News Highlights – 3 July 12

  • The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, and Major-General Jonathan Vance, Director of Staff, Strategic Joint Staff, visited with the officers and crew of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Charlottetown in the Gulf of Oman (yesterday), as part of a Team Canada visit …. During their visit, Ministers MacKay and Fantino met with HMCS Charlottetown’s leadership and personnel, attended a promotion ceremony on the ship’s deck and participated in a town hall meeting. The visit concluded with entertainment for the crew by Glass Tiger, comedian Kelly Taylor, singer-songwriter Liz Coyles. The crew also had an opportunity to meet former hockey players Tiger Williams and Mark Napier ….”
  • Canada joining allies in the Pacific  “So many nations are participating in this year’s Rim of the Pacific war games off Hawaii that China feels left out.  “Watching from afar, China is feeling uncomfortable,” wrote the Global Times, published under the auspices of the Communist Party of China. “But it should be forgotten soon. The exercise is nothing but a big party held by the U.S. which is in a melancholy state of mind due to difficult realities.”  Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies in Honolulu, sees the reasons for the significant growth in the maritime maneuvers.  “Only until a decade ago, until Sept. 11, 2001, we were still thinking (in terms of) a Cold War/post-Cold War world in which the chief challenges we were dealing with were predominately state-based challenges,” he said …. Glosserman said countries in the region are slowly beginning to appreciate the value of the maritime cooperation that is practiced through RIMPAC …. Participating nations in the biennial RIMPAC totaled eight in 2002; seven in 2004; eight in 2006; 10 in 2008; 14 in 2010; and 22 this year. Exercises started Friday and run through Aug. 3 in and around the Hawaiian Islands …. Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, Singapore and the United States are among the nations in this year’s RIMPAC ….”
  • More Senatorial commentary on the state of Canada’s defences (this time, naval)  “Sea defence has been crucial to most nations’ sovereignty for centuries; air defence for little over half a century. So it seems a bit strange that Canada’s current air defences are so sophisticated while our sea defences are so primitive ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Boat trailers for Franktown Road, trucks & trailers for Richmond, Ontario & Petawawa, an electrical upgrade in Richmond, Ontario, 24 x “heavy duty backpack-style (medical) equipment bags and 18 forceps” destined for Richmond, Ontario and Petawawa and field hospital beds for Petawawa.
  • What’s Canada (not) Buying (yet)?  More on the Sea King replacement delay  “As the Canadian Forces were getting ready to welcome their long-awaited fleet of new maritime helicopters, they modified the landing deck on HMCS Regina. The move was essential to ensure the new CH-148 Cyclones could safely land on the frigate in turbulent waters, as the state-of-the-art aircraft have a different landing configuration than the nearly 50-year-old Sea Kings that have been flown off the vessel for decades. However, a new round of delays in the delivery of the Sikorsky aircraft has forced the military to go back on the modifications to HMCS Regina. Turning back the clock, the military has had to get the vessel ready to again welcome old Sea Kings on its deck, government sources said Monday ….” – still more here.
  • Syria  Supporting the fight in the old country in Canada’s basements  “The basement of a house in Oakville, Ont., among the kids’ toys and balloons, looks like an unusual place to find a nerve centre for the Syrian revolution. But it’s down here that Louay Sakka, 37, stays awake late into the evening with his laptop and tablet computer, mapping and cross-referencing reports from his comrades in the Free Syrian Army. A telecommunications engineer at a leading tech company, he serves as an executive member of the Syrian Support Group, which represents the rebel army. He flew into Washington this month for key meetings with government officials about whether the United States will supply arms or other assistance to the revolution. (So far, Washington appears reluctant.) ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  How one Canadian soldier celebrated Canada Day with his colleagues
  • Afghanistan (2a)  Alternate Title:  Still Not Willing to Let Go, Even When Individuals Have Been Exonerated  “The Military Police Complaints Commission’s report made public last week – the latest chapter in the Afghan detainees controversy – makes an important point, one that ought to have been obvious: Canadian military police officers on foreign missions should be enabled by their superior officers to understand what is going on around them, to help them navigate the pitfalls of human-rights violations, international law and, in a word, a foreign country’s complex politics. Frustratingly, the underlying issues – the most compelling questions – of whether Afghan detainees were handed over to be tortured by some of their fellow Afghans, and whether Canadians were negligent in letting that happen, remain mysterious. In other words, it is still unknown whether Canadians were involved in war crimes ….”
