MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – November 10, 2012
- Joshua Baker, 1985-2010, R.I.P. “Major Darryl Watts will face a General Court Martial commencing November 13, 2012, in relation to the death of Corporal Joshua Baker and the injury of four other soldiers on a training range in Afghanistan in February 2010 ….”
- Remembering (1) References to Afghanistan in the Governor General’s/Commander-in-Chief’s Remembrance Day message: zero. To be fair, there were no such mentions last year, either, or the year before.
- Remembering (2) “On behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Mr. Royal Galipeau, Member of Parliament for Ottawa–Orléans, will join His Excellency Hee-yong Cho, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea for Canada, for a special ceremony to pay tribute to Canadian men and women who served in the Korean War ….”
- Remembering (3) “Long after the poppies were collected from the War Memorial last November, though the winter, spring, summer and fall, the silent enumeration of those who died for their country continued online. At 11 minutes past every hour, every day of every week, for the past year, the name of one of Canada’s war dead was selected at random by a computer algorithm and recited on Twitter. The “We Are The Dead” project, sponsored by the Ottawa Citizen, begins a second year of honouring Canada’s fallen through social media, helping make remembrance a solemn constant that stretches beyond a single day in November ….”
- Remembering (4) “The majority of younger Canadians believe honouring veterans and soldiers killed in war is the most important aspect of Remembrance Day, with the least important aspect being celebrating this country’s military achievements. That’s among the findings of a unique survey of 1,004 Canadians aged 18 to 30 conducted by Abacus Data on behalf of the Rideau Institute, an Ottawa-based think tank. In fact, respondents were much more likely to say Remembrance Day should be a reminder of the need for peace than to say it’s a day in which Canada’s victories at Vimy Ridge, Normandy and Kapyong should be highlighted. Rideau Institute president Steven Staples believed the findings should come as a warning to those who might want to inject more pro-military messaging into Remembrance Day ceremonies. This is especially important given that only 47 per cent of respondents said they planned to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony or otherwise observe the day ….”
- Remembering (5) “On behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Michelle Rempel, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre-North, will join with representatives of the Canadian Football League, the Department of National Defence, Veterans’ organization and others to honour Canada’s Veterans during a pre-game ceremony at the CFL semi-final game in Calgary ….”
- Remembering (6) “The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, issued the following statement today regarding the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele ….”
- “An investigation by Canada’s veterans ombudsman into a controversial breach of privacy was quietly shut down last year on the instructions of Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney, newly released documents reveal. Blaney asked the ombudsman to discontinue a probe that his predecessor had ordered in January 2011, after the confidential medical information of veterans advocate Sean Bruyea was spread around the department in an alleged smear campaign. Information from a psychiatrist’s letter was stitched into a ministerial briefing note at the same time Bruyea, an outspoken critic, was publicly criticizing a controversial overhaul of veterans benefits in 2006. Former veterans minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn asked the ombudsman to investigate Bruyea’s privacy breach, even though the office of the privacy commissioner was already looking in to what happened. The hope was the ombudsman would get to the bottom of why the personal information of Bruyea and others was rifled through by bureaucrats — motives that were not the focus of the overarching privacy audit by commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. But in July 2011, just two months after Blackburn went down to electoral defeat, Blaney — Blackburn’s replacement at the cabinet table — wrote to ombudsman Guy Parent to ask that the probe be halted ….”
- “Canada’s largest veterans facility is under fire from several families with complaints their frail relatives have been neglected or forced to endure unsanitary conditions. They also say raising concerns at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre — among them delayed bathing and feeding, soiled sheets, dead mice in rooms, a lack of toilet paper, and constant room and caregiver changes — were mostly met with indifference or hostility. “It’s appalling what’s going on in the veterans’ wing of Sunnybrook,” says Rodney Burnell, whose 92-year-old father George lives on the spartan 3rd floor of K-Wing. “They fought for us and it’s our turn to fight for them.” For its part, Sunnybrook suggests the complaints are coming from a handful of malcontents. The facility points to surveys showing sector-leading levels of patient and family satisfaction. Complaints, it says, are taken seriously, investigated and acted on as required. “We want every veteran to get the best care possible,” says medical director, Dr. Jocelyn Charles ….”
