News Highlights – 8 Jun 11

  • Canadian Navy divers spent Monday underwater, assessing the damage to the underbelly of the Canadian submarine that hit bottom near Nootka Sound, off the west coast of the Island Saturday. Two sailors were injured when HMCS Corner Brook, under the command of Lt.Cmdr. Paul Sutherland, struck bottom while conducting submerged manoeuvres during advanced submarine officer training, said navy spokesman Gerry Pash. “For a ship to go aground is unusual,” Pash said. The team of divers was in Esquimalt Harbour, where the sub is now located, “looking at the point of impact to assess the damage and figure out if she’s going to have to undergo repairs or if she’s good to go to sea again,” Pash said. An investigation by a board of inquiry has been ordered to determine the cause of the incident ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  It appears some Afghan forces still need some work.  “The joint Canadian-Afghan patrol was supposed to be moving by stealth through the cold, pre-dawn darkness of Panjwaii. They were hunting Taliban earlier this year, tiptoeing through the winter-wasted fields of hardened grapevines, withered grass and fledgling poppy plants. One of the Canadians noticed the Afghan officer in charge of the patrol gathering twigs and scrub, but thought nothing of it until he took a sniff of the air. “What are you doing?” the soldier asked as the brush erupted into a little campfire. “I’m cold,” the officer replied. “Put that out! They can see it!” The Afghan officer waved his hand reassuringly. “Don’t worry,” he said. “The Taliban are still sleeping.” Soon, other fires sprang up in one of the many baffling moments Canadian troops in Afghanistan have experienced with their Afghan counterparts, leaving them wondering whether to laugh, cry or bury their faces in their hands ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  “…. To be sure, Canada’s second operation in Kandahar was expected to be a lot more dangerous than the previous one. But no Canadian in Kandahar on that day, nor any of their colleagues in Ottawa, foresaw six years of grinding war ahead of them. Six years later, as Canada transitions out of Kandahar, we should reflect on what we have learned from this brutal experience ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  From blogger/commentator Terry Glavin:  ” “In some ways, Letters to my Daughters is the mirror image of Steve Coll’s book Ghost Wars, which chronicles the involvement of the West in Afghanistan between 1979 and 2001. Koofi’s book tells us what it was like on the inside, to have your country serve as the site of a violent and repressive tug of war between competing ideologies, and – more accurately – competing thugocracies. One of the most compelling angles to the story is how completely alien the Taliban are to the non-Pashtun Afghans. They appear in the narrative like some weird, science-fiction menace, pushing relentlessly northward, scoring victory after victory, imposing their arabist customs and interpretation of Islam on a people who had always considered themselves the pre-eminent practitioners of the Muslim faith. “This bears emphasizing, because it has become an article of faith in the West –first amongst the anti-war left, but now in the highest reaches of the Obama administration – that the Taliban ideology is an authentic and long-standing part of the Afghan political fabric, and that ending the war will require some sort of bargain under the rubric of ‘reintegration and reconciliation.’ ….”
  • Question Period:  So, how much is it going to cost to get out of the old Camp Mirage in the UAE?  This from the Defence Minister:  “…. with respect to the ongoing costs of maintaining a logistic hub in the Middle East, which is very important in supporting our ongoing efforts in Afghanistan and in fact throughout the region, there will be information forthcoming.”
  • Libya Mission  The World Socialists bash the NDP for not being quite socialist enough on this one.  “Canada’s Conservative government has announced that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will continue to play a leading role in the imperialist assault on Libya well beyond the middle of this month. In March, all four parties in Canada’s parliament, as well as the Green Party, which subsequently elected its first-ever MP, supported a government motion authorizing the CAF to deploy its forces against the oil-rich North African country for the next 90 days …. The NDP, which was catapulted into the Official Opposition as a result of a more than 10-percentage point increase in its share of the popular vote on May 2, has, for its part, refused to indicate its attitude to Canada’s continued participation in the war on Libya …. Whatever stand the NDP ultimately takes on the Conservatives’ new motion on Libya, it has once again shown itself to be a party of and for big business—a party that can no more serve as an instrument to oppose the predatory interests of the Canadian ruling elite abroad than it can serve as a means of resisting the ruling class assault on worker living standards, public services, and democratic rights at home.”  Note to the World Socialists:  it’s been the Canadian Forces, not Canadian Armed Forces, for quite a while – you may want to update your desk book.
