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.
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 ….”
Canada to Gadhafi: Maybe it’s time to go?“Canada is warning that the desire for freedom in Libya and across the region will overwhelm leaders who withhold democracy and abuse their citizens. After criticism of its reluctant embrace of the pro-democracy rebellion that toppled Egypt’s longtime ruler, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is now positioning itself squarely behind Libyan rebels who are massing on Tripoli’s doorstep and preparing for battle with their dictator. In Ottawa, Government House Leader John Baird tabled sanctions in the House of Commons and spoke openly of “regime change” to end Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s 41-year rule. At a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva Monday, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon spoke hopefully of a “tide of change” sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa ….”
How about a no-fly zone over Libya? No consensus, says Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister. “A military no-fly zone over Libya is unlikely to get off the ground as several allies are balking at the plan, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Monday. “In terms of the no-fly zone, there doesn’t seem to be consensus among our allies,” Cannon told a teleconference from Geneva, declining to offer Canada’s position. “There are too many elements still not known, so I would not want to offer an opinion at this time,” he said. “We still don’t have enough information.” Earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain was working with its allies to draw up a plan for a military no-fly zone over Libya ….”
More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief: Libya), here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
More tidbits of information about missing Canadian Colin Rutherford in Afghanistan. This from CBC.ca: “…. The police chief in Ghazni province confirmed that Rutherford was living in the region for almost a month and that he was seen dressed in local clothing several times ….” This from the Toronto Star: “…. In late October, just six months into a new job as a media auditor in Toronto, Rutherford told his boss he was going on vacation. The 26-year-old wanted to learn Pashto, one of Afghanistan’s two official languages. “He went to Afghanistan and didn’t come back,” said Zia Hasan, manager of audit operations at the Toronto-based Canadian Circulations Audit Board. Rutherford had booked two weeks off. “We just thought he decided not to come back. Sometimes people do that. We’re obviously concerned for his welfare. We’re cooperating with the local authorities for any information that they require,” Hasan said ….”
How’re the Afghan troops being trained by Canadian and NATO troops doing? Not all that great yet according to one journalist blogger: “…. The question on everyone’s mind these days is whether the OMLTs (Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams) can mould the Afghans into an independent fighting force by the time Canada’s military withdraws from combat operations in a few months. Based on my two days on foot patrol with the OMLT (which hardly makes me an expert), the short answer to that question is no. The Afghan company I observed showed a capability to orchestrate simple security missions, though not without some problems. Capt. Eric Bouchard believes Afghans are now at a point where they can successfully conduct searches of compounds and fields for weapons. They are also fast at responding to Taliban activity. But as for more complicated missions, the Afghans seem to be lacking a level of sophistication ….”
Some moves afoot to make sure wounded warriors are properly represented, by both legal counsel and by the Vets’ Ombudsman.“Moved by the stories of Canada’s wounded soldiers who’ve come home only to be forced to fight the federal government for benefits, Ontario’s trial lawyers say they’ll represent injured veterans for free. And in Ottawa, sources tell the Star that the Liberals will present legislation Tuesday that, if passed, would elevate the Office of the Veterans’ Ombudsman so that it reports to Parliament, and not the minister of national defence, as is currently the case …. The 1,100-member Ontario Trial Lawyers Association told the Star it is astounded by the “hurdles, the runarounds and the hardships” Canada’s veterans face when they try to collect federal military service and disability benefits. “These veterans fight for our country and they really should not have to fight for these benefits,” said lawyer Patrick Brown, chair of the new initiative called Trial Lawyers for Veterans ….”
A name change coming after all for Canada’s Navy?“…. Senators on the national security and defence committee recommended Monday evening that the Senate adopt a motion encouraging the national defence minister to change the name of Maritime Command to a new name that includes the word “Navy”. The motion, by Liberal Senator Bill Rompkey, originally called on the minister to change the name to “Canadian Navy,” a term already used by Maritime Command in much of its communication, including on its website. The compromise position allowed senators who favour a return the navy’s original name of “Royal Canadian Navy” to support Rompkey’s motion. The Senate is expected to pass the motion Tuesday, opening the door for National Defence Minister Peter MacKay to rename the naval force R.C.N. before the end of the navy’s centennial year.” Nice idea, but do we need to spend all that money changing letterhead, web pages and everything else to include one more word? I’m as much for tradition as the next guy, but there ARE better things to spend the money on.
Remember this tidbit last week about Canada sending a party of ~150 to Roswell, New Mexico for interesting training? Here’s the Globe & Mail‘s version:“It’s got a grounded 747 with no engine, fake villages that can be stocked with speakers of unfamiliar languages, and 300,000 acres of some of the most Afghanistan-like desert-and-mountain terrain that money can buy. And next month, the training camp built upon a decommissioned army base in New Mexico will be taken over by about 150 visiting special-operations soldiers from north of the border. There, Canada’s most secretive military units will get a respite from the winter, while they keep up with the kind of training that their military masters in Ottawa are loath to highlight. According to a new $900,000 contract tender posted on a federal government procurement site, they will refine their standard special-operations skills – such as how to storm hijacked airplanes, how to parachute from aircraft, and how to fire and react to live ammunition. They will also delve into specific lessons drawn from the Afghanistan conflict – including learning how to rappel from helicopters during night raids, how to capture and question foreign enemies, and how to make sense of surveillance drawn from drone planes ….” Remember, you read it here first!
A bit of late-night debate in the House of Commons last night over Haiti, and what to do there.“In Ottawa, House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken granted Liberal MP Denis Coderre’s request for an emergency debate, held early Monday evening, on the “extremely tense” situation in Haiti. The MP, who said Haiti has “practically ceased to function,” reiterated the need for the federal government to create a special envoy to Haiti to work with all ministries and help get rid of red tape. “A wave of violence is now raging all over the country and we must, as responsible parliamentarians, look at Canada’s role in the outcome of this major crisis,” Coderre said. Coderre also suggested Canada send troops, such as the Disaster Assistance Response Team or DART, to provide additional security in Haiti ….” More on that from CTV.ca here and Agence France-Presse here.
If one believes reports from the Canadian Press based on briefing notes obtained through Access to Information requests, it was not smooth sailing flying for Canadians training Aussie UAV crews in Afghanistan.“Canadian aircrew played a significant, largely unheralded role in helping Australia get its unmanned aerial vehicle program off the ground in Afghanistan, federal documents show. The assistance, which continued for more than a year, involved teaching Australian pilots how to fly the Israeli-built Heron drones. The fact it went unheralded may not be a bad thing, considering the number of accidents the Aussies have had with their remote-controlled aircraft: two of them have crashed, while a third was damaged when its landing gear failed. Reports from the Australian defence ministry suggest one of the incidents forced the private Canadian company that leases the unmanned aircraft to both countries to temporarily suspend flights for two days early last month. Operations resumed once MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA), the B.C.-based defence contractor, checked the gear problem with the manufacturer …”
Note to headline writers: I like to think ALL soldiers think before they shoot, not just special forces troops. Screen capture of headline also here in case link doesn’t work.