News Highlights – 9 Nov 10

  • Belatedly on my part, here’s the Veterans Affairs Minister’s response to all the protests calling for better treatment of wounded veterans here“…. I have listened closely to the concerns of the Veterans who gathered today. They can rest assured that we are working hard each and every day to make sure we are meeting their needs. Other improvements are in the works, notably concerning wait times and bureaucratic red tape ….”
  • According to the National Post, Denmark seems to be the latest to ask Canada “Please Don’t Go” from Afghanistan (not to mention a “stealth diplomatic charm offensive” allegedly being waged by the U.S., U.K. and NATO, according to the Canadian Press).  Terry Glavin at his Transmontanus blog, opines on, among other things, the PM’s position on the post-2011 mission and the potential for a flip flop:  “Prime Minister Harper has committed no flip from which to flop. He has kept shtum, like some sort of pensive emir, and he’s been allowed to get away with it. For more than a year.” Well, not COMPLETELY shtum – more from the PM here from January of this year“…. the bottom line is that the military mission will end in 2011. There will be a phased withdrawal, beginning in the middle of the year. We hope to have that concluded by the end of that year. As you know the Obama administration, not coincidentally, is talking about beginning its withdrawal in 2011, at the same time we are. We will continue to maintain humanitarian and development missions, as well as important diplomatic activity in Afghanistan. But we will not be undertaking any activities that require any kind of military presence, other than the odd guard guarding an embassy ….” The latest, according to, from PMO spokesperson Dmitri Soudas:  “After 2011, the government is considering the three following options: aid, development, and training in a non-combat role” Quite the change from the PM’s words in January, eh?  Meanwhile, more unnamed sources are telling CBC News that up to 1,000 Canadian troops could be left in Kabul to help train Afghan soldiers and cops – if the sources are to be believed, quite the embassy guard, indeed.  It’ll be interesting to hear how it’s sold if the training option gets picked.
  • Speaking of “Do we stay or do we go?”, CBC has an online poll to gauge public opinion here. So far, as of this post, loads more saying “go” than “stay”.  As for other opinions, at least one engineer sergeant who spoke to the National Post says the troops would be up for another go in Afghanistan, especially behind the wire.
  • According to the Toronto Star: The outgoing veterans ombudsman is prepared to launch a class-action lawsuit against the government over a claims process he says is wrongly denying disability benefits. Pat Stogran, who steps down from the position Wednesday, told the Star he has been approached by a private law firm about pursuing legal action over decisions made by the Veterans Review and Appeal Board regarding disability benefits ….”
  • Blog Watch (1): “Ex-journalist, ex-PR guy, and ex-Afghan military advisor”, Bruce Ralston, shares some insights about a recent article on the fight in Kandahar, and how all the money available to hire Afghans to help fight the fight may, in the long run, be making things worse.
  • Blog Watch (2):  Should Omar Khadr be charged with high treason?
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: More Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul provinces.

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