Posts Tagged ‘Bob Rae’
- Cliché team, UP! “The new commander of Canada’s battle group in Kandahar will have an iron fist, but hopes to use a velvet touch with the war-weary population of this embattled province. Lt.-Col. Michel-Henri St-Louis, who is in charge of the 1st Battalion Royal 22e Regiment combat team, officially took charge Saturday and will carry the baton through to the end of the country’s combat mission in July ….” More from United Press International here.
- Uh, thanks mom – NOT! “The mother of a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan picketed outside Liberal MP Bob Rae’s office on Saturday to urge the federal Conservative government to bring the troops home next year. Josie Forcadilla is upset about the extension of a Canadian military presence in Afghanistan until 2014. The government announced this month that a contingent of troops will remain to train Afghan troops after the combat mission ends in July 2011. “Whether the mission is combat or non-combat, the soldiers will still be at risk,” she said, noting some of the 153 Canadian soldiers who have died in support of the Afghan mission were trainers. Forcadilla, 54, was among roughly a dozen people protesting outside Rae’s constituency office Saturday afternoon ….” Not the first time she’s been at it, either.
- Postmedia’s Matthew Fisher shares this story about an Afghan-Canadian going back to the old country to make a difference: “An Afghan-Canadian doctor has taken a drastic cut in pay to return to his homeland and open Afghanistan’s first heart clinic. “I feel that the nicest people in the world are Canadians, but I felt a duty to return to my homeland,” said Asmat Naebkhill, the director of the Alli Abad Cardiac Research Centre in Kabul. “I was not comfortable in Canada knowing how my people were suffering.” Naebkhill was living in Windsor, Ont., before relocating to Kabul ….”
- Anti-war British MP George Galloway brings his message to Canada (note to George: “Afghani” is the currency, “Afghans” is what you call the people): “Canada’s mission in Afghanistan has been “doomed from the start,” controversial British politician George Galloway told an Ottawa crowd Saturday. “Does no one in Canada ever ask why the Afghanis need so much training? We have been training them for 10 years. No one is training the Taliban and they’re doing quite well,” said Galloway, a former British MP, who was refused entry by the Canada Border Services Agency in 2009 because he reportedly donated money to the Hamas-led Palestinian government …. The decision to refuse Galloway entry was recently overturned in a Federal Court decision critical of the government. “Until this matter is resolved, I will be coming back again and again and again,” Galloway told his 900 listeners. As he had in other stops on the 10-city Canadian tour, Galloway blasted Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, saying he is initiating legal proceeding against Kenney and would give any compensation awarded to the Canadian antiwar movement ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan.
- New Veterans Ombudsman: Not Your Old Veterans Ombudsman?
- Former newspaper magnate Conrad Black is throwing out his ideas on what the Canadian military should be looking like now, and down the road, via Postmedia News: “…. The appropriate defence policy for Canada now would be to increase the forces by at least 75,000 (the Canadian Forces’ current strength is 67,000, plus 26,000 reservists) — a doubling of its size. Such a plan sounds radical, but in fact it would merely bring our per-capita spending up to the level of more militarily capable NATO countries. This increase in personnel could be deducted, directly or indirectly, from the ranks of the unemployed. Sensible use of these forces would confer greater stature on Canada than our recent failure to win a Security Council seat suggests we now enjoy. The most effective economic stimulus is advanced military-based research, and this should be pursued, especially in aerospace and shipbuilding. Stephen Harper is defence-friendly, and Peter Mackay is an excellent defence minister. They could sell such a program on economic grounds, as well as it being an indication of Canada assuming its rightful place in the world. I understand budgetary restraint, but constructive nationalism and economic largesse are not hard political, or in this case, policy, sells.”
