Three Charged in Canada with Terrorism

This, from the RCMP:

Today, as part of an extensive national security criminal investigation named Project SERVANT, the RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) in Ottawa arrested one individual and charged two others with terrorism offences under the Criminal Code of Canada.


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Awso PESHDARY, 25 years old from Ottawa, was arrested and charged with participation in the activity of a terrorist group (Sec. 83.18); and with facilitating an activity for a terrorist group (Sec. 83.19). He is currently in custody.

Today, the RCMP also laid terrorism charges in absentia against Khadar KHALIB, 23 years old, and John MAGUIRE, 24 years old, both from Ottawa. KHALIB was charged with leaving Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group (Sec. 83.181); and with counseling a person to participate in an activity of a terrorist group (Sec. 83.18). MAGUIRE was also charged with facilitating an activity for a terrorist group (Sec. 83.19). Charges were also laid for conspiring to participate or to contribute in an activity of a terrorist group (Sec. 465 (1)(c)) against all three.

While there have been recent reports saying that MAGUIRE was killed in Syria, the RCMP has not received conclusive evidence confirming that he is deceased.

As these two individuals remain at large, arrest warrants have been obtained and an Interpol Red Notice is being issued. The RCMP continues to work actively with its domestic and international partners to bring them back to Canada so they can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law ….