  • Speaking of left-wing rants, this from the Canadian Peace Alliance on Canada’s (sorta-kinda, but not quite) bases proposed overseas:  “The Canadian Peace Alliance condemns the plans of the Harper government to establish new foreign military bases for Canada. This is a policy that has been in the works for some time but, like so much else about Canada’s foreign policy, it was completely excluded from the discussion during the recent federal election. The idea of expanding foreign military bases for Canada goes against the wishes of the vast majority of Canadians. With the Harper government set to make a series of cuts to public services and spending generally, one of the few areas where they seem intent on spending even more is on war and militarism …. Foreign bases have nothing to do with Canadian security, and everything to do with the Harper government’s desire to be able to participate in future military aggressions like the ones ongoing in Afghanistan and Libya.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Hope springs eternal in southern Ontario when it comes to building big honkin’ ships.  “A St. Catharines company still hopes to get a slice of Canada’s largest-ever federal procurement. The National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy will see $35 billion worth of new ships purchased from Canadian shipyards over the next 30 years. Seaway Marine and Industrial of Port Weller is one of four shipbuilders still in the running, after the drop-out of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Kiewit Offshore Services. July 7 marks the deadline for proposals to build more than 30 new ships for the navy and coast guard. “We are one of the shortlisted companies,” said John Dewar, a vice-president of Upper Lakes Marine and Industrial Inc., which owns the Seaway Marine and Industrial Inc. dry docks in Port Weller. “And we’re looking at all of our options into bringing work to St. Catharines.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (2)  I don’t normally share Wikileaks news because of how it’s leaked out there, but this bit, buried in a story on hopes high unemployment rates would lead to higher Canadian military recruiting, caught my eye:  “…. (former MP Rick) Casson, who (new member to the Permanent Canada-United States Joint Board of Defence MP Laurie) Hawn is replacing on the Canada-U.S. defence board, told U.S. officials during a March 2 meeting that the Conservative plan to create a separate military procurement agency to avoid the interdepartmental turf wars would have to wait until the party formed a majority government. “Casson….complained that every defense purchase involved a complicated tug-of-war among the Department of National Defence, the Department of Industry and the Department of Public Works,” the cable said. “He admitted that the Conservatives’ hopes to establish a separate DND procurement agency had disappeared, at least until the Conservatives one day might for a majority government.” ….”  Another tile in the “Julian Fantino gets a new job” mosaic?
  • What’s Canada Buying (3)  Trade show for anti-air and anti-ship defence research linked to working in coastal areas.
  • The NDP’s Veterans Affairs critic is reviving his proposal to make it illegal to sell or trade military medals.
  • Blogger Mark Collins points us to a new American Congress report on the Arctic being tabled.  Key quote from the piece:  “When you consider sovereign defenses, the Arctic is very important to our military …. Sovereign defenses are not negotiable.”
  • Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie is joining the network of post-secondary institutions offering financial help to the family of Canada’s fallen.
  • Summer training courses for the artillery reserve in Sault Ste. Marie (see here, second item, and here for bids to house/feed the troops) are moving to Meaford in southern Ontario.
  • Getting letters = less post-traumatic stress?  There was Message in a Bottle, The Notebook and then Dear John. Nicholas Sparks, the king of saccharine love stories, certainly never penned a novel about romance sparked over the phone – there’s just something about the written word. Maybe it’s because it takes more effort to craft a letter. And now, to confirm the sentiment, the Journal of Traumatic Stress has published new research saying letters are much more than a pick-me-up for soldiers. In a study conducted at the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Denver, a team of researchers surveyed 193 U.S. soldiers who had been married for at least a year about how they communicated with their partners while they were deployed in a combat zone and how satisfied they were with their marriages. They also measured post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in the soldiers. Their results suggest the happily married soldiers who received delayed forms of communication (letters, care packages or e-mails) had lower levels of PTSD symptoms than their counterparts who communicated with their spouses just as frequently by phone or instant messaging ….”  You can read the summary of the study here.
  • Remembering the fallen on the west coast. “A stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway between LANGLEY and ABBOTSFORD, BC, will officially be dedicated as “Highway of Heroes” in memory of B.C’s thirteen fallen Canadian Forces Members who lost their lives in Afghanistan and in honour of their families who have received Memorial Silver Crosses ….”
  • Ah, someone else calling for jailed criminals to be beaten into shape and given weapons to protect Canadians“Youth who cause mischief in our community should be drafted into the military at age 16 and it must be mandatory to deter crime. Summer is almost here and here we go again. I see Canada Post mailboxes tipped over, graffiti over the walls, pop and beer cans scattered, grocery store carts used for joyrides and thrown in people’s lawn and trash in the neighbourhoods, especially where there is a park nearby. Why not make it mandatory and law to join the military for youth at the age of 16, for those who are not interested in school, work and not being useful at home? It is mandatory and law all over Europe and Middle East; youth who are not in school or working are drafted in military. You never find problems and crimes caused by youth in the latter world, other than in Canada and the United States ….”  My response to Monti’s letter:  “I understand the desire for people to give some guidance and direction to young people who may benefit. For some people, the military helps them develop a sense of confidence, structure and responsibility. That said, as a society, we should be very, very mindful about who we allow to use deadly force (even as a last resort) on our behalf.  I find it interesting that I rarely hear people say, “let’s take these criminals, train them up tough and hard, and make them police officers to protect our homes and streets”.”  Also, in much of Europe, there’s no more compulsory military service (Germany’s getting rid of theirs next month, and some of the Nordic countries still have it). News Highlights – 5 Mar 11

