News Highlights – 14 Mar 11

  • Interested in being heard about a proposed joint border security deal between Canada and the United States Here’s your chance! “…. The Government of Canada will engage with all levels of government and with communities, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, as well as with our citizens, on innovative approaches to security and competitiveness. This consultation will inform the development of a joint Canada-United States action plan that will set out a range of initiatives in four key areas of cooperation to promote security and support trade and economic growth ….” You have a bit more than five weeks (until 21 Apr 11, just before Good Friday) to send your ides in writing on these topics in to the government.  If you can keep it to 10,000 characters (about 2,000 words) or less, you can send it via this page.  Need a bit more scope?  Here’s some ways to share files no larger than 4MB.
  • Canada’s offering all sorts of help to Japan to help deal with its earthquake problems. “The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, outlined an array of expertise and technical assistance that the Government of Canada has offered to the Government of Japan as part of international efforts to help Japan respond to and recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the country on Friday, March 11. “Our government has been actively engaged since learning of this tragic event,” said Minister Cannon. “As Prime Minister Harper stated, Canada stands ready to provide any and all possible assistance to the people of Japan. Canada has put a range of capabilities at Japan’s disposal, including a 17-member Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team, which is currently on standby and ready to be deployed. “In addition, we are offering chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) technical expertise and equipment, Canadian Forces assets—including strategic airlift and personnel—to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts, Government of Canada relief stocks, and emergency medical and engineering capabilities,” added Minister Cannon ….” Why aren’t these assets moving out yet?  Because Japan hasn’t asked for anything specific yet.  More on a potential DVI team that could head to Afghanistan here, Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) here, and a lesser-known part of Canada’s special forces who might be able to help, the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU), here.
  • Arab League:  UN, approve a no-fly zone over Libya, please.  Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister:  Way to go, Arab League: “Canada welcomes the decision by the Arab League calling for a no-fly zone over Libya. In light of the grave and deteriorating situation in Libya, and Muammar Qadhafi’s reckless disregard for the lives of the Libyan people, this resolution clearly signals that Qadhafi does not have support in the region. He is isolated and ignoring the will of the international community. Canada again calls on the Qadhafi regime to cease its appalling attacks on the Libyan people. We reiterate our call that Qadhafi step down immediately. Canada will continue to work closely with our like-minded partners to explore the full range of options that might be available to us.” More from QMI here.
  • Canada’s military in Afghanistan has agreed, despite some initial discomfort, to help launch a controversial program in the Panjwaii district that will enlist and arm local civilians to defend their villages against insurgents. Canadian soldiers may even assist with training for the Afghan Local Police initiative, despite the fact Canada’s commander in Kandahar, Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, previously expressed hesitancy about the program. Brig.-Gen. Milner told media back in November that ALP forces might not be necessary in Panjwaii if the coalition could build up the numbers of Afghan National Police, who are better trained, better paid and fall under a more formal command structure. Four months later, with Afghan National Police recruitment still behind target, Brig.-Gen. Milner says he is now fully behind the idea of community-based forces to help protect areas recently cleared of insurgents ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch More attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
  • What’s Canada Buying? Wanted:  Someone to train west coast Search and Rescue (SAR) Technicians about “mountain (and) glacier climbing and rescue”.
  • Another one of the Khadr lads makes the news again. “A terrorist collaborator is walking the streets because a Canadian judge wrongly decided to stay extradition proceedings against him, the federal government asserts. In documents filed with Ontario’s highest court ahead of an appeal hearing, Ottawa maintains Abdullah Khadr should be handed over to the United States to face terror-related charges. Instead, by ordering the stay, Ontario Supreme Court Justice Christopher Speyer put Canada’s security at risk and damaged the fight against terrorism, the government argues on behalf of the U.S. “Because of the extradition judge’s errors, an admitted al-Qaida collaborator walks free,” the documents state. “The security of Canada and the international community is put at risk, Canada’s fight against terrorism is undermined, and the interests of justice are not served.” The U.S. wants to try the Ottawa-born Khadr, whose younger brother Omar is serving time in Guantanamo Bay for war crimes, on charges of supplying weapons to al-Qaida in Pakistan ….” News Highlights – 4 Nov 10