More here, as it all continues to unfold …. News Highlights – October 12, 2014



Way Up North


World War One News Highlights – 20 Sept 11

  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (1)  Busy Monday for the CDS – he spoke to the Prime Minister and he spoke to the defence critics.  Here’s the newest story line:  Canada’s chief of defence staff says he takes full responsibility for the travel expenses he has incurred and will reimburse the government if he is found to have broken any rules ….”  Variations on that theme here, here, here and from the outlet that broke the story here.  My read of this:  if he says this after meeting the PM and the defence critics, I’m going to guess he’s pretty sure the rules have been followed.
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (2)  And who decides if the rules have been followed?  This, from the CDS, quoted by the Globe & Mail“Canada’s top soldier now says he will cut a cheque to defray the cost of taking a government jet to a Caribbean vacation last year if the Prime Minister’s Office requests it. ….“If the government, as the Prime Minister indicated, his office looks at that trip … if the interpretation of the Treasury Board guidelines on this regard is incorrect, then I will reimburse as required,” he said ….”  Similar wording from here.  We’ll just have to see what the PM’s Office has to say about Treasury Board’s rules and if they apply here (which is different from hearing what the Treasury Board has to say).
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3a)  The CDS is appointed by the PM.  And how was the PM’s defence of his choice of CDS in the House of Commons during Question Period?  According to the Globe & Mail, “…. On the current controversy surrounding Gen. Natynczyk, NDP defence critic Jack Harris asked why the general had been allowed to take flights worth more than $1-million in the nearly four years he had headed the military – many of them on Challenger jets reserved for government VIPs. Mr. Harper, who met with Gen. Natynczyk on Monday, said the military chief understands the rules for taking government jets “and is certainly prepared to live according to those rules. The Chief of the Defence Staff does fly very frequently on government business, but obviously where there are alternatives, we will look into that usage.” ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3b)  Here’s what a transcript of the exchange in the House of Commons says was said:  “Mr. Jack Harris (St. John’s East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the cost of the Chief of the Defence Staff’s recent taxpayer-funded trips to events such as football games, hockey games and the Calgary Stampede have shocked Canadians. The government is now planning significant cuts to the Canadian Forces. Will the Conservative austerity plan only apply to soldiers, sailors and airmen and women and not to the brass? Why did the Minister of National Defence approve over $1 million of flights to be taken by the Chief of the Defence Staff?  Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence has outlined the rules under which ministers use government aircraft. I have spoken to the Chief of the Defence Staff. He understands what those expectations are and is certainly prepared to live according to those rules. As members know, the Chief of the Defence Staff does fly very frequently on government business, but obviously where there are alternatives we will look into that usage.
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3c)  Here’s how Defence Minister Peter MacKay handled a similar question earlier “Mr. Mathieu Ravignat (Pontiac, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Conservative ministers are developing quite a passion for the use of high-flying government jets. The Minister of Finance and the Minister of National Defence make particular liberal use of the jets. The Prime Minister says that everything is fine because he pays the paltry equivalent of a commercial airline ticket. Why have the Conservatives abandoned their commitment to respect taxpayers dollars when it comes to jetting around the country? Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, just to throw a few facts into the mix, the policy for the Prime Minister and all ministers requires that commercial travel be utilized for public business, the government aircraft being used when commercial travel is not available. I would remind the member opposite that when it comes to the liberal use of this aircraft, the Conservative government has reduced the average annual spending of the ministers’ Challenger flights by approximately 80% over the previous Liberal government.”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (4)  I really have to give credit where it’s due – is offering more information (including an intriguing tidbit), and not just from those aching for a “gotcha” story.  Good show for not JUST following the pack.  “…. Last week’s news reports indicated that it costs about $10,000 an hour to fly a Challenger, including pilot salaries, training costs and the cost of the planes’ depreciation. The actual flying cost is $2,630 an hour, according to numbers provided by the Department of National Defence. “These aircraft — these Challengers — are not used very much,” CBC’s James Cudmore reported. Natynczyk said military Challengers are flown an additional 170 hours a year with no passengers on board so that pilots can maintain their proficiency. “So these hours are paid for, they’re all paid for — there’s no incremental cost to the Crown,” he said. “That’s why, especially when I travel and I have the team with me, it’s less expensive to the government of Canada to get into that Challenger than it is to put them into an aircraft, in a commercial aircraft.” Natynczyk travels with up to six or seven people, sometimes including a close protection team with automatic weapons. He also needs the secure communication lines provided on government aircraft that allow him to work while he’s in the air. Cudmore said sources told CBC News that the story about Natynczyk may have been leaked by someone, perhaps in a bid to see the general replaced ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (5)  We’ve gone from a Saturday Calgary Herald editorial headlined “Jet-setting general” to this commentary from the National Post“…. Defence Minister Peter MacKay offered him use of the Challenger to join his family on vacation after he spent Christmas in Kandahar, and then attended a repatriation ceremony for five Canadians killed in Afghanistan, forcing him to miss his scheduled flight. Was he supposed to hang around Pearson airport waiting for a cancellation instead? ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (6)  One letter to the editor (bottom of page) sums it up for me:  “…. If the Chief of Defence Staff had done what the average Canadian would have done, said, “sorry I cannot be there to honour a Canadian hero, I have a holiday booked,” then the headline would have been something like “Top General Too Busy On A Cruise To Honour Our Dead.” ….”
  • In other news in case you’ve been distracted by the shiny bright thing that is the CDS’s jet story….  An internal government investigation has concluded that Conservative MP Bob Dechert did not breach national security despite exchanging emails with a Chinese reporter, insiders say. CTV News has learned the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service have found no evidence Dechert compromised national security as a result of his relationship with Shi Rong, a reporter with the Xinhua News Agency in Toronto. Senior CSIS and RCMP officers confirmed to CTV that the Chinese news agency functions as an intelligence arm of China ….”
  • Libya Mission  The House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence prepares to hear about and discuss the Libyan misison today.
  • A reminder that not ALL of Canada’s troops overseas are in Afghanistan“On 27 August 2011, the nine members of Task Force Freetown were guests of honour at the jubilant opening of the rebuilt Grafton Scout Camp near Freetown, Sierra Leone. Guests and Scouts joined together in a heartfelt ceremony with gifts, singing and outbursts of rhythmic clapping to thank Scouts Canada, the members of Task Force Freetown and the people of Canada for their generosity and compassion. Task Force Freetown, the Canadian Forces team deployed in Sierra Leone with the International Military Advisory and Training Team, got involved with the local branch of the Scouting movement through a civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) project. With a budget of Cdn$90,000, it turned into the most ambitious CIMIC effort ever undertaken by the tiny task force in its 11 years of existence ….”
  • Afghanistan  Door Gunner 101 courtesy of the CF Info-Machine“Door gunners are combat arms soldiers whose job is all about protecting soldiers. During the Task Force Freedom combat mission in Afghanistan, door gunners ranging in rank from private to sergeant flew aboard CH 146 Griffon and CH-147 Chinook helicopters. On the Chinooks, they used their weapons strictly for local protection and close defence; on the Griffons, they were called upon to protect ground troops and ensure the security of the Chinooks they were escorting ….”
  • Way Up North  Russia:  If you’re not an Arctic country, keep your nose outta the Arctic.  “Russia will increase its military presence in the Arctic – a region NATO should stay out of, a senior Kremlin official said Tuesday. ‘Our northern border used to be closed because of ice and a severe climate,’ said Anton Vasilev, a special ambassador for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ‘But the ice is going away we cannot leave 20,000 kilometres unwatched. We can’t leave ourselves in a position where we are undefended,’ Vasilev said, in an interview with the Interfax news agency. Global warming and demand for new energy sources make necessary new and clearer international agreements on the division of Arctic region’s resources and usage he said. Only Arctic Council nations – and not outside agencies like NATO or the European Union – should set the groundwork, he said ….”
  • I’m shocked, SHOCKED to hear someone from the Rideau Institute object to a British nuclear sub visiting Canada“A British nuclear submarine will visit the Port of Halifax next month, CBC News has learned, and that has at least one military critic worried about the risk of a nuclear accident. The British nuclear submarine fleet has been plagued by accidents in recent years, including a fatal explosion and fire, an onboard shooting and an underwater collision with a French sub.There have also been multiple leaks of low-level radiation. And while the risk of a major accident is small, Steve Staples of the Rideau Institute in Ottawa said, the consequences for Nova Scotians would be dire if the worst should occur. “If a fire spread to a nuclear reactor and even any of the potential nuclear weapons that could be on board, you could see the release of radiation like we had in Fukushima,” Staples said ….”