  • In Libya, the Brits & Germans may have done it, and the Dutch tried it, but Canadians aren’t planning on doing it “The Canadian military has no plans to conduct extraction raids into Libya and citizens who want out of the chaotic North African nation should make their way to embarkation points, the commander of the mission said Friday …. “There are no current plans to extract Canadians,” Lt.-Col. Tony DeJacolyn told The Canadian Press in an interview from Malta.  “The current concept of operations is to move Canadian entitled persons and instruct them to move to points of exit, whether it be by sea or air.” ….”
  • Of course, this story focuses on the KEY element of the Libyan evacuation effort in the lead paragraph“Instead of rations, tents and makeshift showers, the command post for Canada’s military-assisted evacuation from Libya offers fruity drinks, poolside umbrellas and spa packages. Lt.-Col. Anthony DeJacolyn, the commander of that effort, has yet to indulge. Instead, the Pickering native and his team are pulling 21-hour days at Malta’s five-star Excelsior Hotel in an attempt to get to safety the Canadians remaining in Libya. Efforts in the early days of the crisis had mixed results. Charter planes were turned back midflight. Others that could land at the airport in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, were forced to return empty because no evacuees were ready to get on board ….” Have they run out of news angles so soon?
  • More whining (this time from the International Committee of the Fourth International) about Canada in Libya“…. Like the other imperialist powers, the Canadian government is depicting its plans to intervene militarily in Libya as born of altruism—of abhorrence at the repressive actions of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime, fear for the lives of ordinary Libyans as the country descends into civil war, and concern for the spread of democracy in North Africa and the Middle East. This is poppycock. If Canada’s government is plotting with the US and the European Union to intervene in Libya, it is because the popular upsurge that has toppled Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia, hobbled Gaddafi, and challenged governments throughout North Africa and the Middle East is threatening vital imperialist economic and geo-strategic interests ….” Riiiiiiiiiiight.
  • Meanwhile, remember the Canadian Peace Congress’ position on Canadian military forces headed to Libya, calling for less militarism and more “solidarity”? A good response from Patrick Ross over at the Propagandist“…. Muammar al-Gadhafi doesn’t pay attention to Canadian protest rallies. I know: crazy, right? But somehow he just doesn’t care about what I hope will be thousands of Canadians – conservative and progressive alike — coming out to show their support for Libyans fighting for freedom in their own country.  At times like this, solidarity can be a pretty great thing. But solidarity won’t stop a Libyan Mirage fighter jet from strafing a peaceful protest rally. But a Canadian CF-18 shooting it out of the sky sure as hell will.  So it’s really this simple: either the so-called “peace movement” needs to be prepared to accept some kind of foreign intervention in Libya – whether it ends with a no-fly zone, or merely begins there – or they will have to accept what Muammar al-Gadhafi has been doing to his people ….” Well, Canadian Peace Alliance, which is it?
  • A Toronto cop shares his story from Kandahar through Canada’s web page on Afghanistan.
  • Toronto Terrorist Gets Life Sentence Shareef Abdelhaleem, the final member of the Toronto 18 to be sentenced for his crimes, has been handed a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 years. Abdelhaleem, 35, was sentenced Friday just before noon for his role in a homegrown terror plot to detonate bombs at the Toronto offices of CSIS, the Toronto Stock Exchange and an Ontario military base. He was found guilty last year of participating in a terrorist group and intending to cause an explosion. Ahead of his sentence, Shareef delivered a 23-minute rambling speech, in which he claimed he never intended to harm anyone. He also said that Canadians have been silent on the blatant injustice of his case…. ” More MSM coverage here.
