Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – January 24, 2013

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  • More Mali (1a)  Canada is considering deploying a second aircraft to support the mission in Mali, CBC News has learned, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper indicated he’d like to see a “broad consensus” across Canada about any help for the country.  The mission could last for months, sources tell the CBC’s James Cudmore. But, they caution, the most pressing moments for the nascent international force in Mali are during these early days of the operation — and that’s where Canada’s efforts will likely be focused.  French military planners are desperate to surge gear and troops into Mali and deploy them forward to the fight. It’s that effort Canada is considering assisting.  In such a scenario, Canadian air crew would be under the operational control of a French-led Coalition Air Operations Centre, that would co-ordinate all air support to the international mission.  The details of the contribution are still to be approved by the government and worked out among allied militaries.  A source tells CBC News the exact nature of Canada’s contribution will depend on what other countries bring to the negotiating table. But in each case the negotiations are based on limited French requests for logistical support — not combat troops ….”
  • More Mali (1b)  Stephen Harper is looking for a broad national consensus on what else Canada should be doing about the unfolding crisis in Mali.  The prime minister said the government is looking at “whether and how” to extend its support for France, which has launched an offensive to dislodge an al-Qaida off-shoot from Mali’s north.  The government has reached out to colleagues and opposition parties to build consensus, but Harper made it clear Wednesday that “direct” military involvement in the form of troops is still not in the cards.  “Anything we do, I would like a broad Canadian consensus behind that,” he told a news conference in Cambridge, Ont.  “I do think that it is important to help this mission, but at the same time I think we’ve been very clear — and I think this reflects Canadian opinion — that while we’re prepared to help, we don’t want to see a direct Canadian military mission to Mali.”  NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has already said he wants to see the issue of the country’s military contribution — direct or otherwise — debated by Parliament.  Mulcair said he supports the decision to send a Canadian heavy-lift transport for logistics support, and even favours the French intervention, which began on Jan. 10 ….” – more here and here.
  • More Mali (1c) The Conservative government has cobbled together a nascent political consensus with the Opposition NDP that should permit an extended deployment of Canada’s heavy-lift military cargo plane, which is ferrying war equipment into Mali.  New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair agreed Sunday to allow the air force’s C-17 cargo plane to continue assisting French and African forces as they battle al-Qaida-linked militants, said NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday the government is looking at “whether and how” to extend its support of France, which launched an offensive Jan. 10 to dislodge the terrorist organization from northern Mali.  Harper said he has reached out to colleagues and opposition parties to build consensus on the next steps in the unfolding crisis, but made it clear that “direct” military involvement in the form of troops is still not in the cards ….”
  • More Mali (2)  Nigeria, the leading power in West Africa, wants Canada and other Western nations to take on the conflict in Mali as an international problem and provide funding and heavy equipment like helicopters – and it is warning the West not to parcel out small pieces of support now because it will force them to take on a more costly effort later ….”
  • More Mali (3)  What ELSE is Canada doing?  “….Mali hasn’t historically generated much in the way of international media coverage. But Canada has been providing development aid assistance to this sprawling West African nation for more than 40 years.  And Canadian-based companies have been actively involved in gold mining and other ventures in Mali for more than 20 years.  In fact, Mali has been designated a “country of focus” for CIDA since 2009. So it comes as no surprise that Canada is one of the biggest foreign aid donors to Mali, ranking fifth in the world according to OECD figures.  The $110 million Canada gave to Mali in 2010-11 (mostly through the Canadian International Development Agency) was enough to rank Mali as the third biggest recipient of Canadian assistance in Africa. Only Mozambique and Ethiopia received more. While direct aid payments to the government of Mali were suspended following the coup there in March 2012, CIDA’s programs that deliver humanitarian assistance directly to the population are still operating.  CIDA operates some 45 assistance programs through a variety of international and local non-governmental aid partners, such as CARE Canada ….”
  • More Mali (4a)’s looking for your comments on Canada’s role in Mali – remember, be nice now….
