News Highlights – 28 Jan 11

  • Canadian Defence Minister meets U.S. Secretary of Defensefrom Canada’s official statement “…. During their meeting, the Minister and the Secretary addressed important issues related to the security of the Western Hemisphere, such as the situation in Mexico and Central America and how Canada and the U.S. can assist their partners in the region. They also pledged to continue to support the work of civilian law enforcement agencies in countering illicit activities such as narcotics, human trafficking and piracy. On the bilateral front, Minister MacKay and Secretary Gates discussed efforts through NORAD and the new challenges facing defence and security institutions such as maritime domain awareness and cyber threats. Minister MacKay and Secretary Gates also discussed Afghanistan, NATO and global challenges like Iran.”
  • U.S. Secretary of Defense meets Canadian Defence Ministerfrom the U.S. military media “…. Gates and MacKay addressed threats to the Western Hemisphere, cooperation among the nations of the hemisphere and efforts to combat a range of international threats such as piracy, counterterrorism, narco-trafficking and human trafficking. Gates said he and MacKay discussed expanded cooperation in the Arctic, coordinating maritime security assistance to the Caribbean region and sharing defense practices for supporting civilian authorities. The two men also discussed the North American Aerospace Defense Command, especially the new maritime domain awareness mission assigned to the group. They also discussed the decision to allow the Joint Permanent Board on Defense to continue looking at ways to examine a cyberdefense role. Gates said the two nations will “examine together how the advanced defenses of our military networks might also be applied to critical civilian infrastructure.” Gates reaffirmed America’s strong commitment to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Canada is an integral partner in the program and the new fighter will be the Canadian military’s aviation backbone for decades. Gates said the Pentagon has made adjustments to the program, and that the United States is expecting to have 325 aircraft built by 2016 ….”
  • Oh, and what about the Afghan training mission thing?  Still chatting about it, apparently. “The top bosses of both the United States and Canadian militaries are in discussions “right now” to shape the upcoming Canadian training mission in Afghanistan, according to Defence Minister Peter MacKay.  With the training mission set to begin in July once the Canadian Forces pull out of insurgent-rich Kandahar, MacKay said work is now underway to shape Canada’s future role in war-torn Afghanistan.  Not only is Canada looking for a base-type facility in the relatively secure northern part of the country — as close as possible to the capital Kabul — from which to train the Afghan security forces, but also top military bosses from both the U.S. and Canada are sorting out what to teach them first.  “We’re in negotiations right now with NATO, with our closest allies including the United States, to determine specifically some of the more urgent types of training that are required,” he said Thursday at a press conference with U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates following a bilateral defence meeting in Ottawa.  “Our Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk is in these discussions right now with Admiral Mullen, his (U.S.) counterpart, as well as with (U.S.) Gen. Petraeus.” ….” More on Canada’s “Kabul-centric” approach from the Canadian Press here.
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchThe Taliban shows what a great administrative system, and announces a new English-language propaganda video.
  • Speaking of foreign visitors, the former “Governator” of California congratulates the contribution of Canada’s waves of troops – in Iraq. True, Canadians have served in Iraq (examples from the critics here, here and here) , but if he was quoted properly, it felt like he was thanking a group of troops.
  • F-35 Tug of War Update (1): Scrapping a plan to purchase American fighter jets risks leaving the Canadian Air Force grounded in 2020, the defence minister says. Peter MacKay says opposition to the purchase of 65 F-35 jets, which are experiencing delays and cost overruns, could result in an “operational gap” when the current fleet of fighter jets are pulled from service. There is no guarantee a replacement could be found on time. “There is, shall we say, a sweet spot in terms of the delivery time and the investment that allows us to be in that production line, that global supply chain when we start taking delivery,” MacKay said Thursday ….”
  • F-35 Tug of War Update (2): Canada’s participation in a massive fighter-jet purchase is critical for all players involved, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday, amid suggestions that a Liberal government could jeopardize the project. Following a bilateral meeting in Ottawa with Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Gates said he didn’t wish to interfere in Canada’s domestic affairs but that he hoped, “for all our sake,” all the partners involved in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will “move forward” with it. Doing so, he suggested, would ensure the interoperability of allied fleets ….”
  • US buying RG-31s via Canadian Commercial Corporation (via, with a h/t to Mark Collins for spotting it first)
  • WHAT’S CANADA BUYING? “Cultural Intelligence and Identity” & leadership paper (via
  • Easy come, easy go for the brother-in-law of Tunisia’s recently-booted leader. “The Canadian government has reportedly revoked the permanent-resident status of the billionaire brother-in-law of a Tunisian dictator. Belhassen Trabelsi, who arrived in Canada with his family last week, had his status revoked Thursday, Radio-Canada’s all-news channel reported. Mr. Trabelsi is the reputed leader of a family that ran much of Tunisia’s economy with an iron fist. His sister, Leila Trabelsi, married former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the 1990s. The clan is accused of using their connections to the dictator to siphon off billions in public funds for their personal wealth ….” More from the Canadian Press here.
  • Canadian security officials: at least 20 Canadian”youths” (mostly from the GTA) have been recruited by Somalia’s al-Shabaab terrorists.
  • The feds are apparently looking for ways to deal with foreign bad guys in Canada without needing security certificates. “…. A federal interdepartmental body known as the Alternatives to Removal Working Group began meeting in March 2009 to explore policy options for managing people deemed a threat to national security, documents disclosed under the Access to Information Act show. The group, which includes the RCMP, Citizenship and Immigration, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada Border Services Agency, Justice, Public Safety and Foreign Affairs, has “produced a detailed body of work” on tools available under the law, says one internal memo. Among the alternatives to deportation identified are greater reliance on:
    — the Anti-terrorism Act to prosecute suspects;
    — other Criminal Code provisions relating to offences including violence, theft, forgery and conspiracy;
    — preventive measures including a peace bond, an order issued under the Criminal Code that allows authorities to keep someone under surveillance.  Another document shows the federal Privy Council Office was keenly eyeing the British debate over use of control orders — a means of strictly monitoring terror suspects through curfews and prohibitions on communication ….”
    — also viewable here if previous link doesn’t work

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