MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – January 31, 2013
- Mali (1) “Canada is pulling its weight in the French-led mission in Mali and our help is “well appreciated,” says International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino. But the Conservative government will tread carefully before it makes any more decisions on further assistance. “Obviously this is an ever evolving situation. We want to be sure the decision taken is absolutely the right one. We’re going to be very cautious, very diligent,” Fantino told reporters during a conference call Wednesday. Canada is sending a C-17 transport plane to airlift troops and equipment to Mali, where French and African troops are battling Islamic militants in the north, until Feb. 15. On Tuesday, Fantino pledged an additional $13 million in humanitarian aid for the west African country. Defence officials say the Canadian military has flown at least 12 cargo loads from France to Mali aboard the C-17 since mid- January. The government has sent $76 million in aid to Mali since March 2012. While the door is still open on further involvement, Fantino wouldn’t say whether Canada had received specific requests for more assistance ….” – more from The Canadian Press here.
- Mali (x) Statement from Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on next step in Mali’s non-military development “Canada welcomes the adoption of a “road map for transition” by the Malian National Assembly (yesterday) in Bamako. It is important for the country to work toward free and fair presidential and legislative elections. We are pleased that key actors in Mali appear committed to bridge a way forward that will restore democracy, constitutional order and territorial integrity to Mali ….” – more on the new road map here
- Mali (2) More on whazzup in Mali here (Google News), here (EMM Explorer) and here (France’s defence ministry’s daily update in French)
- Syria “International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino announced Wednesday that Canada will more than double its aid to the victims of violence in Syria. Fantino pledged an extra $25 million, bringing Canada’s total contribution to more than $48 million in all. Speaking from the first High-Level International Humanitarian Pledging Conference in Kuwait, Fantino said Canada will continue to support humanitarian partners through the Canadian International Development Agency. Canada aims to help people affected by the Syrian crisis, particularly those who have fled to neighbouring countries such as Jordan. About 700,00 people have fled Syria since 2011. This assistance will be delivered through Canadian humanitarian organizations and international agencies, Fantino said ….” – more from the CIDA Info-machine on the assistance here and here
- Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Iran: Fox, meet henhouse “I am concerned about the impartiality of any investigation into the 1994 terrorist bombing of the Jewish cultural centre in Argentina that includes Iran, given there is credible evidence to suggest that Iran was implicated in this act of terrorism. We are concerned that it appears Iran will now be investigating itself. Iran’s ongoing support for terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas and its incitement to genocide of the Jewish people are all well documented. These are, in fact, reasons Canada recently listed Iran as a state supporter of terror. Those affected by this incident deserve justice, and that is simply not feasible if Iran joins this investigation ….” – more on this story here
- Afghanistan Pat Audet, 1971-2009, Martin Joannette, 1983-2009, R.I.P. “The Flight Safety Investigative Report and Epilogue of the fatal air accident involving the Griffon helicopter CH146434 that occurred on July 6, 2009, near Kandahar Air Field, is now available on the Air Force Directorate of Flight Safety website. The Flight Safety Investigative Report describes factual data and includes a comprehensive analysis of all factors associated with this accident. It presents findings discovered during the investigation as well as the preventive measures that have been taken since the accident ….” – more from media here and here, and some backstory at Milnet.ca here.
- “Defence Minister Peter MacKay on Wednesday defended steps taken by National Defence to ensure military families aren’t being forced to swallow huge financial losses after being ordered to move to new cities and bases. But MacKay didn’t explain how he planned to break the bureaucratic logjam that has left dozens of military families out in the cold, prompting opposition questions about the government’s interest in helping those in need. Canada’s military ombudsman, Peter Daigle, told the Ottawa Citizen in a recent interview that National Defence has a backlog of about 212 complaints for the military’s grievance process, with the majority related to forced moves. Transfers are one of the biggest stresses on military families, which can face moves half a dozen times or more over the course of a military career. National Defence does have programs in place to protect military personnel from losing money when selling homes in a “depressed” market. But a separate department — Treasury Board, which holds the federal purse strings — must ultimately approve the request, and it doesn’t consider any market in Canada “depressed.” Treasury Board documents show 146 families have applied for full compensation and all were denied, with Daigle saying some have lost up to $80,000 on their homes ….” – more here
- “The Royal Canadian Legion is launching a national letter-writing campaign aimed at forcing the Conservative government to cover the full cost of burying impoverished soldiers. Dominion president Gordon Moore is holding a news conference today in Elmira, Ont., to outline the campaign. Moore will be joined by the executive director of the Last Post Fund, the independent agency that administers the federal government’s funeral and burial program for Veterans Affairs Canada. Last fall, The Canadian Press reported the fund had rejected 20,147 applications submitted by the families of poor soldiers who passed away — roughly two-thirds of the total number of pleas it had received since 2006. Moore, who has been fighting since 2008 to have the criteria updated, says he’s dismayed at the government’s “inaction.” The legion is calling on its 330,000 members across Canada, along with the general public, to write members of Parliament to demand the funeral stipend be raised from the current $3,600 per soldier. “I ask, what is the Canadian government waiting for?” Moore said in an interview. A spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney said the government is already being generous. “While all of our programs are under constant review as we look for ways to improve them through a challenging fiscal climate, Canada’s funeral and burial program is one of the most comprehensive among allied nations and is the only program to cover full burial costs,” said Niklaus Schwenker ….”