  • More Mali (4b)  World Socialist Web Site“Canada to expand support for French imperialism’s war on Mali”
  • More Mali (5)  More on whazzup in Mali here (Google News), here (EMM Explorer) and here (France’s defence ministry’s daily update in French)
  • Algeria  The federal government said Monday it was still “seeking further information” after Algeria’s prime minister remarked that the band of Islamist militants who carried out a deadly attack on a natural gas plant in that country included two CanadiansA Canadian security expert urged caution about taking at face-value statements from the Algerian government, suggesting it could be trying to deflect from criticism over its handling of the attack that left 38 hostages and 29 militants dead by pointing to “foreigners coming in to our country causing havoc.”  Christian Leuprecht, a fellow at the Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen’s University and political science professor at Royal Military College, also noted some terrorist groups have used fake or borrowed Canadian passports in the past.  Monday night, the Canadian Press reported the federal government is frustrated by the lack of information coming out of Algeria, and is assuming fake passports could be involved, according to an unnamed source ….”
  • Afghanistan  The United Nations has once again found that torture and abuse of prisoners — even children — is rampant in the Afghan prisons to which Canada once sent its detaineesA new report, released this week by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (PDF), found that the country’s infamous National Directorate of Security (NDS) still regularly engages in torture and abuse in its facilities across the war-torn country.  The problem is particularly severe in Kabul and in Kandahar …. Jay Paxton, spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, highlighted the fact the UN focused its efforts on Afghan and not international forces.  “No Canadian-transferred detainees have been transferred to, or held within facilities controlled by either of these organizations since before the last UNAMA report was released in 2011,” Paxton said ….”more in the UNAMA Info-machine’s news release here.
  • Georgia and Canada Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding about defense policyThe agreement was signed by Colonel Christopher R. Kilford and Davit Nardaia, Chairman of Georgia’s International Affairs and EU Integration Department at the Defense Ministry.  Colonel Kilford is on a visit to Georgia and has met with Colonel Irakli Dzneladze, Chair of Joint Staff of Georgia. The two discussed military cooperation between the two countries.  Bilateral cooperation between Georgia and Canada takes place within the framework of the Canadian Military Training and Cooperation Program.”
  • Foreign Affairs Minister:  BAAAAD North Korea“Canada is deeply concerned about North Korea’s missile tests and apparent plan to conduct more nuclear tests. We urge the regime to abandon any such plans.  The regime in Pyongyang has repeatedly violated its international obligations and poses a grave threat to the security and stability of the region, even as the people of North Korea starve and suffer.  Further defiance of its non-proliferation obligations will lead to further consequences: Canada stands ready to work with the international community to take further measures if the regime continues to demonstrate total disregard for its people by choosing to fund military and nuclear programs ….”
  • Congrats to to the Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute for making it into the top 10 think tank in North America & Mexico rating
  • VAC Minister drops by Moose Jaw  The Moose Jaw Legion was host to a discussion between veterans, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and MPs Ray Boughen (Palliser) and Laurie Hawn (Edmonton-Centre) Wednesday evening“It’s a great opportunity to be here in Moose Jaw,” Steven Blaney, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, told the Times-Herald. “I would call this an open and frank discussion about our program and initiatives.”  Together, the trio of Conservatives discussed programs and services available to veterans, as well as presenting a detailed explanation of how military pensions work, before fielding questions from an audience of 30 or 40.  Hawn discussed the structure of military pensions, seeking to dispel the notion that the government “claws back” an amount of money once a retired serviceman or woman reaches 65 ….” – more here, and a photo from the Minister’s Info-machine here.
  • The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and David Anderson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board and Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills-Grasslands …. announced up to $22,575 for a project in Swift Current to honour Veterans and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. This funding, provided through Veterans Affairs Canada’s Community War Memorial Program, will support the construction of the Community Métis Veterans Monument ….”

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24 January 13 at 7:45

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