  • Now that the branches have been “Royalized”, more calls for unit re-namings are coming out of the woodwork “Made up mostly of farmers, fishermen and blue collar workers from northeastern New Brunswick, they became one of the most decorated military units in Canadian history as the North Shore Regiment. They were one of the first Canadian units to fight in the Great War. Before the regiment was merged with others in New Brunswick, it was among the first to breach Adolph Hitler’s Fortress Europe on Juno Beach in Normandy, France on D-Day during the Second World War. And while the “royal” title has been restored to many Armed Forces veterans delight, a growing chorus of voices wants to see New Brunswick’s second battalion of the Royal New Brunswick Regiment drop the colonial throwback for its original name. Proponents now say they are closer than ever to seeing the North Shore Regiment return after meeting with both provincial and federal officials this month. “We lost our identity,” said Graham Wiseman, president of the North Shore Veteran’s Association, whose father, Sprague Wiseman, is the only surviving member of the original regiment from Bathurst. “It has been a long wait to get it back, but there is a feeling that it will now happen.” ….” News Highlights – 10 Sept 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  INTERPOL wants to have a chat with Mohamar, his son and the former head of military intelligence.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Happy 18th Birthday HMCS Vancouver (even if you’re downrange).  “No cake, no singing, no champagne. Grapefruit juice was the strongest available beverage. In an atmosphere more vigilant than festive, the ship’s company marked the 18th anniversary of HMCS Vancouver’s commissioning as the frigate headed out of Agusta Bay on the east coast of Sicily for her first patrol of Operation MOBILE. Her destination: Libyan territorial waters, off the port of Misrata ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  Welcome back!  “Hugs and tears were shared on Friday at a Winnipeg air force base as 24 military men and women returned to their families from a summer assisting a NATO mission in Libya. Largely part of the Winnipeg-based 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, the Canadian Forces contingent landed at the 17 Wing base on a Hercules CC-130 plane as their family members watched on the tarmac. Six-year-old Kayden Maher held a welcome sign for his father. Master Cpl. Ryan Maher, an air frame technician, told reporters they “have no idea” how much he had missed his children during the past four months. “It’s just so nice to see them again, and be part of their lives,” Maher said, also with two-year-old daughter MacKenzie and wife Shauna ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  7 Sept 11: tells you 9-11 is going to become a “National Day of Service.”  9 Sept 11:  PM says 9-11 is going to become a “National Day of Service”.  More on this here.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2)  The threat level for a terror attack in Canada has not increased following information of a possible plot of a car bombing in Washington or New York on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 the RCMP says. “The RCMP has no information at this time that indicates that Canadians are more at risk than usual,” RCMP Sgt. Julie Gagnon told CBC News. Counterterrorism officials in the U.S. have been chasing a credible but unconfirmed tip that al-Qaeda has plans to set off a car bomb in New York City or Washington, with bridges or tunnels as potential targets. It was the first word of a possible “active plot” timed to coincide with commemoration of the group’s attacks in the United States a decade ago. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews backed the RCMP assessment. “In respect of Canada, I can’t point to any specific threat that might occur during this weekend but I think that all of our agencies are on full alert on a weekend like this,” Toews (said)….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3)  “Soldiers paid price for war on terror in blood, Trauma: Each day in Afghanistan a roll of the dice”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (4)  The CF Info-Machine’s “Domestic and Continental Defence and Security Accomplishments Post 9/11”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (5)  U.S. President Barack Obama thanked Canadians on Friday for their hospitality and support in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, recalling the “comfort of friendship and extraordinary assistance” in a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “It is often said that the United States and Canada are great neighbors, trading partners and the best of friends,” Obama wrote in a letter that was delivered to the prime minister on Friday. “In one of the darkest moments in our history, Canada stood by our side and showed itself to be a true friend.” ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (6)  Even the Taliban has to make itself heard for the anniversary, suggesting we don’t REALLY know what happened during the 9/11 attacks – riiiiiiiiight…. (link to non-terrorist site)
  • Andrew (Boomer) Eykelenboom, 1982-2006, R.I.P.  “Just over five years ago, Cpl. Andrew (Boomer) Eykelenboom was killed by a suicide bomber while serving as a medic in Afghanistan. Today, more than 50 cyclists will take part in a 180-kilometre bike ride to raise money for the Boomer’s Legacy foundation. The Boomer’s Legacy Ride has been taking place annually on Vancouver Island for the last four years. Today will be the first Atlantic ride, which starts at CFB Greenwood and ends at CFB Halifax ….”
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg (1)  You can now download the report and read it yourself here (PDF at CF page) or here (PDF at alternate download site)
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg (2)  What the Minister of National Defence has to say about the report:  “…. our government will be taking a close look at spending right across government to identify the savings needed to eliminate the deficit: this includes the Department of National Defence …. This report will inform our approach to the Government’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan, the results of which will be presented in Budget 2012. At all times, support for our frontline troops will be our priority ….”  More on this here (Postmedia News) and here (QMI/Sun Media).
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg (3)  What the Chief of Defence Staff has to say about the report (via – PDF downloadable here if link doesn’t work):  “…. The fiscal and operational environment in which the recommendations must be assessed and implemented has become even more complex. As well, while the report was being prepared, new budgetary reduction targets were announced as part of the government s deficit reduction action plan. Taken together, this creates a difficult backdrop for interpreting the potential advantages and drawbacks of recommendations made in the transformation report …. A concerted analysis has been underway since the transformation report was submitted, involving both CF and DND personnel. The goal of this effort has been to determine which elements of transformation are already being implemented through the Strategic Review, which options merit implementation in concert with the deficit reduction action plan, and which options have second and third-order consequences that require additional study. This level of analysis takes time, but only when it is complete will it be possible to decide and communicate which parts of the transformation report should be implemented right away, which must be phased in over the medium term, and which will be deferred ….” 
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Could Mark Collins be a touch skeptical re:  the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard getting new ships anytime soon?
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Remember the new JPSU building for CFB Petawawa (bullet 9) (map and floorplan downloadable here via ?  Here’s the Ottawa Citizen’s update“A new building to house military staff who work in a unit that provides help for ill and injured military personnel and their families is to be built at CFB Petawawa. The building is to replace a trailer currently used for staff members of the regional element of the Joint Personnel Support Unit for Eastern Ontario, according to a military spokesman. It’s expected that six staff members will work in the new building, although there will be space for a few others. Defence Construction Canada, a Crown corporation responsible for Department of National Defence construction, has issued a $1.3-million tender for the one-storey building to be built. The start and end dates of the construction are unknown, but the contract is to be awarded within the next three months ….”
  • The Canadian Forces have confirmed a body was found on the grounds at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Thursday morning. The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is investigating, but details regarding the cause of death, gender or identity have not been released. “They are investigating the discovery of a body on the grounds,” Canadian Forces Capt. Karina Holder said. “We never speculate on timing or when an investigation may or may not be completed.” “
  • The Canada Army Run is proving to be a big hit with runners. The Sept. 18 event in Ottawa has already attracted more than 16,000 participants and is sold out. The event is the fastest-growing run in Canada and the second-largest running event in Ottawa after Ottawa Race Weekend. It started four years ago with 7,000 participants. The Canada Army Run has five-kilometre and half-marathon events and raises money for Soldier On and the Military Families Fund ….”  More info on the run at the Army Run website here.
  • A bit of mechanical Canadian military history being honoured this weekend.  “During the final months of the Second World War, as Allied armies waged a brutal campaign to liberate Europe, a rough-hewn band of Canadian soldiers revolutionized ground warfare with an unusual new technology.  They were called the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment, assembled to drive Kangaroos, tanks modified to carry troops. The unit laid the groundwork for the tactics of today’s light armoured vehicles, protecting soldiers from gunfire while they travelled to enemy lines, but was swiftly dissolved at war’s end and its history was largely forgotten …. In a ceremony this weekend, the regiment will get some overdue credit. After decades of obscurity, veterans alerted the Department of National Defence that they wanted formal recognition of the unit, and found a serving regiment to take up the Kangaroos’ battle honours, ensuring its story will be perpetuated …. At a ceremony in St. Thomas, Ont., on Saturday, the (31 Combat Engineer Regiment, also known as the) Elgins will accept a standard listing the Kangaroos’ honours to hang in their armoury. A Kangaroo bought by the Canadian War Museum – one of only a handful that still exist – will be paraded in the streets ….” News Highlights – 15 Aug 11

