News Highlights – 6 Oct 11

  • Afghanistan (1)  Mainstream media video on Canada’s new mission.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Cyprus media keeping track of when Canadian vehicles will be outta there, and how they’re being cleaned‘The (Canadian Forces) have cleaned up the last set of military vehicles from Afghanistan which should be shipped back to Canada in ten days, the Green party said yesterday. Homebound Canadian forces have been using the island to clean their military vehicles, which were deployed in Afghanistan. Canadian authorities wanted to purge the vehicles of any dangerous bacteria and organisms which could cause a potential threat to Canadian agriculture by introducing plant diseases, the Green’s Giorgos Perdikis said. Perdikis yesterday had a meeting with the Cyprus Port Authority (CPA) head Chrysis Prentzas and Larnaca harbourmaster Pampis Vassiliou. The meeting followed “strong complaints and worries” by residents close to the port about the cleaning methods, Perdikis said. The Greens had previously said that Canadian tanks and vehicles could contain traces of depleted uranium or dangerous organisms. Perdikis said that they were given assurances from the Foreign Ministry and other relevant authorities that there was no danger ….”
  • Libya Mission/Afghanistan  NATO allies debated on Thursday how quickly to end the bombing campaign in Libya as they reviewed progress in their plans to withdraw combat troops from the 10-year-old war in Afghanistan. With Moammar Gadhafi diehards surrounded by the new leadership’s forces in Sirte and Bani Walid, and the fallen Libyan leader in hiding, the number of NATO air strikes has drastically declined in recent weeks. NATO officials say the six-month-old air war will continue as long as Gadhafi loyalists pose a threat to civilians. “Sirte is extremely symbolic, but it is important that we no longer have pockets of resistance,” said French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet. “Whether Gadhafi disappears from the scene is important, but it’s not enough,” Longuet told reporters before a second day of talks with NATO counterparts. NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, recommended to the ministers late Wednesday that the mission continue until the new regime consolidates control of the entire country, diplomats said …. Success in Afghanistan, a war marking its 10th anniversary on Friday, also depends on the ability of local forces to ensure security for the population. NATO is gradually handing control of the battlefield to Afghan forces, with the goal of withdrawing foreign combat troops from the country by 2014. Some 140,000 NATO soldiers are in Afghanistan, including 100,000 Americans ….”
  • Libya Mission  Carleton University prof’s legal beagle role in Canada’s mission“Professor Chris Penny returned to his full-time teaching duties at NPSIA, following a sabbatical year spent researching – and applying – the international law of armed conflict. In addition to ongoing work on a legal textbook in this field, and related journal articles, Professor Penny was also able to apply his knowledge during his summer ‘vacation’ while deployed with the Canadian Forces (where he is a reserve legal officer – Lieutenant-Colonel – in the Office of the Judge Advocate General). Professor Penny served as the personal Canadian legal advisor to Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Commander, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Unified Protector ….”
  • Timeline:  The Challenger, The Media and The CF Info-Machine  16 Sept 11:  CDS dinged by media for flying Challenger to family after canceling leave for repatriation.  16 Sept 11:  PM says “CDS’ll have to pay if he wasn’t following the rules.”  18 Sept 11: post explains how planes will fly empty even if CDS doesn’t fly in them.  19 Sept 11: post shares info on what’s allowed re:  canceling leave and transportation.  19 Sept 11:  CDS steps up, openly, saying he’d pay if he was wrong.  23 Sept 11:  Minister dinged for Challenger use.  29 Sept 11:  PM defends minister’s use of Challenger.  5 Oct 11:  CF Info-Machine explains how they cost Challenger flying time.
  • CTV continues to ride the Challenger logs story train, this time questioning the repatriation of a seriously injured CF member from the U.S.  “The Royal Canadian Air Force is defending a decision to fly a vacationing captain back to Canada aboard a Challenger jet after a motorcycle accident left him seriously injured in the United States. The flight, which cost about $24,000, occurred last July after Capt. Terry Hunter was injured during a trip to Upstate New York, CTV News has learned. Initially, Hunter spent 10 days in a U.S. hospital before the Canadian Forces dispatched a Challenger jet to bring him back to Canada. “Yeah, it was considered a mercy flight,” Hunter told CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife. Hunter said that he was on holidays with his daughter when his bike’s back tire blew out. The crash left him with 16 broken ribs. Hunter said he did not ask to be flown back to Canada, adding that he assumed his superiors were simply trying to help after a debilitating crash. “It was either that or go through an eight-hour ambulance drive,” said Hunter, who has served in places like South Sudan during his tenure. According to Lt.-Col. Norbert Cyr, senior public affairs advisor to the chief of defence staff, bringing the injured air captain home aboard an executive jet was appropriate, even though he was on vacation at the time. “We are always on duty,” Cyr said, adding that Hunter’s “serious condition required specialist in-flight care and did not allow him to be transferred via commercial air.” In a written statement to CTV News, Cyr added that members of the Canadian Forces do not have access to regular health care like OHIP or provincial care, as the Canadian Forces are responsible for providing it. Cyr’s statement stressed that “due to the high cost” of U.S. healthcare and the high quality of Canadian healthcare, it is often in the best interest to bring the patient back to Canada ….”
