Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – November 6, 2012

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  • Remembering (1)  Deja vu all over again with the Memorial Ribbon
  • Remembering (2)  Kicking off Veterans’ Week:  “The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and Eve Adams, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, will join the Honourable Roméo Dallaire, Senator and Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, and Member of Parliament Greg Kerr, Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, for a wreath-laying ceremony paying tribute to the service and sacrifices of Canadian Veterans ….”
  • Remembering (3)  Conservative Party of Canada talking points about Veteran’s Week
  • Remembering (4)  From the Minister of Defence’s statement going into Veterans Week:  “Every year during Veterans’ Week, we honour our Canadian Forces veterans – especially those who lost their lives while serving their country.  Our veterans have fought to maintain the freedoms we enjoy, to bring peace to people in far-away lands, and to ensure a better future for our children and grandchildren.  Since Confederation, two million Canadian soldiers, sailors, air personnel and special forces have served their country overseas, and more than 110,000 men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.  The Canadian Forces are proud to be part of a legacy that has been built by our nation’s veterans, who shaped the leadership and professionalism of those who serve today. The men and women of today’s Canadian Forces carry on their proud tradition of service ….”             
  • Remembering (5)  “On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada will begin circulating a new $20 bill made of polymer instead of paper.  The new bill pays tribute to the contributions and sacrifices of Canadian men and women in all military conflicts and is being released just before Remembrance Day.  The note features a view of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on its back ….” – more here
  • Remembering (6)  From the Vets’ Ombudsman’s message:  “Today marks the beginning of Veterans’ Week in Canada. From November 5-11, from coast-to-coast-to-coast, Canadians will honour the men and women who have served our country selflessly in times of peace and conflict.  Through their service, our Veterans have ensured the protection of our values and our way of life. This week, we recognize their commitment to our country through hundreds of commemorative activities and events in cities and towns across the nation.  Veterans Affairs Canada has compiled a list of ways to acknowledge our Veterans, as well as a list of Veterans’ Week events across Canada ….”
  • Afghanistan “In the Catholic tradition, a requiem is a mass for the dead: A solemn ritual that uses music and poetry to lift the souls of those who have passed and comfort relatives and loved ones left behind among the living. Suzanne Steele, the first poet ever chosen to be part of the Canadian Forces’ Artists Program, wondered how best to bring that sense of elevated repose to those who have witnessed the war in Afghanistan.  “I felt that I wanted to explore this for a post-religious generation. I wanted to write a requiem for them,” she said. “There is great comfort in ritual, and this is an old ritual.”  The result, Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation — will debut in Calgary on Nov. 10 ….”   
  • How much Canada pays to subsidize the burial of vets appears to be gaining media traction  “Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney, who championed improvements to a federal burial fund for impoverished ex-soldiers, was put in the awkward position Monday of defending his own government’s inaction and the fact that over two-thirds of applicants are rejected.  The Last Post Fund, an independent agency that administers a federal funeral and grave-marker program for poor veterans, has turned down 67 per cent of the applications submitted since 2006.  Both the fund and Blaney’s own department have lobbied the Harper government to re-define the eligibility criteria and to increase the $3,600 stipend given to families who do qualify, but to no avail.  Blaney says unlike the previous Liberal government, the Conservatives have not cut the fund.  “This is a program for which we have maintained benefits, contrary to the former Liberal government, which made cuts to this program,” Blaney told reporters following a ceremony in the Senate to mark the beginning of veterans week. “Our firm intention is to maintain this program. We are covering all the funeral and burial costs and we will keep on this way.” ….” – more from Question Period in the House of Commons yesterday here and here.
  • More on the Last Post fund  “…. Liberal veterans affairs critic Sean Casey called the current funding “stingy and cheap and hard-hearted,” and asked the feds Monday to create a task force to look into fixing the fund.  Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney shot down Casey’s proposal as more unnecessary bureaucracy and jabbed the Liberals for halving the means test in 1995 from $24,034 to the current level.  “They’re the ones who cut this program,” he said. “We’ve maintained the benefits.”  He added the concerns with the Last Post Fund were on his radar and the government was looking at ways to improve it, but said he was in no position to confirm any changes or offer any further details on the department’s plans ….” – more here.