  • Afghanistan (1)  Guess where defence spending appears to have been growing the most during Afghanistan?  “Canada’s defence department bulked up during war — but not where you think. Since 2004 — as the country’s mission in Afghanistan was ramping up — the defence department began swelling up, according to a Star analysis. But the dramatic growth happened far from the front lines with more civilians, more contractors and a ballooning headquarters staff. Military experts say the numbers tell the tale of a bureaucracy run amok, even as the uniform ranks — especially the navy — remain stretched for manpower. And it comes at a time when a radical plan to transform the defence department has been put in the hands of Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Gen. Walt Natynczyk. At its heart, the goal of this still-secret blueprint is to trim the size of defence headquarters, pushing thousands of military personnel out of Ottawa and on to the country’s air force bases, naval ports and army bases ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Another Legion welcomes home vets from downrange“The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 192 Carleton Place worked in conjunction with the town to host an Afghanistan Veterans’ Appreciation Day on Sunday, Aug. 14. Legion member Ron Goebel helped spearhead the event in which 15 to 18 military men and women were honoured for their work overseas ….”
  • Way Up North  GG to show the flag with first official visit to Arctic, wishes we were there.  “Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife Sharon leave Monday for Nunavut, their first official visit to Canada’s Arctic as the vice-regal couple — but not their first as Canadians. Johnston is rekindling a love affair of sorts with the North, having previously visited the Yukon and Northwest Territories with his family after growing up in northern Ontario. But this will be Johnston’s maiden voyage to the Eastern Arctic, and also marks the first time any governor general has visited two isolated and traditional communities due north of Hudson’s Bay, Kugaaruk and Qikiqtarjuaq ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  More than a million bags to assemble ration packs and safety stickers for Canada’s Navy..
  • The biggest factors to juggle as Canada works with the U.S. on joint border security issues.  “…. at some point the Harper government is going to have to come out of the bunker and level with the Canadian electorate on the messy parts of such huge negotiations. When it does, it will be clear the toughest piece of this puzzle rests with Vic Toews. It is the security piece that is driving the American agenda, while the Canadian agenda is dominated by facilitating trade and easing the flow of goods across the border. It will fall to the public safety minister to hold the line on what many Canadians consider to be the perils of these talks — a potential loss of sovereignty, a sell-out of our privacy rights and a lack of transparency ….”
  • The agency responsible for airline security paid the RCMP $40 million a year to provide armed officers on domestic and international flights as a deterrent to terrorists. Newly released documents obtained by the Citizen show for the first time the high costs of the secretive air marshals program put in place after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the United States. Billing records show that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority was invoiced by the Mounties about $10 million every quarter between 2004 and 2006, before the arrangement was restructured and the federal government began funding the program directly. Despite the cost, there is no indication a Canadian air marshal has ever had to intervene against a potential security threat while in flight. They are not allowed to get involved with instances of air rage or unruly passengers, in case the disruption is a ruse to draw them out ….”
  • More of a push for Canada to prosecute war criminals here instead of shipping them out. “Ramiro Cristales is still haunted by the brutal deaths of his parents and seven siblings at the hands of Guatemalan soldiers in Las Dos Erres, Guatemala. Overnight, 251 people were killed, leaving Cristales, then only 5, and another child the only survivors of the December 1982 massacre. Cristales was thrilled when he learned in January that one of the alleged perpetrators, Jorge Sosa Orantes, was picked up and arrested in Lethbridge, Alta. Now 34 and a Canadian citizen, Cristales is eager to see justice served in his adopted homeland. But he is not holding out much hope. Although Orantes, a dual Canadian and American citizen, has a court date in Calgary later this month, it is for his extradition to the United States where he faces charges not related to the mass murders but for lying on a citizenship application about his role in the Guatemalan military. “Deporting a criminal is not real justice,” said Cristales, who came here in 1999 under a witness protection program. Federal laws allow Ottawa to prosecute alleged war criminals for war crimes committed abroad. Yet, since Canada’s war crimes program was launched in 1998, only two individuals — both Rwandan genocide suspects — have been charged under the Criminal Code ….”
  • B.C. writer David Stafford wraps up WW2 spy history book for U.K. government.  “…. His latest book was released earlier this year with the satisfying title Mission Accomplished. In some ways, that is the case for Mr. Stafford, too, who is now taking a well-earned sabbatical. The British Cabinet Office commissioned the work, an official history of actions by Special Operations Executive in Italy from 1943 to the end of the Second World War. SOE was the force established for espionage, sabotage and subversion in lands of German occupation. As Churchill memorably ordered, their job was to “set Europe ablaze.” Written to be enjoyed by a general audience, Mr. Stafford also took as his responsibility to provide for scholars “a first sketch” of the secret war on the peninsula, seeding the ground of his research with footnotes to encourage further exploration. “I’ve given them all the signposts,” he said ….” News Highlights – 17 Jul 11

