News Highlights – 22 Mar 11

  • No Fly Zone in Libya (1) Canada’s CF-188’s fly their first mission over Libya. More from the Toronto Star here, the Globe & Mail here, here, Postmedia News here and here, Dow Jones wire service here and Agence France-Presse here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2a)The Harper government rallied opposition parties to “war” Monday, casting Canada’s military intervention in the Libyan crisis as a moral imperative.  A House of Commons debate took place within hours of the air force carrying out its first combat patrol to enforce the UN-mandated no-fly zone over the embattled north African country …. MacKay couldn’t say how long the no-fly mission would last, but said no one wants to have forces in harm’s way any longer than necessary.  The motion, which sources said was the subject of feverish back room drafting among the parties, passed unanimously late Monday night ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2b)Here’s the motion Parliament passed“In standing in solidarity with those seeking freedom in Libya, the House welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973; that the House deplores the ongoing use of violence by the Libyan regime against the Libyan people; acknowledges the demonstrable need, regional support and clear legal basis for urgent action to protect the people of Libya; consequently, the government shall work with our allies, partners and the United Nations to promote and support all aspects of UNSC Resolution 1973, which includes the taking of all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya and to enforce the no-fly zone, including the use of the Canadian Forces and military assets in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1973; that the House requests that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Standing Committee on National Defence remain seized of Canada’s activities under UNSC Resolution 1973; that should the government require an extension to the involvement of the Canadian Forces for more than three months from the passage of this motion, the government shall return to the House at its earliest opportunity to debate and seek the consent of the House for such an extension; and that the House offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of the Canadian Forces.” Want to read the debate?  Click here for Hansard’s transcript or here for a PDF of the debate transcript (49 pages).
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (3) – Canadian warship HMCS Charlottetown is patrolling the waters north of Libya, as UN-backed airstrikes continue. Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen said Charlottetown is with NATO ships, but not with the convoy enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya. “We’re able to see some of the strikes commence but we’re a little farther back, so we’re in a safe area,” he told CBC News on Monday morning. Charlottetown and its 240 crew members left their home port of Halifax on March 2. At the time, the mission was to evacuate Canadian citizens from Libya and provide humanitarian assistance. By the time the ship was in the area, the mission had changed. Skjerpen said it’s possible the ship will be called on to help enforce an embargo. For now, there is no specific task other than to patrol. “We’re looking at the vessels and the aircraft that are in the area and we’re learning the traffic patterns to see if there’s anything abnormal,” he said ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Terry Glavin comments on how even with the U.N. sanctioning the mission, the “usual suspects” are opposed: “…. there was little in the way of singing and dancing going on in certain sections of the Toronto Danforth, it is an understatement to say. “The UN Security Council resolution which authorizes ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians from attack is dangerously vague and opens the door to a much larger western military intervention in the country,” the so-called Canadian Peace Alliance complains. This is what one might expect from some of the most conservative, narrow-minded, privileged and autocrat-fancying counterrevolutionaries to come along since the early Mussolinists. But in the days and weeks to come, how many degrees of separation will this posture mark from that of the New Democratic Party? ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (5) – The UN Security Council on Monday turned down a Libyan request for a special meeting to discuss Western air strikes on the country following the council’s imposition of a no-fly zone, diplomats said. The council decided instead simply to hold a briefing already planned for Thursday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on how the resolution that set up the zone to protect civilians in Libya’s internal conflict is being implemented ….” More from the Globe & Mail here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (6) – Not EVERYONE in NATO wants the mission to become a NATO mission. “…. So far, the NATO alliance has been unable to reach an agreement on participation in the military implementation of the no-fly zone. Turkey is resisting the measure and is calling for a new review of other possible measures the alliance could take in Libya. Ankara has also called for an immediate Western cease-fire, with Turkish officials calling on NATO to give greater consideration in its discussions to the possibility of civilian deaths, a NATO diplomat told the news agency AFP under the condition of anonymity. Ankara has rejected any NATO intervention against Libya, including the implementation of a no-fly zone ….”