  • Alleged Edmonton Terrorist Back in Court An Edmonton accused terrorist facing extradition to the U.S. is trying to block seized evidence from being sent south until the validity of the search warrant is examined. In a Court of Queen’s Bench hearing Thursday into the case of Iraqi-born Sayfildin Tahir-Sharif, defence lawyer Nate Whitling said an inquiry is necessary to make sure there were no Charter rights violations when police raided the 38-year-old’s north-side apartment on Jan. 19. “There has been an attempt to evade this inquiry,” said Whitling, suggesting authorities were attempting an “end run” by passing along evidence seized in the search to U.S. officials before ensuring the warrant was proper. “What we are saying is this was, in substance, a search and seizure and they should have followed the proper procedures,” said Whitling. Federal prosecutor Stacey Dej denied anything improper had taken place stemming from dual investigations by the American and Canadian authorities and said the RCMP had “acted responsibly” in its handling of the raid ….” More MSM coverage here.
  • Alleged Ottawa Terrorist Still in Court There is more than enough circumstantial evidence against former University of Ottawa professor Hassan Diab to justify his extradition to France, a federal Crown lawyer argued on Friday. Urging Justice Robert Maranger to ignore “emotional pleas” from Diab’s lawyer, prosecutor Jeffrey Johnston said the relatively “low standard” of evidence required by Canadian extradition law has been amply met during the protracted two-year proceedings against Diab. The Lebanese-born Canadian is wanted for murder and attempted murder by Paris police for his alleged role in the bombing of a synagogue in the French capital in October 1980. Diab, 57, says he is an innocent victim of mistaken identity ….”
  • The results of a sweeping federal review of veteran health services are being kept secret and former soldiers are losing out on benefits as a result, stakeholders say. “There’s something amiss,” said Liberal Sen. Percy Downe, who has been pressuring the government on the issue. “What we have is a cone of silence.” Since 2005, the Tories have been touting the Veterans Health Services Review as one of the most extensive ever undertaken by Veterans Affairs. It was meant to identify gaps in access to health programs plaguing this country’s vets – everything from spousal and burial benefits to the evolving needs of newer veterans.  In 2008, then minister Greg Thompson told a Senate committee the review was nearly complete. “It is going to provide us with a way forward in terms of how we provide services to our veterans,” he said. But when Downe pushed the feds for information from the report in 2010, he was told the recommendations were “protected information.” ….”
  • A hearty “well done” to Royal Canadian Regiment Colonel of the Regiment Walter Matheson Holmes for his work with those members of the regimental family needing help.  This, from a statement announcing his Meritorious Service Decoration (Military Division)“Since June 2006, Colonel of the Regiment Holmes has been providing leadership and has been dedicated to The Royal Canadian Regiment. He championed the development of the Regimental Veterans’ Care Cell, as well as the sourcing of private funds to support both wounded soldiers and the post-secondary education of the children of fallen soldiers. These initiatives have enhanced the quality of life for both serving and retired members of the regiment. His service has brought great credit to The Royal Canadian Regiment and to the Canadian Forces.” News Highlights – 3 Mar 11