  • Afghanistan (1)  “Intelligence is never perfect, says the country’s top military commander, but as Canada emerges from the five-year trauma of Kandahar, tough questions are being asked about what spy services knew — or should have known — about southern Afghanistan. “I don’t think anyone fully expected the kind of counter-insurgency fight we faced here,” Gen. Walter Natynczyk said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press. That in itself is an understatement, the sort of explanation that has the blinding clarity of 20-20 hindsight. But as Canada takes stock of its brutal, bloody war in the desert wastelands of south Asia, there’s been little, if any, consideration of how the army — and, by extension, the country — became so embedded in the Afghan quagmire ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Now that the “combat” role is over for the Canadian military in Afghanistan, concern is being expressed for the mental wellbeing of the 27,000 Canadians who have served there. The war may be over, but issues of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its associated Operational Stress Injury (OSI) remain — affecting to some degree maybe 5,000 soldiers. DND and Veterans Affairs are concerned, and have established a couple of dozen support centres across the country — perhaps provoked by criticism from the former veterans’ ombudsman, retired Col. Pat Stogran, who was bounced because he was too adamant on behalf of vets. A rarely mentioned (even unmentionable) issue with the military is suicide among soldiers — the fate of the last two of the 157 fatalities in Afghanistan ….”
  • A Canadian General is being touted as a possible next Commissioner of the RCMP.  “A well-respected army general, a top bureaucrat with RCMP experience and a popular police chief are among the federal government’s shortlist of candidates to lead the Mounties, Postmedia News has learned. Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, the man who headed the army for four years, is a serious contender for the job of RCMP commissioner, government sources say. Leslie is just wrapping up a yearlong stint as chief of transformation where he was charged with coming up with a plan to reposition the Canadian Forces for future challenges — a job some observers say needs doing at the RCMP. Luc Portelance, the president of the Canada Border Services Agency who began his career with the Mounties before heading to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, has close ties to the prime minister’s national security adviser Stephen Rigby and is seen to be campaigning for the job. “He has no senior police management but, in the eyes of a whole lot of Mounties, the fact that you have gone through the process of Depot [The RCMP training academy in Saskatchewan], it is sort of a right of initiation,” said Liberal Sen. Colin Kenny, the former chairman of the Senate committee on National Security and Defence. Ottawa’s police chief, Vern White, a former RCMP assistant commissioner, is still in the running despite recently signing a three-year contract extension with the city ….”
  • Nijmegen marchers to honour fallen of Vimy Ridge.
  • Is Russell Williams a unique phenomenon in the world of sadistic sexual killers? Tim Appleby tackles the perplexing question in his best-selling book A New Kind of Monster: The Secret Life and Chilling Crimes of Colonel Russell Williams. For his first true crime book, the veteran Globe and Mail crime reporter and foreign correspondent has wisely chosen a tale that has piqued the imagination of Canadians from coast to coast ….”
  • War of 1812 commemorations:  celebration without American bashing.  “It’s a sticky question. Exactly how should Canada commemorate the 200th anniversary of a war in which our predecessors repelled an invasion by the United States – now this country’s closest ally and most valued trading partner? The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is fast approaching. It’s a major formative event in Canada’s history – but like all wars, was wrenching and destructive. Both the White House and early Parliament buildings in Upper Canada were torched during the conflict.  For the Harper government in Ottawa, the approach to this anniversary is nuanced: energetically embracing military exploits and valour during the conflict – standing fast against invaders, for instance – while taking extra care to avoid inciting anti-American sentiment ….”
  • Speaking of the War of 1812 ….  “The St. Lawrence River will soon have a higher profile at the Fort Wellington Parks Canada site in Prescott. The hull of an 1812-era gunboat raised from Brown’s Bay in 1967 and housed ever since at the St. Lawrence Islands National Park site at Mallorytown Landing is being prepared for a move next month to a new home being built at the fort. It’s one of only three gunboats from the era known to be in existence, and the move to Fort Wellington is a fitting transition, especially with the War of 1812 bicentennial celebrations on the horizon, said Elizabeth Pilon, project manager for visitor experience. Pilon said in an interview at the Mallorytown Landing site, where the gunboat is being prepared for the move, that the vessel will draw more attention in Prescott while also helping to better explain the fort’s ties to the St. Lawrence River. “Prescott was a gunboat station during the War of 1812 and the fort was built to protect the river,” said Pilon. “It only seems fitting that the gunboat should be displayed in Prescott, where it will allow us to tell the river story ….” News Highlights – 9 Jul 11