  • More from Postmedia News on Canada’s next ROTO of troops headed to Afghanistan from Valcartier, Quebec:  “At first they were smiling, holding hands or hugging each other. But as the roll call neared, tears started to flow, turning into uncontrollable sobbing. Families and friends bade farewell at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier Wednesday to 145 Quebec-based soldiers deployed to Afghanistan as part of the last combat rotation before the Canadian mission ends next summer ….” (More from the R22eR web page – en français – here.)
  • Building on the “Do We Arm the Tribes/Militias?” debate, this, via the Canadian PressThe Canadian military says it would rather boost the number of police officers in Kandahar than use militias to protect locals. Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner says that while the Afghan Local Police initiative is still a possibility, recruiting more police officers is a better option.  The ALP is a controversial program launched this summer to provide weapons and training to villagers in the hopes they will defend themselves against insurgents. Milner, who heads the Canadian mission in Kandahar, says he will be deploying fresh resources to help increase the numbers and broaden the training of Afghan National Police officers …”
  • CBC columnist/commentator Brian Stewart alleges Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s arm could be getting twisted soon (at an upcoming NATO meeting in Lisbon) in the hope that Canada will keep at least some troops in Afghanistan to train Afghan security forces: “…. the rumour is that NATO will badger Harper for as many as 400 trainers, to be based in Kabul and other areas away from direct combat. That number would still leave Canada with a significant role in the nearly decade-long conflict. But, politically, that kind of request would seem a safe political sell for the PM, as many Liberals, as well as many in Harper’s own caucus, are open to the idea of maintaining non-combat trainers after next summer. Harper, however, has not indicated in any way that he’ll consider changing his mind ….” My guess:  PM’ll still say “no”, with unnamed sources telling media, “where was NATO when Canada was fighting it out in Kandahar four years ago, asking for other NATO countries to help in the fight?”  More of my venting on this here, here and here.
  • Blog Watch: Lookit what Mark Collins over at Unambiguously Ambidextrous has managed to dig upI’ll bet you didn’t know about this American military contract for helicopter services to a Canadian company (will our major media notice?) ….” Good question.  Even more at here and the U.S. Federal Business Opportunities page announcing the award here.
  • According to QMI Media, “Canada’s outgoing veterans ombudsman says he has “no confidence” that the $2 billion dollars the Conservatives recently announced in new benefits will find its way into the pockets of injured vets. Pat Stogran told senators Wednesday that too many conditions are tied to the Tories’ proposals and numerous policies are not retro-active, so injured soldiers returning from Afghanistan won’t benefit.  “I’m concerned it is too piecemeal,” he said of the policy changes. Stogran pleaded with senators to massively reform the way the federal government treats former soldiers.  He said he has “no confidence” staff are briefing the minister in an (unbiased) way.  He told the Veterans Affairs subcommittee he is recommending 11 ways the government can “break the culture of denial and often poor treatment of our veterans and their families that is firmly entrenched in Veterans Affairs Canada and the Veterans Review and Appeals Board.” ….”
  • Guess who Canadians surveyed by Abacus Data found scarier:  Child soldier-terrorist Omar Khadr or disgraced former military multi-killer-rapist Russell Williams? QMI Media tells you here.
  • Remember Beverly Giesbrecht, a.k.a.Khadija Abdul Qahaar, the B.C. woman who was kidnapped in November 2008 while visiting Pakistan to share the Taliban’s story with the world via her web page (which no longer seems to be working – here’s a taste of the site via, and the domain name should be coming up for sale early next year as it expires then)?  This, from the Indian ExpressA woman journalist from Canada, who was abducted by militants in November 2008, has died following prolonged illness in the custody of the Taliban somewhere in northwest Pakistan or Afghanistan, sources said on Tuesday …. Khadija Abdul Qahar, 55, who was known as Beverly Giesbrecht before she converted to Islam, was abducted along with her translator Salman Khan and cook-cum-driver Zar Muhammad while travelling to Miranshah in the restive North Waziristan tribal region …. Salman Khan and Zar Muhammad were released after eight months of captivity due to efforts made by the head of a religious party.  Khan disclosed after his release that Qahar was suffering from hepatitis and was mentally prepared for death.  She was not very optimistic about her release, he had then said.”  (More from Postmedia News here, QMI/Sun Media here, the Georgia Straight here, with a bit of a timeline/commentary on the story at here).
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban Claim Responsiblity for Allegedly Killing 5 “Intelligence Officer” in KandaharMeme o’ the moment – “minion”
  • In Ontario, Conservative Member of the Legislature for Nepean-Carleton, Lisa MacLeod, is introducing a Private Member’s Bill today making Remembrance Day a statutory holiday across Ontario. According to QMI, Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec are the only provinces where it isn’t recognized as such.  Private Member’s Bills have a very, very small “pass through to Royal Assent” rate (more on this here – PDF from the Legislative Library of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario), but it might just get public debate going.

Have a great day!