  • Afghanistan (2b)  Another commentator’s take  “By shutting down the inquiry into whether Taliban prisoners were tortured when turned over to Afghan authorities by Canadian soldiers, the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) did only what was sensible. The whole ruckus was an issue hyped by the Globe and Mail whose reports on the MPCC decision referred to the Harper government being “rocked by bombshell allegations” five years ago that Canada knowingly transferred prisoners to be tortured. “Rocked by bombshell allegations,” indeed! What rubbish. To the Globe’s surprise and disappointment, no one really gave a damn about happened to captured Taliban fighters once they left Canadian custody ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Terry Glavin: “In Afghanistan, Barack Obama’s peace-talks & troops-out “policy” is forcing the country’s democrats, reformists, women’s rights leaders, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and many other ethnic groups to focus on the single and urgent objective of hunkering down for the moment the knives come out ….”
  • Way Up North (1)  The Canadian Forces’ push to boost its presence in the Arctic is fueling the need for new equipment, ranging from stealthy snowmobiles to UAVs that can operate in the remote region. Other companies are preparing to bid on the Canadian Army’s project to buy a new fleet of all-terrain vehicles for operations in the north. The Army’s commander, Lt. Gen. Peter Devlin, said efforts to improve Arctic capabilities are progressing well, and that 800 Canadian soldiers conducted exercises in Norway in February and March. But increasing presence in such regions will require support from industry with new equipment, as well as help with logistics ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  “Canada’s current government made a lot of noise in 2006 and 2007, calling for a total overhaul of Canada’s military presence in the Arctic. Is Canada really on its way to becoming an Arctic military power, or was that all said in the heat of the electoral moment asks Zachary Fillingham of the Geopoliticalmonitor ….”
  • Way Up North (3)  A bit of a reminder about one of the elements of “owning” (or even understanding) Canada’s North  “…. There are precious few ties that bind the far reaches of this country to its urban centres. Few opportunities exist for most Canadians, especially young Canadians, to experience the rural and remote dimensions of a country that is much too big for words. Katimavik was one. It is no more. And as Canada’s population streams steadily toward our big cities, we stand to forget the spaces between — and the people who make our country whole ….”
  • Catching up a bit, another G20 Toronto dude gets jail time  “A man who has been described by police as a ringleader in a conspiracy to cause destruction and damage during the G20 protests accepts that he deserves to be in prison but claims he was “bullied into a deal” and accuses the justice system of being “coercive” and “used as a weapon.” Alex Hundert was sentenced to 13.5 months Tuesday at the Ontario Court of Justice on Finch Ave. W. He pleaded guilty in November 2011 to counselling others to commit mischief to property and obstruct police during the summit in June of 2010 ….”  More from the convicted party in his own words here and here, and from other media here.
  • One of Sri Lanka’s top naval officers has fled to Canada but federal officials are refusing to accept his refugee claim on the grounds he was complicit in war crimes during the troubled island’s long civil war against Tamil rebels. Nadarajah Kuruparan was Commodore of the Sri Lanka Navy, third in rank behind the Admiral, when he retired in June 2009 — just weeks after his forces helped defeat the separatist Tamil Tigers in a conflict that left untold civilians dead. On Aug. 4, 2009, he arrived at the Canadian border with his wife and two children and made a refugee claim, a development that has only now emerged with the release of a court ruling on his case. He has apparently lived in Toronto since then. One of only five ethnic Tamil officers in the navy, he said he feared the government, pro-government militias and rebels but the Immigration and Refugee Board ruled he was not a genuine refugee because he was complicit in crimes against humanity. His appeal to the Federal Court of Canada was dismissed on June 13, and he and his family now face deportation to Sri Lanka. The court ruling was significant because it upheld the finding that the Sri Lankan military committed atrocities ….”
  • Twenty years ago Monday, the battle group of the Royal 22nd Regiment (Vandoos), including a large company of infantry from the Royal Canadian Regiment, arrived in Sarajevo to secure the airport – thereby permitting the delivery of international humanitarian aid to that beleaguered city. For the next 30 days, the heroic actions of Canadian soldiers, for the first and last time in history, were the lead international story on every media outlet in the world ….”
  • Remembering Bomber Command’s contribution  “At the end of a long, hot, draining day, there was a tray of cold beer for the Canadian veterans of Bomber Command, and they fell on it like – well, like men who’d been waiting in the sun a long time without a beer. But then they’d been waiting much longer, for something much more important. It had not been a particularly happy wait, either, and many of the 42 veterans arriving at Canada House in London’s Trafalgar Square muttered that it had come too late. Too many of their comrades were no longer around to celebrate what felt like a much-delayed vindication. The vindication was this: Earlier in the day, the Queen had unveiled a memorial to the 125,000 men and women of the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command, almost half of whom didn’t survive their late-night raids over Germany and occupied Europe during the Second World War. Some 50,000 of those fliers were Canadian, and 10,000 of them were lost; many more came from New Zealand and Australia, Poland and Czechoslovakia. For decades, they lived without a memorial to their efforts, and you can still hear grinding of teeth over the fact that Winston Churchill failed to mention Bomber Command in his victory speech ….”

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