  • One editorial on vets funeral costs  “…. The fund’s executive director, Jean-Pierre Goyer, said in a recent interview that the agency has been petitioning the government to overhaul the eligibility rules and to increase the stipend, but that its pleas have been fobbed off on the grounds that this is not among the government’s current budgetary priorities. Goyer estimated that meeting the fund’s requests for increased aid and enlarged eligibility would cost between $5 million and $7 million a year.  This is surely not a staggering sum for a government whose priorities have included spending millions on refurbishing local war memorials. But then, their unveiling makes for splendid photo ops for Conservative politicos, as opposed to funerals for destitute veterans. More important, too, it seems, in terms of spending priorities, has been the glorification of the long-ago War of 1812 on which the Harper government saw fit to spend $28 million, not to mention the $17 million that it is currently blowing on self-back-patting TV ads vaunting its Canada’s Economic Action Plan.  The discrepancy between these extravagances and the skinflint response to the pleas of veterans’ organizations for increased assistance for dignified funerals for their deceased comrades is nothing short of shameful ….” – another editorial along the same lines hereand here.
  • Niiiiiiiiiiiice….  “A 29-year-old man is accused of stealing Remembrance Day poppy boxes from four different businesses in this southern Ontario town.  Police said they were able to identify the suspect with the help of video surveillance. The poppy boxes had been reported stolen from three Tim Hortons locations and a Wendy’s restaurant.  The man is charged with three counts of theft and one count of breach of recognizance.  He remains in custody.  And a 22-year-old Tillsonburg, Ont., man faces theft charges after removing a poppy donation box ifrom a Delhi, Ont., liquor store ….”
  • A new Flickr feed full of CF Info-machine photos from a whole swack of operations – worth a look here
  • An RCMP bomb disposal team has detonated a suspicious package that had been left outside a Tsawwassen, B.C., home which had led to the evacuation of several other homes in the area.  The package was found about 2:30 p.m PT Monday afternoon in the 1300-block of Farrell Avenue in the Beach Grove area.  1300 farrell Ave. Tsawwassen, B.C.  Delta Police spokesman Ciaran Feenan said the RCMP conducted a controlled explosion of the package, and early indications are that the contents did pose a danger.  “It was believed to be an explosive device,” Feenan told CBC News ….”
  • India’s junior foreign minister used a meeting with Stephen Harper to voice her country’s continued anxiety about what it considers resurgent support in Canada for a separatist Sikh state in the Punjab region.  It’s the latest in a string of efforts by Indian authorities, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to press Ottawa to stay vigilant about Sikhs in Canada who favour the establishment of Khalistan …. Mr. Harper, for his part Tuesday, assured the Indian minister that Canada was firmly behind New Delhi on the subject of Khalistan.  “In terms of the specific concerns that you raised, let me just be very clear, and I know I speak broadly for Canadians,” Mr. Harper “Canada is a very strong supporter of a united India. This is a view that is shared not just widely in Canada but very widely and very mainstream among our Indo-Canadian community.””
  • Buying Canadian IT =/= perfect IT security  “No matter where the pieces of a new federal email system is built or developed, any commercial product will come with vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to find a way into the government’s systems, Canada’s top cyber spies say.  High-ranking officials in the Communications Security Establishment, the government’s ultra-secretive cyber-security agency, told a Senate committee Monday that it will help evaluate every piece of hardware that will go into the government’s new email system.  The department responsible for the system, Shared Services Canada, has already invoked national security provisions for the purchase of the system that will service more than 40 of the government’s heaviest IT-dependent departments. As part of the contract, first put out over the summer and updated late last week, the government will have the right to evaluate every company and person involved in the project, and the system must be made in Canada.  Under questioning from Conservative Senator Daniel Lang, the head of IT security for the cyber-intelligence agency suggested that buying local was not a surefire bet that the system will be safe from foreign threats.  “All commercial products have some vulnerability in them,” said Toni Moffa, deputy chief at CSE. “As we find those vulnerabilities we find ways…to mitigate some of those vulnerabilities.” ….”
  • Three Victoria Cross medals awarded to Canadian soldiers from Winnipeg’s Pine Street, later renamed Valour Road, have been reunited at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.  Heritage Minister James Moore unveiled the trio of medals, which will be housed in the Royal Canadian Legion of Honour, on Monday morning. The medals were awarded to Company Sergeant Major Federick William Hall, Corporal Leo Clarke, and Lieutenant Robert Shankland, who all lived on a single block in Winnipeg.  “The men were of different ages, they served in different military units, and they were recognized for heroism in different battles,” said Moore on Monday ….” – more here.

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6 November 12 at 7:45

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