Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – 15 June 12

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  • Syria (1)  PM pokes Russia to do more  “Stephen Harper is urging Russia to stop thwarting international efforts to slap sanctions on Bashar al-Assad’s “murderous” regime in Syria. The Prime Minister targeted Moscow with public remarks Wednesday, calling on Russia to climb on board international efforts to impose binding sanctions on the Assad regime …. “We encourage Russia and others to join with us to apply binding sanctions against what is a murderous regime,” Mr. Harper told the Commons. “This is unacceptable to Canadians and I believe the broader international community.” ….”
  • Syria (2)  Analyst:  “As the Syrian government makes increasingly desperate and vicious efforts to keep power, pleas for military intervention, more or less on the Libyan model, have become more insistent. This course is morally attractive, to be sure. But should Western states follow this counsel? I believe not ….”
  • Afghanistan  What the Ambassador said at a big meeting in Kabul yesterday
  • Stuart Langridge, R.I.P.  In a scathing decision, the federal commissioner investigating the suicide of Afghan veteran Stuart Langridge has rejected an attempt by Canada’s embattled armed forces ombudsman to block testimony at the inquiry. Ombudsman Pierre Daigle, who has been under fire over his travel expenses, sexist jokes and overall performance as ombudsman, sent a lawyer to the Military Police Complaints Commission late last month to claim that forcing an investigator from his office to testify could undermine the reputation of the ombudsman office. The lawyer, Paul Déry-Goldberg, claimed the ombudsman had the legal right to solicitor-client confidentiality in the Langridge case. But in his decision, released Thursday, Complaints Commission chairman Glenn Stannard said the claim “makes no sense” and ordered investigator Patrick Martel to testify. “This submission is entirely without merit,” he said ….”
  • What the CBC considers the Big Four re:  problems facing Canada’s veterans
  • When Mark Walden joined the military as a teenager, a future career in banking seemed unlikely. In 1992, he was a “spanking new” 23-year-old platoon commander, leading men in Bosnia. He continued to rocket through the ranks. But years later he chose to pursue a civilian career, one of the hardest pursuits of his life. “How do you relate that world, what your responsibilities would have been, in a way that a banker or consultant understands?” he asks. Today, a partnership between the Canadian Forces and white collar businesses hopes to answer that question. Canada Company, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping men and women in uniform, is launching a website (today) which will see businesses such as Loblaws and PricewaterhouseCoopers post jobs for members of the Canadian Forces transitioning to civilian work ….”
  • Way Up North  The Economist (via Mark Collins) on how opening up the Arctic has to be a co-operative, not adversarial, effort  “…the risks of Arctic conflict have been exaggerated. Most of the Arctic is clearly assigned to individual countries. According to a Danish estimate, 95% of Arctic mineral resources are within agreed national boundaries. The biggest of the half-dozen remaining territorial disputes is between the United States and Canada, over whether the north-west passage is in international or Canadian waters, hardly a casus belli. Far from violent, the development of the Arctic is likely to be uncommonly harmonious, for three related reasons. One is the profit motive. The five Arctic littoral countries, Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway, would sooner develop the resources they have than argue over those they do not have. A sign of this was an agreement between Russia and Norway last year to fix their maritime border in the Barents Sea, ending a decades-long dispute. The border area is probably rich in oil; both countries are now racing to get exploration started ….”
  • Big Honkin’ Ships  CBC commentator on CDS’s latest statement  “This week, Canadians were treated to the unusual sight of a clearly peeved top soldier suggesting it would be awfully nice if the federal government actually started building some of the new ships it has so long bragged about providing our long neglected navy. It’s all well and good to have a $35-billion National Shipbuilding Strategy, Chief of the Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk told a Royal Canadian Legion audience in Halifax on Tuesday. “But we need to start cutting steel.” This means let’s start building real hulls for ships that can actually go to sea one day, instead of just talking strategy and debating objectives, as Ottawa politicians and bureaucrats have been doing for so long already ….”
  • New head of CSIS watchdog team  “Former Tory cabinet minister Chuck Strahl has been appointed to lead the body that serves as a watchdog over Canada’s spy agency. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has named Strahl as chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, effective immediately. Strahl, 55, was a British Columbia MP from 1993 until 2011 and served in cabinet in the Agriculture, Indian Affairs and Transport portfolios. He announced in 2005 that he was suffering from lung cancer brought on by exposure to asbestos years before. He stayed active in government for another six years, although he did not run for re-election last year ….” – more from the PM’s Info-machine here.
  • RCAF helps get a donated fire truck to the Dominican Republic  “…. the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, announced support for the town of Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic through the military transport of privately-donated fire-fighting equipment. Las Terrenas was badly damaged in a devastating fire last month and is in need of this equipment …. As the Royal Canadian Air Force had a previously-scheduled flight destined for the region, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada requested that the donated fire-fighting equipment be flown to the Dominican Republic on this flight …. The fire-fighting equipment, which has been collected and donated by the Trenton Rotary Club, the Oddfellows and Rebekah Lodge of Trenton, and Mr. Carl Eggiman of Belleville, Ont., was transported on a Canadian Forces CC-130J Hercules flight. The town of Las Terrenas will undoubtedly benefit from this donation.”
