Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – December 14, 2012

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  • Afghanistan (1a)  Columnist, 26 Nov 12:  “…. while air travel in Afghanistan may have been uncomfortable, and often unsafe, it was never, as MacKay claims, “once impossible,” unless he is referring to the age before airplanes were invented. In that case, I hardly think that NATO should use commercial flights as proof of the mission’s progress ….”
  • Afghanistan (1b)  Letter to the editor, signed by a very senior expeditionary command officer, 13 Dec 12“…. I would like to point out that the fact that Minister MacKay, as a senior government official, was able to fly commercially into Kabul on his last trip to Afghanistan is definitely proof of progress in that country.  Until recently, Minister MacKay was only able to travel to Afghanistan by military transport, due to the deemed threat to his safety.  The Department of National Defence, in consultation with CF personnel in Afghanistan, conducts a threat assessment every time senior representatives of our country travel to Afghanistan. The threat assessment for the Minister’s most recent trip indicated that flight on a civilian airline was possible, and the Minister opted to take a commercial flight, the first time he had been able to do so.  I have been to Afghanistan three times in the past seven months, and can affirm that our deemed threat assessment for this trip had dropped to the level where a senior government representative could safely fly into Afghanistan on commercial airlines. This is indicative of the vast improvement in the stability of that country over the last 10 years ….”  Funny how the Minister doesn’t write such things….
  • Afghanistan (2)  More of the latest from a senior officer serving in country  “Since I last wrote, Remembrance Day has come and gone. For the team here at Camp Alamo, it was significant for two reasons: first we were graced with a visit by the Honourable Peter MacKay, our Minister of National Defence, and second, all the contingents assembled for the Remembrance Day ceremony, including our Afghan National Army colleagues.  During his short stay with us, Minister MacKay found the time to meet senior representatives from all the many national contingents at the Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC), speak to the troops, give out awards, join a ball-hockey game and even score a goal, and eat supper with the soldiers …. The “relief in place” (RiP) of Operation ATTENTION is now complete, so the Canadian contingent here at KMTC is all new faces except for me and Regimental Sergeant-Major; we are here for a year. The new rotation comes mostly from Canadian Forces units in Quebec, so the Newfie count here at Camp Alamo has accordingly reduced to two, I’m told ….”
  • Way Up North  Entertaining the troops in the Arctic  “The Christmas holidays are fast approaching and the “Frozen Chosen” working at Canadian Forces Station Alert, in Nunavut, who are far from their families and friends, enjoyed some amazing live entertainment recently. The Northern Show Tour that came to CFS Alert in the first week of December is an annual holiday tradition.  Performers Jasmine Bleile and Anna Ruddick, of the band Ladies of the Canyon, James Correa, Jason Bajada and Colin Moore performed country and rock music ranging from their own songs to old favourites. The whole station was in an upbeat mood and everyone was in a holiday spirit ….”
  • Former Canadian soldier Adam Picard, 29, appeared in court Thursday via video link on first degree murder charges in connection with the death of Fouad Nayel.  Police confirmed to CBC News that Picard is a former member of the Canadian military now studying to be a chef at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa.  At the courthouse Thursday, Nayel’s mother described the time between her son’s disappearance last summer and today as “hellish”. She says she met Picard on two separate occasions ….”
  • More sexual assault charges laid against former medic  The Canadian Forces (CF) National Investigation Service charged on Wednesday a former CF medical technician for incidents alleged to have occurred while he performed medical exams at a Naval Reserve unit in Thunder Bay and at the CF Recruiting Centre in London.  Petty Officer 2nd class (Retired) James Wilks was charged with the following:  eight counts of sexual assault, contrary to section 130 of the National Defence Act, and pursuant to section 271 of the Criminal Code; and nine counts of breach of trust, contrary to section 130 of the National Defence Act, and contrary to section 122 of the Criminal Code.  It is alleged that between 2002 and 2009, the accused performed medical examinations on CF recruits and serving members contrary to prescribed medical procedures. In September 2010 and January 2012, the CF National Investigation Service laid a total of 20 charges against Petty Officer 2nd class Wilks (Retired) in relation to similar incidents. The alleged victims of these new charges came forward after the Military Police made a public appeal for other possible victims to step forward ….” – more backstory here at
  • The Commander of the Canadian Army, Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin, attended the Extraordinary Meeting of the Commanders of the 30th Cycle of the Conference of American Armies in Mexico City from December 10 to 13, with military leaders from more than 20 Western Hemisphere armies.  The Conference of American Armies is an opportunity for ground force commanders from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean, to meet regularly to discuss areas of mutual interest and share lessons learned. In this way, the Conference of American Armies contributes to the security and democratic development of nations ….”
  • against nuclear weapons
  • Reports are that the launch of CCGS Corporal Teather C.V., the third hero Class Mid Shore Patrol Vessel, will happen the morning of Saturday, Dec 15 ….”
  • Border Security (1)  “Canada and the United States signed a new treaty …. to automatically share fingerprints, names, nationalities, birthdays, photos, and other information of refugee claimants and visa applicants to either countryThe move, say officials, is meant to cut down on fraud and prevent criminals or people who are deemed security risks from getting into Canada or its neighbour to the south.  Critics, however, have expressed concerns about how such information-sharing and biometrics collection programs ensure accountability, and that personal data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.  Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and US Ambassador David Jacobson inked the treaty at a news conference on Parliament Hill.  The two countries can now check another box off of their joint to-do list set out in the December 2011 perimeter plan, officially known as Beyond the Border, between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper that will overhaul border security and cross-border trade.  Meanwhile, Canada also recently released a list of 29 countries and one territory whose citizens are the first from which it plans to have fingerprints and a photo collected when they apply for a temporary visa or permit to work, study, or visit Canada as a tourist, starting next year ….” – more from the Immigration Canada Info-machine here and here.
  • Border Security (2)  Canadian think-tanker on Canada-U.S. border security  “It’s been a year since Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama announced framework agreements on Beyond the Border and the new Regulatory Cooperation Council. While most of the subsequent work has been below the waterline of media interest, let’s look at the progress to date.  With Obama’s re-election, there is good reason to believe that we soon will feel a positive difference for people and goods crossing the border. The regulatory initiative has the potential to be a real boon, both in the elimination of existing silly regulations — the “tyranny of small differences”, to borrow a phrase — and in setting sensible, complementary standards going forward ….”
  • The constitutionality of Canada’s anti-terror law comes under the microscope (today) 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 ….”
  • A monument to commemorate the experiences of Italian Canadians who were interned in Canada during the Second World War was unveiled …. at the Casa d’Italia, in Montréal.  To help build this monument, the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association (CIBPA) received a $168,376 contribution from Citizenship and Immigration Canada under the Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP) …. When war broke out in Erope in September 1939, Canada was governed by wartime emergency measures. Some Canadians of Italian origins were designated as enemy aliens, arrested and interned ….”– between  600 and 700, to be more precise.

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14 December 12 at 7:45

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