after all, the subject of close attention in 2007, when the government committed to seriously review key elements of it as a result of the AG’s findings. That’s not the distant past. So (Defence Minister Rob) Nicholson shouldn’t have any difficulty summoning senior officials to give him a very up-to-date appraisal ….”
  • The Generals’ Moving Expenses (5)  Guess who’s taking another look at the program“…. In the past few days, questions have been raised as to why the government paid a nearly $40,000 bill to move a disgraced former brigadier-general to the United Arab Emirates. Nor has there been a public accounting of $47,000 in moving expenses for three officers who went from a military camp in Afghanistan to Ottawa, Kingston, Ont., and Halifax. Also, former lieutenant-general and star Liberal candidate Andrew Leslie’s $72,000 moving bill for going from one house in Ottawa to another house in Ottawa has come to light, a development Leslie attributes to a smear campaign.  The auditor general will review the department’s relocation costs in a pair of reports to be released this spring and fall.  Specifically, the reports will be looking at the procurement and provision of services in the $148,371,000 contract the Harper government gave in 2009 to Brookfield Global Relocation Services (formerly Royal LePage Global Services) to deliver the Integrated Global Relocation Program ….”
  • The Generals’ Moving Expenses (6)  Commentary  “…. Leslie has never been a friend of the current government; he is its sworn enemy today. He should expect unfriendly scrutiny. And even though the Conservatives have become just as adept at hiding defence cuts as the Liberals — and despite the high comic-tragedy act of offering veterans more money for funerals in last week’s budget — Stephen Harper and the Conservatives still have more moral authority within Canada’s military than Justin Trudeau will ever possess — with or without Leslie by his side.”
  • The Generals’ Moving Expenses (7)  Commentary  “Rob Nicholson, the defence minister, clearly thinks that attacking a retired general over his moving expenses, in order to undermine his new role as an adviser to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, is a priority and efficient use of his time ….” – more here
  • Afghanistan  In addition to his other recent eye-catching activities, retired General Menard remains a “guest” of the Afghans  “A retired former Canadian general who was removed from command in Afghanistan after he was caught having sex with a subordinate remains in jail in that country facing charges of gun smuggling.  Daniel Menard’s employer, the Canadian security company GardaWorld in a statement to CBC News confirmed their employee was still in prison – even though the company had been told two weeks ago that he would soon be released.  “We had understood Mr. Menard’s release to be imminent. We are continuing to work with the Afghan authorities to resolve the matter and secure Dan’s release as soon as possible,” GardaWorld spokesman Joe Gavaghan told CBC News ….”
  • Way Up North  “Twenty years ago on February 15, the first Canadian Ranger patrol in Ontario was formed in Moose Factory, Ontario. In recognition of this milestone, the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (3 CRPG) conducted their longest surveillance patrol from the Manitoba-Ontario border to Cochrane and back.  “This was the longest surveillance patrol both in distance and time in the history of the 3 CRPG,” said Captain Mark Rittwage, officer commanding the Ranger company. “The Rangers travelled 2,100 kilometres over seven days in some of the most demanding conditions and should be proud of their accomplishment.” ….”
  • From the RCAF Info-machine  “Situated in the heart of Vancouver Island’s scenic Comox Valley, 19 Wing is Canada’s only Royal Canadian Air Force base in British Columbia.  The airfield at Comox was opened as a Royal Air Force base in 1942 to guard against possible Japanese attack on North America. After operating for a year as a Royal Air Force (RAF) station, it was placed under the control of the Royal Canadian Air Force on May 1, 1943 ….”
  • Meanwhile, west coast worries about military cuts  “…. Our region counts on the military to provide a boost to the local economy. Any reductions in discretionary spending by the navy, the army reserve unit based at Bay Street Armoury and the air force helicopter squadron at Victoria International Airport could have a significant effect on Capital Region businesses.  We worry that the remaining technical upgrades on our naval frigates – work being done by Victoria Shipyards – might be in jeopardy. We also wonder whether our frigates will make fewer trips abroad, for which they need initial provisioning locally.  Similarly, our Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels, six of which are stationed at Esquimalt, could potentially be deployed less, meaning decreased part-time wages for local naval reservists.  The trickle-down economic effect may take time to materialize in Greater Victoria, but we shouldn’t be surprised if it comes to pass ….”
  • From the RC Navy Info-machine (~two weeks later)  “The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and the United State Navy (USN) recently completed a collaborative exercise where each nation’s sailors and air force personnel honed their anti-submarine warfare skills during Exercise Atlantic Shield off the eastern seaboard.  Held from January 26 to 29, 2014, Atlantic Shield was a complex exercise that brought together headquarters’ staff, submarines, warships and aircraft from both the RCN and US Fleet Forces to search for and track an unidentified submarine threat ….”
  • The following is a summary of the CDA Institute roundtable on the subject of “The ‘New’ Insider Threat: Why Ed Snowden Matters,” presented by Ray Boisvert, former assistant director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS), held in Ottawa on 6 February 2014. These roundtable discussions are held under the Chatham House Rule ….”

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