- Poooooooor Veterans Affairs Minister ….
- “A new Defence Department report shows the Royal Canadian Navy stretched thin over the past year as aging ships were forced to into dry-dock for maintenance and refits to keep them floating. The repairs were scheduled and the report says the navy was able to do its job despite having fewer ships available. But the revelations highlight the pressure the federal government, shipbuilding industry, but especially navy commanders are under to start cutting steel on replacement vessels in the coming years as the existing fleet continues getting older. According to the report, tabled in the House of Commons on Thursday, the biggest challenge facing the navy was when its two support ships, the HMCS Protecteur and Preserver, went into maintenance at the same time. Both vessels are nearly 50 years old and were supposed to start being replaced this year, but design and money concerns have delayed delivery of the first new joint support ship until at least spring 2018. The report describes the supply ships as “integral” to the navy’s ability to do its job, and says the repairs were essential to keep them operational. But because of their absence in late 2011 and early 2012, the navy was forced to turn to allies for help replenishing other Canadian vessels at sea until the re-supply ships came back online. Similarly, planned maintenance and scheduled refits reduced the number of Halifax-class frigates and Iroquois-class destroyers naval commanders had at their disposal, making it more difficult to respond to an emergency ….”
- Way Up North Delay in satellite system to help monitor the North confirmed “The federal government has admitted that its ambitious plan to launch a series of satellites to monitor Canadian territory from space starting in 2014 has been delayed by at least two years. The delay is significant as the Defence Department has previously warned that the satellites had to be in place by 2015 at the latest or Canada would be left without any space-based surveillance capability. The Radarsat Constellation Mission, as the series of three satellites and associated ground-based stations is called, was initially announced in 2005 and highlighted during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip to the Arctic in 2010. It is designed to replace the existing Radarsat-2 surveillance satellite and provide complete coverage of Canada’s land and oceans. But it has since run into controversy. The project’s estimated costs have ballooned from $600 million to $854.8 million over the past couple of years, while some within the space industry questioned the Conservatives’ commitment to it. The Harper government has maintained it is moving ahead on the constellation, and officials with British Columbia-based MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) confirmed last week they have been in contact with the Canadian Space Agency on moving ahead. But confirmation of the two-year delay is contained in several separate documents tabled in the House of Commons over the past week. “The launch of the first satellite is planned to occur in fiscal year 2016-2017, followed a year later by the other two satellites,” reads an Industry Canada response to an Order Paper question posed by NDP MP Helene LeBlanc. “Delays were caused by unexpected difficulties during the critical design phase.” ….”
- “Terrorists are ready to target Canadian IT networks with Internet-based attacks, the RCMP warned Thursday, adding the force needed to better its ability to combat this emerging threat. “One area that requires improved capabilities is countering cyber-threats to national security,” the Mounties wrote in the force’s annual review. “Terrorist groups have expressed interest in developing the capabilities for computer-based attacks against Canada’s critical infrastructure.” The Mounties are not alone in their concerns about cyber-security. f the 95 departmental performance reports released Thursday that reference cyber-security, there is a sense that the government took some steps in the 2011-2012 fiscal year that are really first steps towards addressing a need for digital security resources and capabilities ….”
- “Intelligence communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border were rocked Friday by news of the unexpected resignation of CIA director David Petraeus over an extra-marital affair. Petraeus disclosed the affair in a memo to CIA staff on Friday afternoon, telling them “such behaviour is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours ….”
- “It’s been nearly seven decades since the Allied and Axis soldiers laid down their arms but the Canadian government still has a tiny sum set aside to pay Second World War reparations, according to newly released federal documents. Exactly $4,236 remain in the War Claims Fund, the 2011 Public Accounts report. The fund was created in 1952 to award damages to prisoners of war and people who suffered injury or property loss at the hands of the Canadian Forces. The remaining money would scarcely pay any new abuse claims. The public accounts show the money hasn’t been touched since 1995. “It’s probably just whatever was left over after the money was paid out,” said Finance Department spokesperson Jack Aubry. “What’s important is that the people who suffered received some sort of compensation.” ….”