  • Afghanistan (1a)  Yet MORE “Canada’s Done with Combat Mission” stories from United Press International, PBS, The Canadian Press (more here) and QMI/Sun Media (including a “letter home to the folks” format story/op-ed).
  • Afghanistan (1b)  Even a Taliban spokesperson’s saying so long to Canada’s troops, with a hint they read the papers, too.  “…. The people of Canada have to ask their government and military chiefs what are the objectives and achievements that they have obtained during the past decade, apart from the innumerous losses in life and equipments. If they have no answer, then why they allow them to continue their illegitimate intervention in Afghanistan under another title in the name of military training. We are sure, the new mission of Canada under the name of military training will bring in only losses and bitter outcome like the precedent of their war mission which has had self-same consequences.”  More here.
  • Afghanistan (1c)  ANA General thanks Canada for the work (via CF’s Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (2)  NOW the Canadian Government Info-Machine cranks out the “lookit what a great job we did” stories on the PM’s latest visit, Canada’s work on polio vaccinations, work on an irrigation system, a May visit to a cultural centre, recognition of another cultural centre being helped by Canadians, a May graduation parade of Afghan officers and Canada’s help with nutrition programs.  Funny how a majority government makes one less reluctant to speak about what’s right.
  • Afghanistan (2a)  Continued legacy tea leaf reading:  “….the equation is not only what did Canada do for Afghanistan but what did Afghanistan do for Canada? Off the top it laid to rest, forever, the dewy-eyed concept of peacekeeping. A blue beret military had its place, an honourable one, in history. But that era has passed, unlikely ever to return. From the ashes of tacit demobilization, a robust Canadian Forces arose, Phoenix-like — a military fit to stand on guard for righteous wars in distant lands. Something that was lost has been found.” Best line from this column: “….Spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousaf Ahmadi put out a statement via email Friday, applauding Canada’s formal end-of-combat this past week, claiming the withdrawal from Kandahar had been “compelled’’ by the mujahedeen resistance …. “In addition to the life loss, the heavy economic burden of the war dawned on the people and members of the Parliament of Canada to press the ruling regime in Canada to withdraw their forces,’’ Yousaf Ahmadi says …. “The people of Canada have to ask their government and military chiefs what are the objectives and achievements that they have obtained during the past decade, apart from the innumerous losses in life and equipments. If they have no answer, then why they allow them to continue their illegitimate intervention in Afghanistan under another title in the name of military training?’’ There are some Canadian newspaper columnists who should sue Yousaf for plagiarism ….”
  • Afghanistan (2b)  Toronto Star editorial board’s take on the legacy and lessons learned:  “As Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan morphs into a training mission, many may well wonder Was it worth it? A generation of troops has been battle-hardened in Kandahar’s dusty villages and farmlands. We’ve invested $20 billion in our longest conflict, committed $2 billion in aid, lost 157 courageous men and women, and taken hundreds of casualties. Despite these costs, the answer is Yes, it was worth it ….”
  • Afghanistan (2c)  Another editorial“…. Despite our departure the work continues, including by a contingent of Canadians tasked with training Afghans to take charge of their own security. Elsewhere in the world we can only guess where the next trouble spot will be. We might not make a big deal come next July 5, but Canadians can take pride in the work done by our military personnel over the last decade and feel confident that whatever comes next, they’ll continue to make a difference on the world stage.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Some still want to go back.
  • Afghainstan (4a)  A bit of what comes next“Now that Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan has ended, the lessons learned in battle will carry on in the fighting here, says a senior Canadian military leader. The deputy commander of the Canadian Contingent Training Mission, which will help mentor Afghan military leaders and instructors in Kabul until March 2014, says our forces have learned a great deal during the conflict. “Nothing tests soldiers and leaders as much as combat does, and our men and women have seen plenty of that in southern Afghanistan,” says Col. Peter Dawe, adding our soldiers worked extensively with Afghan army leaders while serving with mentoring and liaison teams ….”
  • Afghanistan (4b)  More on what’s next“In a ceremonial transfer of command authority held at Camp Blackhorse on the eastern edge of Kabul, Colonel Rory Radford of the Canadian Forces assumed command of the Consolidated Fielding Centre (CFC) on 3 July 2011. Supported by the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A), the CFC is a one-of-a-kind facility that prepares formed units of the Afghan National Army for integration into a corps. Each corps of the Afghan National Army is assigned to a province of Afghanistan. The outgoing commandant, Col Casey Griffith, is an officer of the U.S. Army ….”
  • Afghanistan (5)  Labatt donates beer to the troops still downrange.
  • Afghanistan (6)  Canada apparently still working on getting that Canadian student reportedly kidnapped by Taliban earlier this year outta there.  “A Scarborough woman whose son is being held in Afghanistan by kidnappers is “sick with worry” and “can’t get a straight answer” from the federal government on how they will get her son home, local Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis says …. Media reports have said Rutherford’s kidnappers sent demands to Canada’s government, but Karygiannis, his mother’s MP in Scarborough-Agincourt, said she has not been told what the demands are and his own inquiries about the case have gone unanswered.  Karygiannis confirmed Rutherford’s mother does not want to speak to reporters, but in a release this week the Liberal MP quotes the woman as saying the federal government told her “due to privacy issues, they cannot discuss the case.”  A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Canada, which advises Canadians against all travel to Afghanistan, confirmed Rutherford, “after travelling to the country as a tourist,” is missing there.  “Canadian officials are working with Afghan authorities to assist the family in securing the safe release of their loved one,” Priya Sinha added on Wednesday. “We ask that the media respect the privacy of the family.” “  Taliban’s initial reports of the kidnapping here and here, with the Taliban video available here, and the statement accompanying the release of the video here (all links to non-terrorist sites).
  • Afghanistan (7)  Afghan-Canadians to rally at Queen’s Park today calling for Pakistan’s military intelligence service to butt out of Afghanistan’s business.
  • Anthony Joseph Boneca, 1985-2006, R.I.P.  Five years ago today.
  • Jordan Anderson, 1981-2007, R.I.P.  When Corporal Jordan Anderson prepared to go to war he made sure his wife knew what to expect should the worst happen. “He told me that the case that he comes home in is called a transfer case and that there is dry ice in it. It’s not the casket. I would have to choose a casket for him,” said Amanda Anderson. Cpl. Anderson told his wife details she didn’t want to hear, following her from room to room when she refused to listen. “He told me, ‘If I am shot you might be able to see my body depending on where I was shot, but if it is an IED, don’t even expect to see me.’ ” In this, Cpl. Anderson, who died when a massive IED killed him and six others, was wrong. “Maybe two days before the funeral they said that I could see him. He looked almost like himself. He just had a small scratch on one cheek,” she said. Cpl. Anderson even told his wife how the news would be broken to her ….”
  • Libya Mission:  One African dude’s opinion.  “…. Canada`s recognition of and support for the (Bengazi-based Transitional National Council ) TNC adds to similar moves by almost every western country, a very useful diplomatic weapon in the general campaign to remove Gadhafi. It was against this background that the spokesman for the TNC, Jalal el-Galal, thanked Canada for its support. The TNC spokesman also drew attention to the need to translate ‘recognition’ into ‘practical help’ to help meet the financial obligations to the people without which hunger and frustration could breed discontent that could play to Gadhafi’s favour. This was an open call for Ottawa to dig its hands deep into its pockets.”
  • Columnist sees Canada become HUGELY militaristic weeks after the election.  “…. For a country that has long prided itself on a reputation as a peacemaker, it’s a remarkable turn. Hawks of the western world? Who would have thunk it? It’s a play to our baser instincts, instincts that are more primitive than progressive. The Conservatives’s lock-‘em-up law-and-order policy is one example of this. The glorification of the military is another ….”  Yeah, that’s us:  Argentina-During-The-Dirty-War-North >>insert eyeroll here<<
  • Shame.  The first national study on homeless veterans has uncovered a group of former soldiers living in shelters and on the streets, struggling with alcoholism, mental illness and a sense of being lost in the country they served. Often middle-aged and retired from the service for decades, they did not get the glory of veterans returning from the World Wars or the support new veterans get, concludes the study by two University of Western Ontario researchers. “There is this gap, a group of people who came out of the service and spiralled into alcoholism and homelessness,” said Susan Ray, assistant professor of nursing at UWO. Ray and fellow researcher Cheryl Forchuk, associate director of nursing research at UWO, make several recommendations and suggestions based on one basic principle. That principle is: “Canadian society needs to make a social covenant to care for the homeless veteran population.” The federal government has not maintained this covenant, they concluded ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Several Nova Scotia companies will likely be interested in millions of dollars of work going up for grabs on the Canadian military’s new Chinook helicopters. Boeing issued requests for information this week looking for companies that want to do maintenance training and support work on the choppers, slated for delivery in 2013. “That’s definitely something that we are pursuing,” said Carl Daniels, vice-president and general manager of Dartmouth’s Atlantis Systems Eduplus. It’s hard to determine right now what the work could be worth, Daniels said. “What exactly Boeing is sub-contracting out is still to be determined. So we don’t have a full set of requirements in the spectrum,” he said. “It could be two years worth of work or it could be 20 years worth of work.” …. ”  Boeing did something similar in Canada about 18 months ago.
  • A monument commemorating the men and women of Canada’s Air Force, past and present, was unveiled in the United Kingdom at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire (Friday).  The monument is the first in the U.K. raised specifically to honour the Royal Canadian Air Force, especially its service during the Second World War, and Canada’s modern Air Force. It was dedicated “In honour of those who serve past and present in Canadian and Commonwealth Air Elements” …. Members of the Royal Air Force and Canada’s Air Force, serving in both the U.K. and in Canada, led this historic project from concept to unveiling after Flight Lieutenant Alfie Hall, from 609 West Riding Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, visited the National Memorial Arboretum ….”
  • Wanted:  New boss for the RCMP – must live in or near Ottawa. News Highlights – 4 Jul 11