  • Niiiiiiiice ….  So what do the province of Ontario and sadistic sex slayer Russell Williams have in common? Neither want to compensate sexual assault victim Laurie Massicotte. And both also want her to pay their legal bills for her having the audacity of trying to sue them in the first place. You just don’t see that every day ….”
  • The Canadian government has intervened to thwart the plans of about 150 Sri Lankans preparing to illegally migrate to Canada, The Globe and Mail has learned. At least 148 Sri Lankans were arrested in late May in the African republic of Benin, where they were massing before boarding a ship for Canada. The Canadian government, which has pledged stronger efforts to stop illegal migrant ships before they reach Canada, worked with the government of Sri Lanka to interdict the group in Benin. The would-be migrants were deported back to Sri Lanka and arrived there Thursday, according to The Daily Mirror newspaper in Colombo, Sri Lanka ….”
  • Remembering a bit of RCAF WW 2 history in the U.K.  “On June 28, an estimated 900 air force veterans from Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain and other nations will converge on Green Park in London, United Kingdom, for the dedication and unveiling of a striking memorial honouring the bravery and sacrifice of the 55,573 airmen who lost their lives while serving in Bomber Command during the Second World War. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, will unveil the monument. The Bomber Command Association (BCA) (UK) is organising the ceremony to dedicate the memorial to those who waged the strategic bombing campaign. Canada’s commitment to Bomber Command was 15 squadrons, with the No. 6 Bomber Group – a Canadian formation – flying more than 40,000 missions. In total more than 40,000 Canadians served in Royal Canadian Air Force or Royal Air Force squadrons with some 10,600 losing their lives. The Canadians were the second largest contingent of aircrews in Bomber Command ….”
  • War of 1812 (1)  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is spending more than $28 million on a war that happened 200 years ago, leaving no doubt it takes the War of 1812 bicentennial very seriously. A special silver dollar coin (which sells for $60), a new national monument, funding for historical re-enactments, upgrades for historic sites, museum exhibits and even a mobile phone app are among the ways taxpayers are supporting the celebration of the anniversary. The government has been investing in these projects for the last three years and Harper has personally participated in some of the commemorative events. Most recently, he and Prince Charles marked the anniversary at a military ceremony in Toronto last month. The Conservatives call the War of 1812 a decisive moment in Canada’s history that deserves to be recognized accordingly, but some have questioned the bicentennial’s price tag, particularly at a time when the government is slashing spending and laying off public servants ….”
  • War of 1812 (2)  “Two hundred years of peace make it easy to forget a war.” The slogan for the bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812 calls on people to remember a war with no living veterans. Five years of hard work later, Thursday saw the launch of the city’s War of 1812 bicentennial program on the Garrison Ground, the final battleground for the Battle of York. With more than a hundred events planned throughout 2012 and 2013, the people of Toronto will get a chance to revisit the war and learn about those who fought and died. Councillor Michael Thompson represented the mayor and City Hall at the launch, saying great things can happen when government organizations work together. The W. Garfield Weston Foundation donated $1 million to renew the grounds at Fort York ….”
  • War of 1812 (3)  “When the first big battle of the War of 1812 is re-enacted this fall, the U.S. 1st Artillery regiment will mount an ear-splitting barrage. The Yanks will point their cannons at British redcoats across the Niagara River in Canada. They will wear blue. They will curse King George. Unlike 200 years ago, they will all be Canadians. Many Americans aren’t that into the War of 1812 — not like Canadians, anyway — so the latter often play the former in re-enactments along the international border (near Lewiston, New York) ….”
  • War of 1812 (4)  Column “…. We know the Harper government has put a big push behind the 200th birthday party, as part of their campaign to glamourize Canadian wars (versus the wussy peacekeeping that Liberals were supposedly into). And to justify billions of dollars on jets whose purpose they can’t explain, while dismantling support for the unemployed and research into budget items like climate change. But the glamourization of war is odious not because of what it claims; it’s because of what it omits ….”
  • Former Air Marshal finally getting a military plot in Ottawa  “…. Sixty years after A/M Edwards’ funeral, this ceremony will recognize one of Canada’s military heroes. A/M Edwards was a veteran of both World Wars and one of the founding fathers of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Being reinterred with comrades-in-arms is a fitting resting place for this extraordinary man who dedicated so much of his life and energy to Canada and its armed forces. In attendance will be Lieutenant-General André Deschamps, Commander of the RCAF, A/M Edwards’ daughter, Suzanne Edwards, and other distinguished guests. A/M Edwards volunteered to serve in the First World War as a fighter pilot in the Royal Naval Air Service where he saw service on the front lines, shooting down one enemy aircraft before being shot down himself and captured. Upon his release from captivity at the war’s end, he volunteered to fight in Russia as a member of the Royal Air Force (RAF). Between the wars he participated in aerial mapping of Manitoba and held command of RCAF Station Dartmouth. Courageous and compassionate, his rise from Group Captain (1939) to Air Marshal (1942) was meteoric. As the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief RCAF Overseas, he pushed hard to keep Canadian air crews together – in accordance with the Canadian Government’s policy on “Canadianization” of units – instead of being scattered throughout RAF units. A/M Edwards, who died of natural causes on February 23, 1952, at the age of 59, was ineligible at the time for burial in the military section of the cemetery. The regulations at the time stated that only those on active service at the time of death could be buried in the military section. Today, all serving and honourably released members of the Canadian Forces, both Regular and Reserve Force, are eligible for interment in the NMC ….”

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