- A Canadian military briefing note for the Minister has come to light saying “If war breaks out on the Korean peninsula, Canada could become embroiled due to a half-century-old United Nations military alliance …. The note by the Defence Department’s policy branch, which was obtained by The Canadian Press, says the UN alliance could be used to generate an international fighting force if war erupts …. Because Canada was one of the combatants in the Korean War, it became part of an organization known as the United Nations Command — or UNC — following the 1953 armistice that ended three years of war between North and South Korea ….” No word from the CF or politicians, but at least one political scientist says it’s not bloody likely: ” “It’s a technical legal question, rather than a political question, not an automatic reprise of 1950-53,” said Paul Evans, the director of the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia. “The technical legal side is that Canada is a part of the commission. But it does not commit Canada or the UN — we’re not locked into any role in the event that hostilities resume.” “
- An officer, while on leave in Canada from a deployment to Afghanistan, died of natural causes. He was awarded the Sacrifice Medal. His name was added to the Book of Remembrance. His family was presented with the Memorial Cross. Now, Captain Francis (Frank) Cecil Paul is on the official list of those fallen: “Following a review of the Canadian Forces’ casualty policy, the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk, today announced his decision to add the name of Captain Francis (Frank) Cecil Paul to the official list of Canadian Forces (CF) casualties sustained in support of the mission in Afghanistan. Capt Paul died in Canada last February while on leave from Kandahar. “Although his death came suddenly while on leave from his deployment in Afghanistan, he was still on duty and considered part of the mission, and therefore his death is no less important than any other CF member who served and died while in Afghanistan,” said Gen Natynczyk. “It is important that his name be added to the list of fallen.” …. Capt Paul’s photo has been placed on the CF’s Fallen Canadians web site and a minute of silence will be observed throughout Department of National Defence and CF facilities in the National Capital Region on Monday, November 29 ….”
- If quoted correctly, the outgoing boss of Canada’s mentor-trainers in Afghanistan sounds optimistic: “The outgoing commander of Canada’s mentoring team in Kandahar says the Taliban have been routed and won’t present a significant threat in the future. Col. Ian Creighton, who was in charge of the operational mentor liaison team _ or OMLT _ says the lull in violence across southern Afghanistan over the last few weeks has nothing to do with onset of colder weather, as in previous years. “This is not just a winter thing where some guys have gone back to Pakistan. They have been defeated on the battlefield,” he said Friday shortly after handing command to his replacement, Col. Hercule Gosselin …. Still, Creighton wasn’t reluctant to use an unambiguous word not often spoken here: “Victory” ….” I really, really hope he’s right – such certainty can always return to haunt one.
- If you’re an Afghan working for Canada on contract in the “sandbox”, and you’ve been on contact for almost 3 years, it appears you’re about to lose your job. This from Postmedia News: “The lives of Canadian soldiers could be put at greater risk because of Treasury Board regulations that prevent Task Force Kandahar from continuing to employ its best cultural advisers. About half a dozen of Canada’s top advisers, who are ethnic Afghans with Canadian citizenship, have been told that they cannot be rehired when their current contracts expire. They are being let go because of government rules that state that if they work for more than three years for any federal department they must be offered permanent employment in the public service ….”
- A reminder to journalists who want to talk about how “hard” they are for their embedded work in Afghanistan compared to politicians who had it softer: the politician may have had it softer, but keep in mind men and women stayed there and get shot at after you left too. There’s ALWAYS someone harder than you. Not being hard myself, I’m guessing those that really are don’t complain much, especially in public.
- No, this hasn’t gone away. “The inquiry by the Military Police Complaints Commission into whether military police failed to investigate if commanders illegally ordered the transfer of detainees to a known risk of torture in Afghanistan will hear the final witnesses next week. The hearings are based on complaints that were filed by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and Amnesty International Canada in 2007 and 2008. Since the filing of the complaints, startling information about the conditions prisoners faced and the Canadian Forces’ failure to investigate the legality of the transfers has been made public ….”
- Blog Watch: More kudos for Liberal Bob Rae for his nuanced and intelligent debate on the Afghanistan mission. More on that here, too.
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul. Also, a writer-analyst living in Kandahar has spotted a statement made by a former Taliban envoy to Pakistan saying Osama Bin Laden lied to the Taliban when asked directly if he was responsible for 9/11. A way for the Afghan Taliban to distance themselves from OBL and become less nasty looking? Time will tell, but an interesting thing to say out loud, nonetheless.
- Agent Orange compensation for those exposed while spraying at CF bases? One dollar out of every three earmarked for compensation is going back to general revenue: “The Harper government has returned more than $33 million set aside to compensate veterans exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange to government coffers after many veterans failed to meet its strict qualifications for payments. Liberal Senator Percy Downe said the veterans didn’t qualify because compensation was narrowly limited to those affected by the chemical spraying at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown between 1966 and 1967. As a result, about one-third of the $96 million earmarked by the government for compensation was never paid out and has been returned to the Consolidated Revenue Fund ….”
- Column: Killer-rapist Russell Williams kit burning as “excorcism”
- Canada’s (No Longer Nameless) Navy Mascot Update: First was the tender process for the costume/character (with caveats in the Statement of Work like “His personality will be that of an average young boy of no particular age. He will be clean living, fun loving, bashful around girls, polite, brave and clever. He will not be a clown, nor silly or dumb.”) Then, the contest to find the mascot, a Labrador poochie, a name. Now, at long last, the Navy mascot has a name. Welcome to the CF family, SONAR!