  • CF to Libya (1a):  Canada’s Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) now has a page with information on Operation MOBILE, Canada’s mission to LibyaThe Canadian Forces launched Operation MOBILE on 25 February 2011 to assist the departure of Canadians and other foreign nationals from Libya. Op MOBILE is part of a whole-of-government effort led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) ….” The CF’s Combat Camera folks have pages with photos and video from OP Mobile, too.
  • CF to Libya (1b):  CEFCOM’s first feature story about the evacuation mission so far.
  • CF to Libya (2a):  So, what’s the job of the HMCS Charlottetown, exactly? “…. Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen, addressing his crew before departure, said they were heading into an “emerging humanitarian crisis” in North Africa, along with the navies of the United States, Britain and other Western nations. The country is in revolt over the 41-year reign of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Skjerpen told reporters little is yet known about the Charlottetown’s actual role once it arrives off Libya, which will come following a week-long Atlantic crossing. He doesn’t know yet whether the ship will join an existing NATO fleet or a U.S. naval task force, both now in the Mediterranean. Skjerpen also said he has no orders to begin enforcing United Nations trade sanctions against Libya. Nor does the frigate have stocks of humanitarian aid on board. “It’s a very dynamic situation over there right now, so we’ll have to adapt to whatever happens.” ….” More from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald here.
  • CF to Libya (2b):  Well, here’s what SOME in Canada’s Libyan community want. “Edmonton’s Libyan community is calling for the removal of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and has asked the Canadian government to take an active role in supporting the Libyan people. Zachariah Mansour, a second-year science student at the University if Alberta, was among 60 protesters calling for these measures at a recent rally at Churchill Square. “Basically we want to see a similar response to what happened in Haiti during the earthquake and in Sri Lanka during the tsunami; we want humanitarian aid not military intervention,” he says ….” (Note to Edmonton Libyan community:  a lot of the help sent to Haiti got there BECAUSE of the military.)
  • CF to Libya (3):  Toronto think-tanker John Thompson’s take“….Warships off the Libyan coast can be used to potentially interdict shipments to that country, provided that some sort of agreement between various nations decides to exclude — for example — shipping from Iran or North Korea, and can manage to do so under international law.  If the war continues, warships might be used to escort shipments of humanitarian supplies.  More interventionist roles, such as declaring that Libyan aircraft all remain grounded, or sending special forces to secure stocks of chemical weapons (which Libya has, and used in Chad in the 1980s) or to destroy Libya’s inventory of Scud Missiles to keep the conflict contained to Libya alone.  However, such interventions might cause lasting resentment that will outlive the current situation and could easily be used as for propaganda purposes by any faction.”
  • CF to Libya (4):  More “learning” of JTF-2 headed downrange. “…. the dispatch of Canada’s frigate HMCS Charlottetown, which sails Wednesday from Halifax with 240 Canadian Forces personnel aboard, represents a commitment of weeks or months of military presence. Its first job is to set up command-and-control for evacuation efforts if they’re still needed. Then it is likely to assist in aid operations to Libyans, and could finally end up as part of tougher international military “sanctions” against the regime, such as enforcing a blockade, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said. Canadian special forces troops are now based in Malta, The Globe and Mail has learned, and are believed to be playing an active role in assisting evacuation missions to rescue Canadians and citizens from other countries ….”
  • CF to Libya (5a):  Retired General Lew MacKenzie, in his own words, on Canada sending fighters to help in any no-fly zone that’ll be imposed on Libya “…. The immediate need for imposing a no-fly zone over Libya will only be achieved outside of the Security Council’s decision-making by a coalition of the willing. Some nation will have to assume a leadership role and as French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to recommend the idea, France would be an obvious choice. Canada should participate.”
  • CF to Libya (5b):  Retired General Lew MacKenzie, quoted & paraphrased, on Canada sending fighters to help in any no-fly zone that’ll be imposed on Libya: “…. Retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie said deploying CF-18s would be “logistically possible,” but “extremely difficult and somewhat time-consuming.” He foresees a more humanitarian role for Canada’s troops, although even that could be difficult since Canada doesn’t have a lot of assets already in the area ….”