  • Note to Opposition Staff on the above:  if this comes up in Question Period in the House of Commons today, you DO know whoever asks the questions will may forever be tarred with the “s/he doesn’t support the troops”, right?  Some free advice, worth every penny….
  • What’s Canada (Not) Buying (at least for now)?  There seems to be a halt on the processes to find a new pistol for CF members (more of the original MERX post here) and a new bolt-action rifle for the Canadian Rangers.  No word on why yet.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Mark Collins on the latest “how much is the F-35 gonna cost?” see-saw.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  The latest from Associate Minister Julian Fantino in the House of Commons“Mr. Speaker, all reasonable people agree that Canada needs aircraft in order to defend Canadian sovereignty. The current CF-18s must be replaced and our budget for the purchase of F-35s remains on track …. Let me be clear, Mr. Speaker. We will ensure that our men and women in uniform have the best equipment to do the job they are required to do safely. As responsible citizens, responsible politicians and responsible government, we owe them no less …. Our budget for the F-35s remains on track. This includes not only the aircraft but also infrastructure, parts, training, simulators, and so forth. It is the only machine that is going to provide us the kind of safety, security and sovereignty in our country that Canada requires at this time and in the future …. the F-35 aircraft is the one item that is absolutely critical and helps to ensure that we will maintain our sovereignty well into the future. It includes not only the aircraft; it includes other components for years to come in the future, enabling Canada to be competitive and coordinated with our partners in NATO and the UN missions.”
  • More media running with the “CF buys real fur hats, animal rights groups gripe” story here and here.
  • MP welcomes HMCS Montreal home from Great Lakes tour“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute Commanding Officer Jamie Tennant and the entire ship’s company of the HMCS Montreal, the Halifax class frigate that has just returned from its Great Lakes deployment. This annual event provides Canadians an opportunity to tour a navy vessel and discover career opportunities available with the Canadian Forces. I was pleased to sail with the Montreal at the beginning of the deployment as part of the Canadian Forces parliamentary program. I saw first-hand the skills and dedication necessary to keep a Canadian warship running. From the engine room, to the kitchen, to the bridge, each woman and man has a vitally important role and each does his or her job well. My grandfather, Keith Bateman, served in the Royal Canadian Navy in the 1950s. I am pleased to be part of a Conservative government that has restored the “Royal” designation to Canada’s navy. From Halifax and Esquimalt to wherever we ask it to go today’s Royal Canadian Navy continues to do Canada proud.”
  • Supporting the troops in Cochrane, Ontario“A motorcycle fundraiser set to take place in Cochrane this weekend is expected to attract veterans and their supporters from all over the province. On Oct. 8, Rolling Thunder 2011 Cochrane Poker Rally will help raise awareness about the extreme hardships faced by members of Canada’s military upon their return from service. Participants will ride from Cochrane to Canmore, passing through the Stoney Nakoda Nation, and the day’s festivities will include draw prizes, music, a dinner and dance, and other entertainment ….”
  • The Harper government is devoting millions of dollars to commemorating the War of 1812, but a survey conducted for Ottawa shows Canadians know relatively little about the conflict. The research also found that eagerness to learn more about the 200-year-old war declines outside Ontario, where a significant number of the battles took place. “Respondents may be aware of the War of 1812, but their knowledge of key countries, historical figures and sites involved is limited,” says a June, 2011, study prepared for the Department of Canadian Heritage ….”
  • No government money for fallen war animals on federal land.  A Second World War veteran trying to erect a monument dedicated to animals that fought and died with Canadian soldiers has been denied federal funding because the memorial will be built on Crown land. For the past two years, Lloyd Swick has been working to honour the thousands of dogs, horses, pigeons and mice that served on the front lines with and in support of Canadians over the decades …. Originally, Swick wanted to put a monument to animals on a piece of grass right beside the National War Memorial. “That would have been the absolutely supreme of supreme spots,” he said. However, after many discussions with the NCC over an alternate location, a site in nearby Confederation Park, which is managed by the federal agency as Crown land, was approved earlier this year …. Blaney’s office did not respond to questions, but a Veterans Affairs spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that Swick’s application through the Community War Memorial Program was rejected because the monument will be built on federal property and because it is a project of “national significance.” “Regrettably we have no leeway to make exceptions to the terms and conditions of the program,” spokeswoman Janice Summerby said ….”
  • Cold war history to be displayed underground in northern Ontario?  “North Bay City Council members relived many important historical events while listening to a special presentation during Monday night’s regular council meeting. Military history buff, Trevor Schindeler, gained unanimous support from council with his noble quest to have the Government of Canada consider developing the Underground NORAD Complex into a World Class National Cold War Museum. The facility has immense historical significance. It was there that Canadian and American military personnel stationed in North Bay fought and won the Cold War …. “

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