- Way Up North “Personnel at Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert welcomed their new commanding officer, Major Warren Baccardax, during a change of command ceremony in Canada’s most northerly, permanently inhabited location on the evening of January 29. “We’re happy to welcome Major Baccardax to our ‘Frozen Chosen’ family,” said Colonel Sean Friday, commander of 8 Wing Trenton, Ont. “His appointment will continue the strong leadership tradition that Major Hoffman has maintained for the past six months in command of our station here in the Arctic.” The outgoing commanding officer, Maj Scott Hoffman, said he was honoured to have had the opportunity to serve in the Arctic ….”
- “A painful year has passed since a lost boy in Labrador walked through blowing snow across the sea ice outside Makkovik, hanging on for 19 freezing kilometres for help that never came. Fourteen-year-old Burton Winters stopped at that point and laid down. The discovery of his body on Feb. 1, three days after he disappeared while snowmobiling, threw his tiny Inuit community into grieving followed by questions about why he died. Vigils to mark his death and celebrate his life are being held around Newfoundland and Labrador this week as those questions linger. “We’ll always wonder: had there been immediate involvement from search and rescue helicopters or aircraft with the right equipment, could it have saved Burton?” said Randy Edmunds, a family friend and Liberal provincial politician. “There’s a whole chain of small things that led up to a disaster.” ….”
- “Intelligence and justice officials around the world will be watching (today) as a navy officer convicted of selling military secrets to Russia becomes the first person to be sentenced under Canada’s Security of Information Act. Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle will appear in Nova Scotia provincial court for a two-day hearing after pleading guilty in October to breach of trust and passing information to a foreign entity that could harm Canada’s interests. The landmark case has captivated legal experts, international allies and intelligence agencies eager to see how the Canadian judicial system handles the treason of one of its own. The challenge for lawyers and Judge Patrick Curran is how to come up with an appropriate sentence without having case law to consult under the untested act. “It’s going to be a very difficult exercise because there just isn’t really a range that’s been set out under this legislation,” Mike Taylor, Delisle’s lawyer, said in an interview Wednesday. “Although there will be comparisons to the (Official) Secrets Act … things are different and things have changed and the facts are different in those cases. “We’re comparing cases that don’t necessarily lie on all fours. They’re just not the same thing.” ….”
- Writer looks at recent book on Osama Bin Laden raid, and sees some lessons to be learned for Canada
- “For more than three years, U.S. Army deserter Rodney Watson has staved off deportation using nothing more than the brick walls of Downtown Vancouver’s First United Church — and the unwritten biblical code of “sanctuary.” Thus, when border officials spotted Mr. Watson “off property” during a routine check of the building Tuesday, they saw fit to make their move. Seeing the officers approach, an elderly friend of Mr. Watson rushed in to fight them off, allowing the 35-year-old to foil their pursuit and slip back over the church’s threshold. “It was a bit of a mystery why [border officials] were there at that particular time, almost waiting, it seemed,” said a church official. The episode is one of the starkest examples yet of Canadian border agents being stopped by the “sanctity” of a church — a practice they claim not to recognize ….”
- “RCMP officials are negotiating with their counterparts in Saudi Arabia to provide training in “investigative techniques,” Postmedia News has learned. While such a deal could bolster international cooperation and the fight against terrorism, some observers question whether Canada’s national police force should be providing support to the oil-rich kingdom, whose human-rights record has long been criticized. “Unless they’re going in to revolutionize Saudi police, it’s hard to imagine they’ll do anything good,” said Toby Jones, a professor of Middle East history at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “The Saudis have a terrible record on human rights and police brutality.” ….”