  • Canada isn’t sending JUST military help to Libya. “…. “Canada is acting swiftly to help meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Libya which are a result of recent violence in that country,” said Prime Minister Harper.  “We are taking action to provide immediate humanitarian support to areas that need it most.” …. Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will help to address urgent medical requirements, basic humanitarian needs, and the repatriation of people displaced into Tunisia and Egypt.  Canada’s help will include improving access to food, water, sanitation, shelter and emergency medical care.  The initial contribution being announced today will support humanitarian efforts through the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration ….” More on that from the Canadian Press,, Postmedia News, and QMI Media.
  • It didn’t take long for the usual suspects to come out against ANY kind of help for Libya involving people whose titles include ranks. “The Canadian Peace Alliance is opposed to any military intervention in Libya or in the region as a whole …. Western military deployment to Libya is a bit like asking the arsonist to put out their own fire. Far from being a shining light in a humanitarian crisis, western intervention is designed to maintain the status quo and will, in fact make matters worse for the people there ….  The best way to help the people of Libya is to show our solidarity with their struggle. There are demonstrations planned this weekend. The people united will never be defeated!” I’m sorry, but WTF does “showing our solidarity with their struggle” mean, exactly?  Ship over some freeze-dried, vacuum-sealed solidarity to drop on the masses?  If you’re going to whine, how about some concrete solutions?  Even the Libyan community in Edmonton was clear about what they want.
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • Ottawa’s patience has run its course as the federal government is set to impose penalties of up to $8-million against Sikorsky for the latest delays in the delivery of a new fleet of maritime helicopters. The aircraft manufacturer is facing a financial hit after failing to meet a schedule that already has been pushed back from the original 2008 deadline. The amount of the penalty is largely symbolic, representing up to 0.15 per cent of the $5.7-billion contract, but the move highlights Ottawa’s decision to take a tougher stand against the U.S.-based company ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War: has posted a web page allowing you to send a letter to prominent politicians to oppose purchase of the F-35 here. One wonders how many people “personalize” the letter to make it say something COMPLETELY different than what’s already there before sending it?  Just sayin’….
  • Wanna buy an old Snowbird? “A rare chance to acquire an iconic piece of Canadian aviation history is up for grabs when a Snowbirds Tutor Jet is auctioned in Toronto next month.  The Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds team, which claims Moose Jaw as its home, has entertained millions of air show spectators as international ambassadors for Canada for more than 40 years …. Now one of these rare aircraft will be offered at public auction for the first time at the annual Classic Car Auction of Toronto from April 8 to 10 held at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont., next to Pearson International Airport.  It is one of only four known CT-114s under private ownership …. Originally powered by the J85 jet engine, which has since been removed after being retired from service, the aircraft is expected to become a candidate for restoration or historical museum display.”
  • Know those pirates stealing boats and killing people around Somalia?  Now, ship owners here in Canada are starting to get more  worried, too. “The hijackings and kidnappings orchestrated by Somali pirates in waters halfway around the globe are rippling back to shores of this country, Canadian shipping companies say, and they’ve joined an international campaign urging world governments to do more to combat the problem.  Several international shipping associations and sailors’ unions have launched the Save Our Seafarers campaign, warning the “growing Somali piracy crisis” is threatening global trade and endangering those working on ships plying the waters off Africa’s east coast.  The campaign’s supporters include the Chamber of Shipping of B.C. and Fairmont Shipping (Canada) Ltd., which say Canadian companies have had to turn down business and make costly changes to shipping routes to avoid the precarious waters patrolled by pirates.  “This problem has been recurring and has been escalating to a degree that we don’t feel this is something the industry can resolve,” Samuel Tang, a Fairmont Shipping vice-president, said in an interview ….” News Highlights – 11 Nov 10

