Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – November 7, 2012

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  • Remembering (1)  Remember where you read it first – almost exactly a year ago  The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, along with the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, announced …. the creation of the Memorial Ribbon. The Memorial Ribbon will be offered to close family and friends of deceased Canadian Forces (CF) members as a memento of personal loss and sacrifice …. Memorial Ribbons may be issued in commemoration of every CF member whose death is attributed to injury or illness sustained on or after October 1, 1947, due to military service. This date coincides with the first date inscribed in Veterans Affairs Canada’s Seventh Book of Remembrance ….” – more on the ribbon here, and some backstory & comments over at
  • Remembering (2)  Veterans Affairs Minister hosts movie night  “In honor of Veterans’ Week, the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, hosted more than 200 people, including Canadian Veterans and Canadian Armed Forces personnel, at a special screening of HISTORY’S documentary, Dieppe Uncovered, at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.  In August, the Minister joined with Canadian Veterans of the Dieppe Raid for the world premiere of the documentary in Dieppe, France, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Raid. During the trip, the Minister and the Veterans also visited Dieppe, which marked the first time many of the Veterans had set foot on the beach since they landed there 70 years ago ….”
  • Remembering (3)  From’s latest update e-mail  “…. Later this week we will be releasing new polling numbers on the views of young people about Remembrance Day. You might be surprised by the results! ….”  We wait with bated breath.
  • NDP Messaging on “We want to help vets, too” (1)  From the NDP critic for vets affairs:  “…. New Democrats are leading the way with practical proposals to improve the care of our military and RCMP veterans and their families. For many years, we have proposed the following: end the clawback of retired and disabled CF and RCMP service pensions; expand the Veterans Independence Program to all veterans, including widows and the RCMP; and grant veterans’ “marriage after 60” pension and health benefits ….”
  • NDP Messaging on “We want to help vets, too” (2)  NDP MP in the House of Commons yesterday“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank our veterans and active military personnel and their families for their sacrifices in defence of Canada and our values.  New Democrats have always fought for improved rights for those who serve our country. We fought for DND and RCMP personnel to end the pension clawback. Together we succeeded.  This recent victory is to be celebrated, but clearly our work is not finished when it comes to making sure that our veterans and their families are able to live and retire in dignity ….”
  • More on vets deserving more money for funerals  “….  The cost of improving the funeral allowance for low-income veterans has been pegged at $5 million to $7 million a year.  Compare that cost with the $28 million worth of historical hoopla the federal Conservatives spent this year on the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, with ceremonies and battle re-enactments aimed at what? Annoying our American neighbours?  It is not that the anniversary should have been ignored, but $28 million is a lot for a glorified history lesson.  One wonders whether this government can grasp its appalling confusion of priorities, compared with its obligation, on behalf of Canadian taxpayers, to provide low-income veterans with the dignity of a decent final salute.”
  • VA Minister’s messaging in the House of Commons on vets’ funeral costs  (from Hansard here and here)    “…. When talking about funeral and burial assistance, we are providing this program to more than 10,000 veterans. I can assure the member that, unlike the Liberals, we will not cut this program and, unlike the NDP, whenever there is a program for veterans we will support it, as long as we are taking care of veterans and making sure we are making their lives better …. let me get to the very substance of the funeral and burial program. It is a program that is provided to veterans in need. Since 2006 this program has been provided to 10,000 veterans and their families.  I can assure the member of one thing. We on this side of the House will not cut this program, like the Liberals did ….
  • John de Chastelain knows all about belt tightening.  He was Canada’s chief of defence staff in 1989.  The Cold War had ended. Canada faced a severe deficit.  It was time for Ottawa to make cuts and the 1989 federal budget came down like a large axe on the Department of National Defence.  CFB Summerside, at the time home to anti-submarine and coastal patrol aircraft, was identified as a candidate for the chopping block. In 1991, the base was closed and the majority of military units were transferred to CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia.  De Chastelain fought unsuccessfully to keep Canadian forces stationed in Europe. Instead, those organizations were moved back to Canada and absorbed into a Force that was already being reduced.  …. Canada’s newly minted top military commander, Gen. Tom Lawson, has also been told trimming will take place under his command.  … De Chastelain, who attended the change of command ceremony Monday, says he is “sensitive to what Tom is going through.’’  He agrees with Lawson’s assessment that there’s not much fat to cut, particularly when it comes to combat units.  “The difficulty is that having made the cuts that we did 20 years ago, there are not too many bases you can close now,’’ said de Chastelain.  “There are no troops to withdraw from Europe now. And we do have these capital acquisition programs — new ships and new aircraft – coming up. So, yeah, it’s going to be tough.’’  De Chastlain is hopeful Canadian Forces will be able to continue to carry on out of area operations for a reasonable period of time, rather than simply set up a headquarters and then leave the work to others, which Canada has had to do before, he notes, with UN operations in the Middle East and Lebanon ….”
  • Way Up North  New paper out from the Library of Parliament:  “The Arctic: Organizations Involved in Circumpolar Cooperation”
  • Robert Kaplan, a former veteran Liberal MP and cabinet minister, died Monday at age 75 after losing a long battle with cancer.  Kaplan is probably best known for his 1980-84 stint as Canada’s solicitor general, when he presided over the demise of the RCMP’s disgraced security service and the creation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service ….” – tribute/mention in the House of Commons yesterday here.

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7 November 12 at 7:45

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