- Watching the Grey Cup? Watch for these guys flying by.
After Liberal Bob Rae says, out loud, it might be worth keeping more than just a CF military attache in Afghanistan post-2011, we hear from one of his senatorial colleagues, Hugh Segal – this via Hansard, following the visit of the Special Committee to Afghanistan:
Members of Parliament Kevin Sorenson, Byron Wilfert, Jim Abbott, Claude Bachand, Bob Dechert, Jack Harris, Laurie Hawn, Deepak Obhrai, Bob Rae and Pascal-Pierre Paillé, who made the trip, deserve our appreciation and gratitude, as do those who facilitated their movements on both the military and civilian sides.
When I rose in this place on March 30 to express hope that there would be a full parliamentary debate on next steps in Afghanistan after 2011 and my strong view that, whatever the configuration of the post-2011 Canadian contingent, Canadian Armed Forces be part of that presence, I was hopeful that our colleagues in the other place would have a chance to see the context for themselves.
There is now an opportunity for a full parliamentary debate in both chambers — not a narrow partisan debate, but a broad, multi-partisan, national interest debate — where proposals for the mix of forces and civilians deployed to Afghanistan can be openly and frankly discussed ….
Prime Minister Stephen Harper may represent the biggest stumbling block to such a deal. He has repeatedly stated that all Canadian soldiers would leave Afghanistan next year.
Still we wait for an end to the hints, innuendo and rumours.
Canada’s Post-2011 Mission in AFG: The Official Message Still Stands, and On Training “Inside the Wire”
Item: The latest expression of the “official” position of the government on what we’re doing in Afghanistan post-2011, notwithstanding some message teasing from the PM, from Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) during Question Period Friday:
There is absolutely no confusion on this side of the House about our position in Afghanistan. We have made it eminently clear that this government will respect the parliamentary resolution of 2008 and cease our military mission to Afghanistan in 2011. It will become a civilian and a development mission …. For the past several months, despite foot dragging by members of the Afghan committee, we have been putting forward motions to consider the post-2011 mission in Afghanistan. We urge opposition members of the committee to participate and to forward their suggestions to Parliament.
On that bit in red: have I missed something? What “motions” have the government put forward to consider re: the post-2011 mission in Afghanistan? Have I been in a cave? Or did things come up that were drowned out/swamped by that other thing the Committee was doing instead of considering the future mission? If you’re reading this, and can share a link or any proof of any such offer via the comments, go for it.
Item: The CF’s mission at this point remains clear: keep packing – this from the Chief of Defence Staff via CBC.ca:
“We have got very clear instructions from the government of Canada to move out on the withdrawal and that is what we’re going to continue to plan on.”
What this story doesn’t include is an interesting point in the CDS’s description of his task. CTV.ca’s story on the same issue quotes General Natynczyk talking about the March 2008 Parliamentary motion:
“From the Government of Canada through to the minister to me, it’s clearly a focus on enabling the motion as it stands today and that is the withdrawal from Kandahar in 2011 and the end of the military mission,” Natynczyk told reporters in Ottawa.
Compare and contrast this to Peter Kent’s statement in the House of Commons:
This government will respect the parliamentary resolution of 2008 and cease our military mission to Afghanistan in 2011.
General Natynczyk also mentioned who’s going to be staying (via CanWest/National Post):
He noted the institutions that will continue a non-military mission for Canada in Afghanistan include Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian International Development Agency, the RCMP and the correctional services.
Item: I’m all for keeping a Canadian military element behind to keep helping out, even with training. That said, former OMLT-eer Bruce R at the Flit blog reminds us that training “inside the wire” may not be easy, and has its hazards:
Afghan police and soldiers are trained on their own bases, obviously, but those are not “inside” coalition military facilities in any real sense. Afghans of any kind aren’t normally allowed free run of ISAF military facilities, so the two have to remain physically distinct. So really what you’re talking about is “inside the Afghan wire,” at least part of the time: in other words, either cohabiting with Afghans, or failing that, “commuting” from a nearby ISAF base.
Which can be fine, of course, given some sensible precautions: I always felt quite safe in those sorts of situations. But in this context it might be worth noting today’s news from Afghanistan.
…an American contractor died in a suicide attack against the police training center in Kandahar city, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said… The American contractor, who was not identified, and another person were killed when a team of three suicide bombers attacked the gates of the police training center….
I guess this still means we’re going, yes?
