Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – December 13, 2012

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  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Back to square one/hit the reset/whatever the heck you want to call it – more coming up in “What’s Canada Buying?” later today
  • In other news, “The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, along with representatives from the True Patriot Love Foundation and the Canadian National Railway Company (CN) …. announced two new initiatives to further support Veterans as they transition to civilian life. The first, the new Veterans Transition Advisory Council, will bring together industry leaders and government with the goal of helping Veterans transition into meaningful jobs in the private sector …. Led by the True Patriot Love Foundation, the council will include representatives from leading national companies who will work to raise awareness of the skill sets Veterans have to offer to the private sector. The council will also provide strategic recommendations to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and to the broader private sector to improve the transition from military to civilian employment ….True Patriot Love will host the inaugural meeting of the Veterans Transition Advisory Council during the first-ever Battlefield to Boardroom Conference in Toronto on January 29, 2013. The conference will see HR executives from corporate Canada gather to learn more about the value of military Veterans.  Minister Blaney also announced that his department has created a new way to connect Veterans with private sector job opportunities. Through the Jobs-Emplois initiative, corporations who have the desire to hire Veterans, like CN, will share employment opportunities with Veterans Affairs Canada who will ensure that Veterans hear about these positions …. In addition to the council, the Jobs-Emplois initiative will allow Veterans Affairs Canada to receive and distribute private sector job opportunities for releasing CAF personnel and Veterans. The Department will promote these opportunities to Veterans and releasing CAF personnel through a number of channels, including VAC employees who work with Veterans and transitioning CAF personnel, and through the Canadian Armed Forces. Organizations interested in hiring recently released Veterans are encouraged to e-mail employment opportunities to ….” – more here.
  • Syria(1)  “Canada will contribute another $15 million in humanitarian aid to help Syria’s neighbours cope with the overflow of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the country’s civil war.  But Canada will wait before following some of its major allies in formally conferring recognition on the Syrian opposition.  Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced the extra funds at a large international meeting in Morocco with the Syrian opposition.  Canada will give Jordan an additional $5 million on top of the $6.5 million Baird announced on a trip to the country earlier this year.  Canada also contributed another $10 million to the international agencies working on the Syrian refugee crisis, bringing its total contribution to $22 million.  Baird also said the government would give Jordan $1.5 million worth of protective personal equipment to guard against a potential chemical or biological weapons attack in Syria ….” – more from the Foreign Affairs Info-machine here.
  • Syria (2)  Canadian think-tank paper:  “Turkey Doesn’t Need Article V NATO Support to Defend Itself Against Syria” (PDF)
  • Mali  “Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has cancelled a trip to Mali after the African nation’s ruling military junta forced the country’s prime minister to resign Tuesday.  Once one of Africa’s most stable and vibrant countries, Mali has been in turmoil since a coup ousted the democratically-elected government in March. Islamic militants took control of the northern half of the country a few weeks later.  The most recent blow to Mali’s political stability came Tuesday, when Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra was forced to resign after he was arrested trying to leave the country for France ….” – more of the latest out of Mali here (Google News) and here (European Commission news aggregator).
  • Canada’s Foreign Minister on North Korea’s missile/satellite launchBAAAAAAD North Korea!
  • Afghanistan  Lessons from the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team about balancing security and diplomatic outreach  “…. Vastly outnumbered, the civilian staffers were unable to circulate freely beyond the compound gates. Pre-clearance was necessary to leave the premises and military escorts were often required. Roaring around the city and surrounding countryside in heavily armed convoys — and arriving at meetings in the company of uniformed guards bristling with weapons — did not make for the initiation of open, free-flowing exchanges.  Under such constraints, non-military members of the mission did not spend as much time in the field as they might have needed to. Result? More bureaucracy, less diplomacy, and long days spent in the gym, or watching videos, or talking with colleagues and writing reports about what might be going on outside.  Diplomats with effective connections to the grassroots should be great sources of intelligence. Clearly, that was not the case in Kandahar. While Canadians slept behind blast walls and razor wire, the Taliban successfully engineered two massive jailbreaks from the Sarposa prison. Cars and taxis reportedly spirited the escapees away undetected over the course of several hours. This all happened despite the fact that the PRT was located nearby, Corrections Canada had staff working inside the facility, and programs related to the prison were listed among Canada’s priority assistance projects.  Not exactly the sort of legacy that the government had hoped for. Yet if Canadian representatives are unable — or unwilling — to swim at large in the sea of the people, they inevitably will be left high and dry, hopelessly beached like fish out of water ….”
  • The constitutionality of Canada’s anti-terror law comes under the microscope Friday when the Supreme Court of Canada delivers a series of major rulings on the legal definition of terrorism.  The high court will rule on a handful of charter challenges brought by a convicted terrorist and two accused terrorists, key among them whether Canada’s post 9-11 anti-terror law violates the constitutional guarantees to freedom of expression, association and religion.  The long-awaited rulings could determine whether the terror legislation needs to be amended or rewritten, or is struck down for giving law enforcement too much latitude.  The ruling also will decide the fate of former Ottawa software engineer Momin Khawaja, the first person charged under the law, and two other men, awaiting extradition to the United States, where they face charges of supporting the banned Tamil Tigers terrorist group.  Khawaja is now serving life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years, after the Ontario Court of Appeal took the unusual step of increasing his original 10-and-a-half year sentence to send a message about terrorism.  The high court will also rule on whether Khawaja’s stiffened sentence should be upheld, and whether the extradition order approved by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson against Suresh Sriskandarajah and Piratheepan Nadarajah should be overturned ….”

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