  • Do not forget to remember.
  • One mom remembers – this from QMI/Sun MediaIt’ll be with feelings of both pride and senseless loss that Calgarians Diane and Gaetan Dallaire will lay a wreath at a city Remembrance Day service on Thursday.  The couple’s world became a darker place Aug. 3, 2006 when their 22-year-old son, Pte. Kevin Dallaire was killed in Afghanistan along with Sgt. Vaughn Ingram and Cpl. Bryce Keller by a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).  His mother, Diane, said she’s ready to emerge from the crowd at the ceremony at The Military Museums to pay tribute to her son.  “We’ve stayed quiet but this year I want to lay a wreath for my son,” said Dallaire.  “I get good days and bad days…this time of year, it’s worse.” ….”
  • Good question from the Toronto Star:  “What happens to a soldier who can’t be a soldier?”
  • Remembrance Day:  time to remember the fallen, or time to “save, save, save!”? Interesting discussion on the evolution of an Eddie Bauer “Remembrance Day” sales promotion (based on the success of Veterans’ Day sales in the U.S.).  This, from the company’s CEO on FaceBook on realizing the difference in how these days are observed:  “We appreciate the feedback we’ve been getting from our Canadian customers about Remembrance Day. We are sensitive to this matter and have adjusted our marketing and communication accordingly. We regret any offense that may have been taken to our sale.  By way of background, every year in the U.S. we join other American retailers in holding a Veterans Day Sale. This year we wanted to extend similar sale offers to our Canadian customers. However, please be assured we will no longer market this promotion as a Remembrance Day sale.”
  • The “Training Mission Post-2011 Door” is open just a crack.  Prime Minister Harper told CTV News from Korea:   “….Speaking from Seoul, South Korea, ahead of the G20 meeting, Harper told CTV News that he’s “looking at the 2011 to 2014 period” for the new mission.  If the government chooses to act on the proposal, Canadian forces would take up a training role in the war-torn country once its combat troops return home. “As you know we’ve been in Afghanistan for a very long time,” Harper said in a phone interview Wednesday evening.  “We do want to make sure that as we leave, what we leave behind is a situation that will ensure that the sacrifices that Canadians have made… are appropriately honoured,” he said.  “I think that will require some additional training,” he added. “It cannot involve any more combat.” ….’
  • We have an answer, now, to a good question from the Globe & Mail’s Bill Curry“Will PM break his Afghan silence on Remembrance Day?” He did indeed, but only with a “we’re thinking about it.”  Next phase, now that the flag’s been run up the flagpole:  let’s see what the opposition and the public have to say.
  • Who’s fault is it Canada is (allegedly) keeping troops in Afghanistan to train Afghan security forces?  According to the Canadian Peace Alliance’s co-chair, NOT the Prime Minister:  “…. According to (Canadian Peace Alliance cochair Derrick) O’Keefe, under Michael Ignatieff’s leadership, the federal Liberals have made it easy for the Harper government to make this decision.  “If you had to blame one person or party for this move right now,” he said, “you can actually fault Ignatieff and the Liberals more so because they have been publicly advocating for this war for some time.” O’Keefe argues that both the Conservative and Liberal parties are ideologically in favour of the war in Afghanistan, as well as being receptive to pressure from NATO and the U.S. government to extend the mission. Canadians should question the timing of the announcement, he said, charging that the Harper government is using Remembrance Day to “drum up patriotism for this war”. ” Calm down, buddy – let’s at least wait for a final decision being said out loud by someone on the record before rounding up the usual suspects.
  • When it comes to covering Afghanistan, National Post blogger Adrian MacNair says it’s all in what the reporter chooses to pick and share“When it comes to the 232-page document released by the Asia Foundation about their Afghan survey, the same problem poses itself. What some of the press decided was critical in the survey is that 43 per cent of Afghans strongly support Karzai’s negotiations with the Taliban.  And that’s all they decided to report. It’s almost as if the reporter had already decided the negotiations were the key point, and leafed through in search of some figures regardless of all other information released by the Asia Foundation.  Well, that’s one way to write the story. Here’s mine:  “Nearly half of all Afghans are confident their country is moving in the right direction — up seven per cent from last year — according to a nation-wide survey released on Tuesday.” ….” He’s also underwhelmed with a recent Toronto Star column on the idea of Canada staying to train Afghan security forces.
  • If there’s no death to be written about, how about writing how there hasn’t been any deaths for x days? This, from the Ottawa Citizen.
  • It’s one thing for consumers of services for veterans being worried about the privacy of their records.  Now, a Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) editorial (PDF) calls on Veterans Affairs to get a grip on protecting health records:  “…. Health professionals, both civilian and military, would do well to advocate for service men and women. Our military personnel protect our rights; it’s time we worked to protect theirs.”  More on there in the CMAJ’s news release here.
  • What’re the troops going to be eating out of their plasticized foil pouches down the road? Check out the menus here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban claims responsibility for a swack of attacks through Kandahar City.

