Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – November 26, 2012

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  • Afghanistan  A story written in Toronto  “Like a riddle wrapped inside an enigma, you never get to fully understand Afghanistan.  You just learn to work within it and alongside the people.  So says a Canadian career soldier who knows more than most about operating in what is still, for all intents and purposes, one of the most dangerous places on earth.  Maj.-Gen Jim Ferron is five months into his year-long posting as commander of the Canadian Training Mission in Afghanistan and Deputy Commanding General for the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan (NTM-A).  In military parlance it is a double-hatted role: Ferron leads Canada’s contribution of almost 1,000 troops and serves at senior staff level with his NATO colleagues tasked to train an efficient Afghanistan Army able to fight for itself sooner rather than later ….”
  • Canada’s military ombudsman is reviewing whether he has the right to look at cabinet secrets in light of stonewalling from the Harper government during a recent investigation into the care of reservists.  Pierre Daigle’s office ran into roadblocks when it asked for documents related to the inability of National Defence to deliver on a promise to increase dismemberment coverage for part-time soldiers.  Both Defence and the federal Treasury Board declared the records secret because they had been deemed cabinet confidences, a designation that surprised both the ombudsman and his investigators.  Officials working for Daigle were quick to point out they received co-operation on other aspects of the probe, but they are troubled because the declaration has started to surface in other cases as well.  “We’re supposed to have access to everything,” the ombudsman said. “Cabinet confidences have come a few times on other issues.”  The ombudsman said his officials are looking into how far he is able to push the government to co-operate, and precisely what constitutes a cabinet confidence ….”
  • New Democrat MP Sylvain Chicoine wants the speaker to look into a curious incident that apparently went down earlier this week, in which Canadian Forces veteran — and outspoken critic of the government — Sylvain Chartrand was allegedly prevented from attending a public meeting of the defence committee, which is currently studying “the care of ill and injured Canadian Forces members.  UPDATE: It starting to sound like this may have been an unfortunate mixup related to Senate security, and not a deliberate attempt by the government to block Chartrand from the meeting. I’ll let you know if I hear anything else ….”
  • The vast majority of Canadians and Americans think that the world can’t accept a nuclear-armed Iran, according to a new poll.  Nine out of ten people polled in both countries said they agreed with the statement “the world cannot tolerate an Iran with nuclear weapons capability,” according to an Ipsos Reid survey conducted on behalf of The Munk Debates. Just over 2,000 Canadians and Americans were polled.  The results, 92 per cent of people in agreement with the statement, were the same for respondents both north and south of the border.  The degree to which Canada’s views on Iran mirrored those polled in the United States surprised Rudyard Griffiths, co-organizer and moderator for The Munk Debates — a semi-annual contest of debates on issues facing the world and Canada.  Canada’s role in past governments has always been to try to be a broker between conflicting sides in the Middle East, Griffiths said.  “Since Harper was elected as Prime Minister, foreign policy has shifted to be very much supportive of Israel’s position…and I think it brought public opinion with them,” said Griffiths ….”
  • Senator on why Canada needs to beef up its Radarsat “eyes in the sky”  “…. At the moment Canada gets a lot more intelligence from “Five Eyes,” our intelligence allies — the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand — than we contribute to them. Providing better satellite coverage of the western hemisphere would help right that balance, as the satellites scan north-south, from the Arctic to the Antarctic.  MDA says that the United States is interested in purchasing as many as six Constellations if the project goes ahead. That would mean more great jobs for Canadians were that to happen.  Yet despite this and all the other aforementioned benefits to Canada, we find ourselves today inching ever closer to the point of no-return. MDA and its subcontractors have done well to contain the job losses and keep the project alive while it waits for further funding, but mark my words: If Dec. 13 comes and goes and no money is allocated, Canada will be the poorer.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that.”
  • Finally starting to share some documents  “The RCMP has been ordered by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to quickly rework a plan to address gender bias in the forceIn a letter obtained by CBC News, Toews is demanding that RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson rewrite a report addressing gender inequality in the force.  Toews expresses frustration that he did not receive an action plan from Paulson that “we (you and I, the RCMP and the Government) could present to Canadians.” Instead, Toews only received an analysis of the existing situation within the force ….” – more (without a link to the letter) here and here.

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26 November 12 at 7:45

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