News Highlights – 28 Nov 10

  • 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.”

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