G8/G20 Security Highlights, 19 Jun 10

Suspects arrested, charged with RBC bank machine firebombing last month – this, from the Ottawa Police Service:

…. three men have been charged as follows:

Roger Clement 58 years old, of Ottawa
RBC Arson – 18th of May 2010
Arson Causing Damage
Possession of incendiary material
Use explosives with intent to cause property damage


Matthew Morgan – Brown 32 years old, of Ottawa
RBC Arson – 18th of May 2010
Arson Causing Damage
Possession of incendiary material
Use explosives with intent to cause property damage

Claude Haridge, 50 years old, of Ottawa
RBC Arson – 18th of May 2010
Careless storage / handling of ammunition
Fail to comply with undertaking ….

They’re all back in court later this month more from the Canadian Press and here at the National Post.

It’s “Protest School” in Toronto – this from, emphasis mine:

A counter-summit in Toronto meant to challenge the G8 and G20 was dubbed “protest school” by organizers on Friday, as they shied away from denouncing violent action by demonstrators …. “People protest in various ways. Again, we’re simply organizing a conference,” said Dylan Penner, a committee member at the summit and media officer for the Council of Canadians …. While classes such as “direct action training” and “digitally mediated surveillance: rights and resistance” are on the agenda, the committee said the event is meant to be a peaceful weekend of learning …. (Marya Folinsbee, the co-ordinator of the People’s Summit) was a…. quick to point out that many of the workshops encouraged peaceful protest, such as “communication skills for activists,” which teaches protesters “how to de-escalate an angry movement.” But there are also workshops planned for debating and discussing a “diversity of tactics” during the G20 and G8 summits …. “It is really cloudy, and it is really complicated to work in solidarity with each other when these issues are still on the table,” she added ….

So, condemning violence and vandalism is “cloudy” is it?  Interestingly, the organizers of the protests have gone as far as developing a policy for dealing with those who want to fight the man, but may have been accused or convicted of sexual assault – one line stands out for me:

Perpetrators of Sexual Assault, Abuse and Harassment are not welcome in G8 & G20 Resistance Spaces!!!

I’d be happy to hear from anyone who can explain why such people “are not welcome” in the crowd, but those who would commit violence and/or vandalism are.  Simple question.

Part of the article above mentions one of the message tracks being transmitted by protest organizers:

(Marya Folinsbee, the co-ordinator of the People’s Summit) accused “the state” of being the real perpetrator of violence, as she deflected questions about whether or not organizers of the counter-summit would hold protesters accountable during the G20 …. Penner said protesters have been demonized, and fear-mongering has made the public nervous about violence during the G8 and G20.  The committee for the People’s Summit also suggested violence in past summits has not come from protesters, but from agent provocateurs.  “The state is, in fact, doing criminal activity if they don’t rule out agents provocateurs,” said Christine Jones, co-chair of the Canadian Peace Alliance as she spoke at the news conference Friday ….

This is a message stream making its way out in a variety of ways recently – even picked up from the same news conference and shared by (note the same “money clip” from Christine Jones)

Activists and labour organizations are calling for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to rule out the use of agents provocateurs during the G8 and G20 summits.  Pointing to the 2007 Montebello summit of North American leaders, where Quebec police admitted that three of their officers disguised themselves as demonstrators during protests, the People’s Summit urged officials to prohibit any attempt to incite violence to justify what they dubbed a “billion-dollar boondoggle.”  Quebec police denied allegations they used the officers to instigate violence at Montebello.  “The state is, in fact, doing criminal activity if they don’t rule out agents provocateurs,” Christine Jones, co-chair of the Canadian Peace Alliance, said at the launch of the People’s Summit on Friday morning ….

The message gained a bit of traction this week when Syd Ryan, representing the Ontario Federation of Labour, said the same thing..

Are they planting seeds out there so that if/when violence occurs, it’ll already be embedded in people’s minds that it must be the cops’ fault?

QMI/Sun Media has this quick guide to the protest groups and what they seek.

A new spot to check out what other-than-mainstream “media” are sharing about the Summit protests, here at  Apparently, any Flickr photo or Twitter post tagged with #g20report will automatically end up posted there.  I’ve added it to my list o’ “news of all kinds” links here.