  • Afghanistan (1)  Remember this program to fast-track Afghan interpreters in danger wanting to come to Canada (previous gripes here, here, here and here)?  Here’s the latest“….Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced a special visa program two years ago to reward and protect Afghan interpreters who were critical to Canada’s military and aid missions here. Other Afghans who worked in direct support of the Canadian government in Kandahar province, as well as spouses of any who died because of it, are also eligible for visas under the special program. Kenney said in September 2009 that he expected “a few hundred” to qualify by the time the program ends this month, as the last Canadian combat troops leave. His ministry estimated applicants would only have to wait an average six months to a year. But almost two years later, only 60 Afghans have made it to Canada under the special visa program. More than 475 Afghans applied, ministry spokesperson Rachelle Bédard said from Ottawa ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  One columnist’s assessment of the state of Afghan security force training “…. After nearly a decade of training, equipping and funding the Afghan army and police, we have yet to buy their loyalty — and we never will. They are paid by foreigners to wear western-style uniforms in order to prop up a hated and corrupt regime that failed to win a democratic mandate following the farcical 2009 elections. They will continue to pocket as much NATO cash as they can. And it should be noted that Afghan soldiers make a relatively lucrative salary that is three times that of Afghan teachers. Once the U.S. and NATO countries complete the projected withdrawal of all troops by 2014, the Afghan security forces will quickly dissolve back into the private militias of warlords. One has to hope they have enough remaining loyalty in the rental agreement to secure the airfields until the last of NATO’s planes are airborne.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Outgoing troops blow off steam blowing shit up“…. “This was partly training exercise, partly an opportunity to field-test and clear out artillery before packing up the pieces, and partly — mostly, I dare say — one last chance for big boys to play with their big toys before departing a country deafened to the clatter of shelling. “That’s the most fun I’ve had since I got here,’’ roared Col. Todd Wood, commander of 1st Stryker Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, who joined the Canadian party of eight LAVs and a brace of Leopard 2 tanks on the make-shift firing range. “I fired them all,’’ boasted Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, out-going Task Force Kandahar commander, after moving along the flank of vehicles. “Hey, they’re all mine. Even the American ones are mine for another couple of days. And I’ve waited 11 months for this.’’ ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  Lotsa tanks allegedly killed in Kandahar, Zabul.
  • More on the upcoming Arctic exercise Operation Nanook 2011.
  • Canadian foreign policy, military policy getting closer?  “John Baird stepped off a stomach-churning, ear-splitting military flight from Libya, straightened his suit and walked briskly across the sun-blazed Sicilian tarmac. He went directly to address the Canadian troops on a break from their part in the NATO-led bombing campaign, taking their questions without censor, and replying with considered opinions. “We’ve got to be patient. We are making progress,” the newly-named foreign affairs minister told about 100 camouflage-clad men and women last week, shouting to be heard over the CF-18s soaring overhead. The frank exchange was more than a simple duty filled by a federal minister travelling through a military base. It tied together Canada’s foreign policy and military policy — a link that has been left untended for far too long, critics say. “I think it’s important for Canada that we more and more match what our military effort is, with the work that we need to do politically and diplomatically,” said Liberal Leader Bob Rae, who has a long history of observing Middle Eastern politics. “Frankly, I think they’re beginning to feel their way,” he said ….”
  • The Conservative government’s choice of Ontario cottage country as the 2010 G8 Summit venue offered would-be snipers “ideal conditions” to assassinate a world leader, concludes an internal RCMP review. “It must be underlined that the location for the G8 was sub-optimal from a security perspective,” says the 353-page draft report completed in late May. The hilly, wooded terrain around Huntsville, Ont., featured not only excellent vantage points for gunmen, but also covered approaches for intruders, and problematic land and water routes leading in and out of the area, found the review released to The Canadian Press in response to an Access to Information request. In addition, the decision to host the G20 Summit in Toronto immediately afterwards “added a significant planning challenge” that prompted a “complete re-examination of the G8 Summit security” due to limited resources, says the review. “No host nation has ever conducted two world summits back-to-back in geographically different locations.” ….”  No indication Canadian Press is sharing the report so you can look it over yourself.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Remember the CF looking for someone to run and maintain buildings, as well as offer food and other support services, at Canadian Forces Station Alert TwiceMaybe third time’ll be the charm.
  • What’s Canada Buying (2)  “…. The Department of National Defence has a requirement to update the host computer on the CH146 Griffon Helicopter Full Motion Flight Simulator. The purpose of this Advance Contract Award Notice (ACAN) is to signal the government’s intention to award a contract for these goods to CAE Inc., Montreal, Quebec ….” 
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  Wanted:  someone to review literature dealing with spotting IED wires and someone to develop software to process swacks of imagery information coming in.
  • He also serves who is hairy and goes “baaaaaaaaa”.  “It has been said that there is nothing more handsome than a man in uniform. Whoever said that obviously never met Batisse, the Royal 22e Regiment’s mascot — a goat. As the Duke of Cambridge inspected the regiment at Quebec’s City Hall, Batisse stood there, doing goats around the world proud, in a blue robe with the regiment’s crest. Before Will and Kate arrived, he had a few moments of animal-like behaviour, where the soldier holding his leash had to get him under control. Batisse is a Persian goat descended from the Queen’s private stock of goats. He’s number 10 in the Batisse line, depending on who you talk to. Major Jean-Francois Lacombe said the original Batisse was gifted by the Queen in 1955. The Queen kept sending goats until it became impossible because of disease, around the era of Batisse the third, Lacombe explained. The regiment then purchased their goats from British Columbia, with the same lineage. They had to write the Queen for permission. She said yes. Goat enthusiasts rejoiced. The goat means, “will to succeed,” Lacombe explained ….” News Highlights – 7 Jun 11

