MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – November 16, 2012
- What the politicians say about defence spending “Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Thursday that the Canadian Forces will do its part to help the federal government balance the books by cutting administration and exploring new partnerships with foreign allies. That may be easier said than done, however, as military officials have been quietly fretting over a very public order delivered by Prime Minister Stephen Harper late last month that the Defence Department focus on “more teeth and less tail.” ….”
- What it means for (at least part of) the sharp end “With a volatile federal budget still in the red, cuts are being made across the country, including at CFB Edmonton, where a multitude of issues are currently being faced. According to Lieut.-Col. John Reiffenstein, base commander at CFB Edmonton, the local base is seeing cuts of more than 50% to its operations and maintenance budget. Reiffenstein said that, as a result of the new budget, some programs will have to be cut. “Whereas before we relied on commissionaires… to provide security in a couple of spots, that ate up a considerable portion of my budget,” he said at the Fort Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon. “We can’t do that anymore, so we’ve got to figure out what risks we can assume in terms of, say, roving patrols; what risks we can assume in terms of having a soldier who’s also a clerk, keeping an eye on the front entrance to a building — things like that. “We cannot continue to spend money the way we were spending it while we were fighting the war in Afghanistan. Those days are over and our job in uniform is to get on with it.” Although it has not yet been confirmed, Reiffenstein said that programs associated with areas such as the family resource centre, which provides services like daycare, could be some that see cuts. “We’re still working through that. I am concerned,” Reiffenstein said ….”
- Remember these complaints about how some vets are being treated at Sunnybrook’s vets’ facility in Toronto? It appears someone’s got some ‘splain’ to do…. “Relatives concerned about the care their frail loved ones are receiving at Canada’s largest veterans facility said they were pleased Ottawa had sent in an inspector. At the same time, they said they were skeptical about the impact the move would have on care levels at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre. “I think it’s great, but now they’re going to be prepared for it and everything is going to be bustling clean and everything is going to be all fine,” said Rodney Burnell, who’s ailing father George has been at Sunnybrook for three years. “This inspector should go without them knowing. They’re going to be put on a big show.” …. the office of Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney said he was immediately dispatching a “senior official” to look into the complaints. Sunnybrook spokesman, Craig DuHamel, said inspectors visited the unit on Friday. “They didn’t express any concerns,” DuHamel said. “I think they were satisfied with the care we’re providing.” …. Even though it operates in Ontario — which has a nursing-home inspection regimen and regulations enacted in 2007 related to long-term care standards — the veterans facility does not fall under the province’s scope ….”
- More on Sunnybrook…. “The federal government has ordered a thorough audit of the country’s largest veterans facility following complaints from family members about substandard care, The Canadian Press has learned. A senior official, who requested anonymity, said Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney gave the order on Thursday after hearing the “disturbing” allegations of neglect of frail vets at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre. The audit would focus both on how taxpayers’ money is being spent and on the quality of the care provided, the official said. “We’re just trying to make sure that what veterans are getting there is of top-notch quality,” he said from Ottawa. “We want to make sure we’re basing our action on credible evidence; the audit is the only tool to allow us to really determine what’s going on the ground there.” The official said the aim is to have the audit completed by early next year. It will be as thorough and as detailed as possible, include conversations with relatives of patients, and the results would be made public, he said ….”
- Remember Trevor Greene, who survived and continues to recover from an axe to the head during a shura in Afghanistan? Here’s your chance to click and vote to help a school get him get some quasi-robotic hardware that’ll help him walk– vote now, vote often.
- Someone identifying himself as a CBC radio producer is looking for reservists and families dealing with PTSD via Milnet.ca – and is learning how the perceived actions/decisions of some of his colleagues may be poisoning his well, too, rightly or wrongly.
- Israel Nails Bad Guys in Gaza (1) In case you haven’t heard, Israel’s nailed a major bad guy in Gaza – more at the IDF’s English-language blog here.
- Israel Nails Bad Guys in Gaza (2) “The rain of rockets, and talk of an Israeli military incursion into Gaza, presents the Harper government with the first significant test of its newly negotiated defence partnership with Israel. But Defence Minister Peter MacKay cautioned Thursday that Canada wants to see cooler heads prevail in the escalating conflict. Over the last two years, officials in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have been given private assurances that Ottawa was behind them. MacKay went so far as to say in 2011 that “a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada.” The two countries have signed a memorandum of understanding covering defence and industrial initiatives, as well as information-sharing. The agreement is non-binding, unlike the NATO charter which requires member states to come to each other’s defence. Netanyahu has long said Israel will manage its own defence, and MacKay played down the potential impact of the agreement in the current crisis. “We’re very far away from any such decision-making,” he said in an interview, prior to the start of the Halifax International Security Summit. “What we want to continue to do is appeal for calm, appeal for diplomacy, discussions.” ….”
- Israel Nails Bad Guys in Gaza (3) “Escalating violence between Israel and militants in Gaza could be the “spark” that ignites more serious conflict, Defence Minister Peter MacKay says. Rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israel, including in a fatal attack on Thursday, and Israel’s assassination of a prominent Hamas leader and ongoing airstrikes have many fearing broader military action. “The last 24 hours have demonstrated the degree of volatility that people in the region are facing,” MacKay said in an interview Thursday. “Having a rocket strike so close to Tel Aviv, lives lost. This is the type of spark that can have all kinds of extremely serious consequences in a region that … some would describe as on a slow boil,” he said ….”
- Libya “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, accompanied by the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Associate Minister of National Defence, Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie) and Member of Parliament for Madawaska-Restigouche, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, and other senior military leaders will award NATO service medals to 210 Canadian Forces (CF) members who served as part of Operation Unified Protector (later this morning in Halifax) ….”
- Ceasefire.ca on “Why is Canada going soft on cluster bombs?”
- Remembering (1) You can run (and kick over flags), but you can’t hide…. “(Toronto) Police are looking to charge a man with mischief after he allegedly kicked over Canadian flags at the Sunnybrook hospital cenotaph on Remembrance Day. They say the man was jogging past the hospital grounds on Bayview Ave. south of Lawrence Ave. E. around 2:30 p.m. Sunday when he allegedly kicked down some of the flags displayed for ceremonies. The man was photographed giving a finger gesture to onlookers. The image was posted to the Toronto forum on the website Reddit, by a user who said the flags were sold for a Legion fundraiser.” More from the Toronto Sun here.
- Remembering (2) The Repatriation Memorial hasn’t been up for very long, and already this…. “Residents in Trenton, Ont., have expressed outrage and disgust after an Afghan war memorial was vandalized only days after Remembrance Day services. The incident, which took place early Wednesday morning, has evoked a strong community response. Home to CFB Trenton, the military plays a strong role in the community of 20,000. A furious Quinte West Mayor John Williams said he’s received hundreds of emails and notes from residents upset by the recent vandalism attack. “I’ve heard people on talk-back radio asking what the punishment should be,” he said. “We should set an example when we catch the individual responsible for this. There’s just no excuse.” Two CCTV images from the memorial’s site have been released showing a man with a baseball cap destroying flowers and plants at the Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial, then walking away ….”
- Remembrance (3) “Remembrance Day 2012: A bit of Canada in Djibouti”
- New senior Chief Warrant Officer for the RCAF
- “The fourth quadrennial Military Judges Compensation Committee report on the compensation of military judges is now available on the Department of National Defence website ….” – check for the report here.