News Highlights – 29 Oct 11

  • Janick Gilbert, 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, R.I.P.  A search and rescue technician (SAR Tech) from 8 Wing Trenton has died while participating in a rescue mission near Igloolik (Hall Bay), Nunavut on the evening of Thursday, October 27 …. Sergeant Janick Gilbert was a SAR Tech with 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron …. The incident is currently under investigation.”  Statements of condolence from the Commander-in-Chief, the PM and the Defence Minister – condolences thread at here.  Media coverage (via Google News search) here.
  • Libya Mission  We’re done“As directed by the Government of Canada, Operation MOBILE (Canada’s military response to the crisis in Libya) will commence mission closure activities. This announcement comes as the North Atlantic Council agreed today to end Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, the NATO-led effort to impose on Libya the arms embargo and no-fly zone authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. This follows the UN Security Council’s unanimous adoption yesterday of UNSCR 2016 on Libya, terminating the protection of civilians and no fly zone provisions of UNSCR 1973, effective October 31, 2011 ….”  More on that here, here and here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Another CF Info-Machine piece on how the transition mission is different from the others.
  • Afghanistan (2)  A Canadian Government Info-Machine product (podcast) on the mission – transcript here.
  • Way Up North  One of Canada’s competitors partners in the Arctic says China has at least some claim in the colder parts of the world.   “A new Great Game is making a quiet appearance in Canada’s Arctic. In a speech Friday in Beijing, the Danish ambassador to China, Friis Arne Peterson, said the communist country has “natural and legitimate economic and scientific interests in the Arctic” even though it lacks a coastline in the rapidly thawing polar region. He went on to say that his government would like to see China given permanent observer status in the eight-member Arctic Council, which currently includes Canada, Russia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and the United States. China has applied to become a permanent observer in the forum. “The Danish government would like to see China as a permanent observer, and I think that others (in the Arctic Council) are likewise willing to do that,” the ambassador told a group of journalists. That assumption is both questionable and problematic, according to scholars and analysts who specialize in Arctic affairs. Some suggest the Danish ambassador was not only trying to leverage Denmark’s influence in the Arctic Council, but soliciting Chinese investment to help the Danes exploit Greenland’s natural resources. And from China’s perspective, they say, the ambassador’s remarks reflect China’s interest in gaining access to resources and increasing its geopolitical clout ….”
  • Is Canada Buying Nuclear Subs (continued)? (1)  According to the Defence Minister and several others, nope.  More at discussion thread here.  More from Question Period yesterday here.
  • Is Canada Buying Nuclear Subs (continued)? (2)  One option, according to an American blogger:  lease some American nuclear subs (assuming they’d be willing to lease to an ally in whose backyard the U.S. Navy has been allegedly playing in without permission).
  • Is Canada Buying Nuclear Subs (continued)? (3)  Another American defence purchasing blog’s take“…. defense issues are national issues for Canadians (and Australians) in ways they aren’t for Americans …. for the most part, voters just don’t care. Canada is different, though. Every couple of weeks, for example, the mainstream national newspapers have an item about Canada’s membership in Club F-35 — either political controversy or some new question about the jets’ capability. As you read on Defense Tech, the Winnepeg Free Press reported that Canada’s CF-35s may not be able to fully communicate when they’re patrolling their portions of the Arctic. The National Post had a column about the program “unraveling” on Friday. All this means that Ottawa can’t make big defense decisions such as buying or leasing nuclear submarines out of sight, the way our Pentagon mostly operates on its own. So given how much juice it’s already costing Canada’s Conservative government to buy 65 CF-35s, any discussion about nuclear submarines might prove to be a boat too far.”
  • Is Canada Buying Nuclear Subs (continued)? (4)  One National Post columnist’s take“…. If we want to preserve our Arctic sovereignty, we need submarines capable of staying submerged for weeks. Only subs with nuclear powerplants can do that reliably. So if we want to patrol our northern ocean effectively we need nukes. Either that or we should just get out of the sub-owning business altogether ….”
  • Is Canada Buying Nuclear Subs (continued)? (5)’s take “…. Nuclear-powered submarines are definitely not part of Ceasefire’s vision of an ideal world, and neither for that matter is Peter MacKay as Minister of National Defence. But however that may be, in the real world there is not going to be any Canadian nuclear sub purchase. Indeed, the government is already apparently disavowing the notion. Even a minimal, one-to-one replacement of the Victorias with French or British nuclear submarines similar to those proposed when Perrin Beatty was Defence Minister in 1987 would cost around $10 billion, not counting lifetime operations and maintenance costs. And buying something like an American nuclear sub would be vastly more expensive, assuming we could convince the U.S. to sell some. All in order to create a bare minimum force of marginal use (if indeed it had any use at all)? Not even this government is that dumb. Right? ….”
  • Speaking of submarines….  “In the face of hard questions from the Harper government about Canada’s problem-plagued submarines, the navy’s top sailor is pledging fully operating boats will be on the East and West Coasts by the second half of 2012. This would be a breakthrough of sorts for the subs that Canada bought from Britain in 1998 – which for more than a decade have fallen exceedingly short of expectations ….”  More in this surprisingly well-timed backgrounder on subs issued by the CF Info-Machine yesterday.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Associate Minister Julian Fantino confirms we’re NOT dumping the F-35 program (again) in the House of Commons“Mr. Speaker, there is no intent to pull the plug on an asset that is so critical to Canadian sovereignty and provides our men and women the assets they need well into the future to fulfill their missions and return home safe at the end of those missions to their families. As well, we are now into cutting steel. This is not a reversal item. This is the right plane, the right aircraft for the right time and well into the future. We made that decision. In fact, the Liberal government of the day in 1997 embarked on this very same project.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Aussies auditing their F-35 program because of delivery delay worries.
  • The Access to Information Act:  Helping media ensure information vital to the needs of taxpayers gets out there since 1982!  Since 2006, the Canadian Forces has purchased about 1.5 million condoms for Canadian soldiers at a cost to taxpayers of $177,868According to an article in La Presse, the taxpayer funded initiative has been in place since World War I as a means to combat sexually transmitted diseases within Canadian military ranks. Despite strict rules against romantic liaisons during military deployments, soldiers can readily acquire condoms on military base clinics and pharmacies. Ostensibly, the condoms are meant for soldiers going on leave but the reality is another story ….”
  • What the Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent says he heard during a recent series of town-hall meetings on Veterans Affairs Canada programs and benefits.  “…. Two main themes emerged throughout these activities. Firstly, the communication from Veterans Affairs Canada to the Veterans’ community needs improvement. There is often either a lack of communication from the Department or the information that is provided is unclear, too complex, and bureaucratic. Secondly, access to programs is too complex and difficult. Often, Veterans in need of assistance are so disheartened by the process that they simply give up and suffer in silence. I want to assure the Veterans’ community that we hear these concerns loudly and clearly and that the Office will continue to raise these issues with the Department and the Minister ….”
  • A Charlottetown woman wants to honour her late husband by wearing his military medals for Remembrance Day, but she doesn’t want to break the law. Madrien Ferris said Friday she would like to wear the 10 medals her husband Albert, nicknamed Smiley, received during his 30 years in the Canadian Armed Forces. But Article 419 of the Criminal Code prohibits anyone other than the veteran from doing so …. She said she was surprised to learn that wearing his medals would be illegal …. A decade ago, an effort was made to change the law in Ottawa but it was voted down. Medals can be worn on the right side by family members of veterans in Britain and Australia ….”

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