What a difference seeing what’s happening at the business end of a war can make. This from Liberal members of the committee that’s supposed to be looking into Canada’s future mission in Afghanistan, following a visit to Afghanistan:
“We have an obligation to see this thing through,” opposition Liberal MP Bob Rae said at the end of a five-day fact-finding mission to Kandahar and Kabul by the Commons Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan. “The door is open to serious discussion in Canada and between Canada and NATO about what the future looks like,” he said.
And what does the PM have to say about this? This from the Canadian Press:
“I note those words with some interest,” Harper told a news conference, in English. He later added, in French: “I took note of the statement. It’s interesting.”
Still, he said, Canada’s position hasn’t changed.
”I think we’ve been very clear,” Harper said.
“We’re working according to the parliamentary resolution that was adopted in 2008, by which Canada’s military mission will end and will transition to a civilian and development mission at the end of 2011.”
Mark over at The Torch hits the nail on the head about the last bit:
He’s not telling the truth
Remember the 2008 Parliamentary motion? It says we’re leaving KANDAHAR, not AFGHANISTAN.
If we’re going to go, why throw in tidbits like?
“I note those words with some interest,” Harper told a news conference, in English. He later added, in French: “I took note of the statement. It’s interesting.”
If we’re staying, someone please say out loud that we’re staying.
If we’re going, someone please say out loud that we’re going.
If we’re still sorting out exactly what to do, someone please say that we’re sorting out exactly what to do.
I know the details of Canada’s post-2011 mission are still being sorted out.
Mixed messaging by Ministers of the Crown during Question Period (QP), the most public (and probably least representative) portion of House of Commons business, doesn’t help, though.
This from Hansard during QP 8 Oct 09 (highlights mine):
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. There is some confusion on the government’s position with respect to the military mission in Afghanistan post-2011. For the second time in as many weeks the Minister of National Defence has talked about this. I would like to get the minister again on record. I tried to get him last week on this question. Could the minister confirm that the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan will be over in 2011, yes or no?
Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it seems the only person who is confused is the hon. member on the other side of the House. Let me be perfectly clear. Canada will end its military mission in 2011. Do I have to repeat it to him in French?
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am not the one he needs to repeat it to. He needs to repeat it to his colleague, the Minister of National Defence. The problem is that when he speaks in committee or elsewhere, he says the exact opposite, and that is important. I will ask the minister the question again. How will the government ensure that the House of Commons is consulted before any changes are made to the military mission in Afghanistan?
Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, let me quote the hon. member who said, this week, in the House:
I do not believe that Canada’s commitment to Afghanistan can, in any way, shape or form, end in 2011. I do not believe our commitment to the region can end in 2011.
Then he went on to talk about development.
Our position is clear. The military combat mission will end in 2011.
Funny what a difference that one word “combat” can make…
This exchange, from yesterday’s Question Period in the House of Commons, further feeds the “what happens post-2011 in Afghanistan?” sausage machine – highlights in red mine:
“Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Foreign Affairs about Afghanistan. The motion that we passed in the House was very unambiguous and very clear with respect to Canadian troops being redeployed out of Kandahar by December 2011. Certain comments have been made by other ministers and by other candidates for the Conservative Party with respect to the intentions of the Conservative Party post-2011.
My question for the Minister of Foreign Affairs is about Canada’s presence in Afghanistan. Is he sticking to the motion that was passed by the House in March 2008?
Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I will say this clearly and succinctly so that the member will understand. Yes, we are sticking to that motion. Yes, the Minister of National Defence answered that question previously with the same response that we always give. We are putting an end to our military combat mission by 2011, and that is clear.
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the problem is that yesterday outside the House the minister said something else. The other problem is—
An hon. member: No, he didn’t.
Hon. Bob Rae: The record will stand. The record will stand.
Mr. Speaker, what I would like to ask the minister is very clearly it states that Canadian forces will be redeployed out of Kandahar by December 2011. It is unambiguous and clear.
I would like to ask the minister, how is that compatible with the statements by the minister, as well as the statements of the candidate who is running in Ajax? The two statements are incompatible.
Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the answer to his question is yes. I would strongly recommend that the hon. colleague read the transcript so that it will be clear. He might not understand what is written, but we all understand that is what it means.”
OK, so now we’re back to “no Canadian troops at all in Kandahar by end of 2011″.
Mark at The Torch hits the nail squarely on the head:
The government is dancing madly to avoid the clear meaning of the resolution. Any ongoing CF mission at Kandahar will require a new Commons’ vote. The last thing the government wants before an election. So the dancing will continue, regardless of the facts.
Couldn’t have put it better myself.