  • While Canadian eyes turn to the fighter planes scrambling over Libya, a Montreal conference will discuss how the country has turned a blind eye to a far deadlier conflict elsewhere in Africa. Canada has deep business interests in Congo, where millions have died in a war related to mining, and has resisted calls for more military involvement there. A panellist for Tuesday’s Concordia University event said Canada is intimately involved in the ongoing Congolese conflict. “Canada, unfortunately, has become a safe haven for multinationals who are exploiting different areas around the world,” said Kambale Musavuli of Friends of Congo in Washington, D.C. “Many of the mining companies in the Congo — who either work with the rebels directly (or) funded them — are actually trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.” ….”
  • Wounded warriors back in the fight in Afghanistan – well done! “Cpl. Maxime Emond-Pepin’s missing left eye and scarred face set him apart him from most of his peers, as does his ability to bounce back from devastating injuries. The 22-year-old from Longueuil, Que., refused to allow his battlefield scars to deter him from returning to the job he loves. His resolve was tested after a fellow soldier stepped on an improvised explosive device while the two were patrolling in Kandahar on Aug. 6, 2009. The soldier lost a leg and Emond-Pepin’s eye was damaged beyond repair. Gruelling rehabilitation sessions followed and he made a speedy recovery ….”
  • Afghan forces will take over security in seven areas in the country this summer, none of which are in Kandahar despite five years of fighting by Canadian troops in the southern province. President Hamid Karzai’s announcement today is a stark reminder that despite recent battlefield successes, much work remains before Kandahar’s security can be handed over to Afghan forces ….”
  • Some rule changes in Kandahar are being considered following a less-than-productive exchange at a vehicle accident. “The Afghan troops were manning a checkpoint near the Dand district centre in Deh-e-Bagh when a resupply convoy backed up and hit an Afghan army pickup truck, causing some damage. The Canadian convoy commander, whom the NATO assessment identifies only as a corporal, tried to give a compensation claims card to an Afghan army lieutenant. But the lieutenant refused to accept it, saying he wanted cash instead because he had been reprimanded by his supervisors in the past when he could not produce money for vehicle damage. “(There were) frustrations on both sides, because there’s a little bit of a language barrier,” said Lt.-Col. Webster Wright, a public affairs officer with RC-South ….”
  • A former Canadian civilian boss from the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team says “The stubborn Afghan theatre may very well be the incubator for new experiments in bottom-up stabilization of war-torn states.
  • New high tech for Canada’s navy, coast guard: “The Government of Canada has awarded a contract for an Interdepartmental Maritime Integrated Command, Control and Communications (IMIC3) system to Thales Canada. “This state of the art system will give navy and Coast Guard commanders the information they need as they work together to protect Canada’s coast line,” said Minister MacKay. “By equipping the Canadian Forces with the tools they need to do their jobs, our government is delivering on our commitment to protect Canada and Canadian interests.” The IMIC3 system will equip the navy and the Canadian Coast Guard with an advanced capability to gather and share data from coastal surveillance in near real time. Using sophisticated, integrated technologies, it will improve the secure exchange of positional information by providing operational commanders and other government departments — on shore and at sea — with the same satellite data at the same time. This will allow for more coordinated planning and execution of maritime operations in defence of Canada ….” More here.
  • Historian Jack Granatstein on the coming federal election:  don’t expect much defence talk. “…. What is almost certain is that it will be the only one as the politicians, the media, and the electorate focus in on domestic issues to the exclusion of everything else. Even the F-35 purchase will be framed in a “buy the aircraft or establish a national day care plan” terms. There will be no discussion of Afghanistan and the new training mission. There will be little talk of the Libyan operation unless a Canadian Air Force aircraft kills civilians. Nothing will be said about the Canada-US security talks unless the NDP feels that a burst of anti-Americanism might be helpful. And certainly no leader, no party, will say anything about Canadian national interests and how they might best be protected or advanced ….”\
  • F-35 Tug o’ War –The great majority of Canadians do not want the federal government to purchase new fighter jets, even though Prime Minister Stephen Harper is bound and determined to do just that. Nor is the Conservative lead on economic issues all that robust. These findings from a new Nanos poll for The Globe and Mail and CTV will put wind in the sails of opposition leaders during what appear to be the final days before a spring election campaign ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1) – Canada’s military engineering school is outsourcing “construction engineering technicians of the Canadian Forces (CF) on Operational level Drafting and Surveying”. (via
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2) – Test dummies for DRDC Valcartier (via

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