  • Afghanistan (1)  Let’s not jinx it, but it appears the last push is done.  “The Canadian army’s last major offensive sweep through Kandahar’s restive Panjwaii district ended quietly, almost imperceptibly, and not with the sort of thunder one might have expected on such an occasion. The two week operation, led by the Afghans and eagerly showcased by Canadians, pushed through roughly 18 objectives and dozens of wasted hamlets. It was a far cry from the fierce gun battles and rolling artillery barrages of early in the war, when the Canadians were doing the majority of the fighting — and dying ….”  The Globe & Mail’s version here.  Continue to stay safe, folks.
  • Afghanistan (2)  “…. (Afghan MP and author) Fawzia Koofi lives with the fear of death daily, but she’s optimistic Afghanistan can rebuild itself. Poverty and a lack of security are still massive problems, but she says her country is changing its perspective. “The people of Afghanistan seem to be very happy with the achievements they have had in the past ten years, like freedom of speech, media, respecting women’s rights and human rights,” says Koofi. “This is a nation in progress; it’s a nation in transformation.” She says Afghanistan is getting better at making its parliament work, but Canada could help with security. “Equipment and training for our police and army. Also, in terms of human development. We need Afghanistan to improve its human indicators like education, health.” ….”  More on Koofi’s new book here (
  • Afghanistan (3)  Big Honkin’ Dam Update.  “It is a bizarre sight in the middle of this vast and scorching desert: a tropical Eden of exotic birds and dazzling flowers enveloped in a fine cool mist, and all because of the torrents of water roaring from the Dahla Dam’s hydraulic gates. If future generations of Afghans remember anything about Canada’s five-year quest to bring security, stability and development to Kandahar, it will almost certainly be for fixing up this paradise on a plateau to the northwest of the capital of Kandahar province. Canada has invested $50 million to bring the Dahla Dam back to life and clean up 74 kilometres of irrigation canals connected to the Arghandab River. The project is to be completed by year’s end. As a result, the Arghandab’s waters will reach 70,000 hectares of farmland and 80 per cent of the people in perhaps the most violent corner of this country ….”
  • Libya Mission (1a)  Question Period response to “What’s the Mission?” from the Foreign Affairs Minister:  “…. There is no change in the military mission. The military mission was approved by the United Nations through resolutions 1970 and 1973 to protect the civilian population from attacks by Gadhafi’s forces ….”
  • Libya Mission (1b)  I guess doesn’t read Hansard.  “…. what exactly is that mission? Is it to prevent the killing of civilians by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi? Is it to prevent killings of civilians by either side? Is it to overthrow Gadhafi, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Affairs Minister recently suggested ….”  This is the same Parliamentary Secretary who said Afghanistan wasn’t a war a while back (more on that here and here), so caveat emptor on the subtle details.
  • More from Question Period:  Whazzup with Canada’s spending huge bucks shutting down its operation at UAE, but reopening a new one in Kuwait?  Following some Oxbridge pleasantries, this from the Defence Minister: “…. I can …. tell the member that his figures are completely wrong. Those numbers are completely false. What we have done, obviously, is to make arrangements to have logistic hubs in parts of the Middle East that allow us to continue the logistic support for the ongoing mission in Afghanistan. That is the intention of the department, nothing more than that ….”
  • The House of Commons also recognized 11 CF members for their hard work – congrats.
  • From the 2011 federal budget, released yesterday:  “…. As a key element of the Government’s plan to restrain the growth in overall spending and return to budgetary balance over the medium term, Budget 2010 reduced the growth in National Defence’s budget by $525 million in 2012–13 and $1 billion annually beginning in 2013–14.  The Department of National Defence used the 2010 strategic review process to examine its spending in order to realize these savings.  The Department of National Defence is making changes to streamline departmental operations, optimize efficiencies, and align programs with core missions and government priorities. As a result of these changes, the Department is better able to focus resources to achieve long-term sustainability in order to fulfill commitments made in the Canada First Defence Strategy and to deliver as capable, agile and sustainable a defence organization as possible. The Department has identified savings proposals and is on track to achieve its targeted savings ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Mark Collins spots an interesting tidbit about the CF already starting the long hunt for a replacement for the Griffon helicopter.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Canada’s shipbuilding sweepstakes are about to begin“Some of the hottest political action in Ottawa this summer will happen over massive contracts to outfit the Canadian navy and Coast Guard for years to come. At stake are thousands of jobs, but as provincial premiers rotate into Ottawa to make the case for their regions, industry lobbyists have been told to stay away. The Canadian military is buying more than 30 new ships for the navy and the coast guard, including frigates, supply ships, patrol boats and icebreakers. An estimated $35 billion worth of contracts are up for grabs as part of a strategy to cover Canada’s needs for the next three decades. Two shipyards will be picked from among four competing for the work. The deadline for proposals is July 7, and the selection process could take another two months after that. The entire procurement process could take up to two years ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  Latest from MERX:  Marksmanship training for Junior Canadian Rangers in NWT, help researching how spread-out groups can make better military decisions, and fixing plane tires.
  • Canadian sailors taking part in Exercise Sea Breeze 2011 near Ukraine.  “Ukraine and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Monday launched the Sea Breeze 2011 military exercises in South Ukraine’s Odessa and Nikolaev regions. Naval, land and air exercises under the title “Planning and carrying out the international peacekeeping operations” will be held till June 18. International anti-piracy operations at sea and on shore will be a major part of the exercises. The drills will involve around 2,400 navy personnel from 15 countries, including Ukraine, the United States, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Britain, Algeria, Denmark, Georgia, Canada, Macedonia, Moldova, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey and France ….”  More on the ex here and here.
  • AGAIN with the calls for “peacekeeping” in Africa!  Problem:  doesn’t seem to be too much peace to keep.
  • Fabien Melanson says he is willing to die on a hunger strike on Charlottetown to protest what he alleges was a mistake made by Veterans Affairs Canada which has cost him his home and nearly his life. The 15-year Canadian veteran is beginning a hunger strike in front of the VAC headquarters today to bring attention to his case. “They (Veterans Affairs) killed me in 2004 with their mistake and now all I have is the energy to bring myself here and give them my remains,” he said. “That’s all that’s left of me. I’m willing to die for this.” ….”  The VAC Minister’s response to the issue in Question Period“…. I cannot discuss the specific details of this individual case. However, I was given a mandate by the people of Lévis—Bellechasse and today, as the Minister of Veterans Affairs, I commit myself to bettering the lives of our veterans, and I count on the support of all members in the House, starting today. What took place many years ago was unfortunate and was an unacceptable mistake. Corrective measures were taken. I have instructed my officials to follow up on this veteran’s case.”  Some discussion at here.
  • The RCMP says online extremists are getting slicker.  “…. A new RCMP report says extremist groups — from Muslim radicals to violent animal rights activists to white supremacists — are employing increasingly sophisticated multimedia tools to attract a young, computer-savvy generation of followers. “Using bright colours and in some cases, illustrations stylized after children’s cartoons that seem inspired by Disney and other leading companies, the websites are visually appealing and in contrast to the malicious content they contain,” according to the report, Youth Online and at Risk: Radicalization Facilitated by the Internet. The Internet allows groups’ messages, which often contain distorted views of current events or false rumours, to be sent in near real-time to disaffected youth without filtering, the report says. Any alternative viewpoints are blocked out. These interactive tools, such as chat rooms and message boards, help to create a sense of community and belonging, and can be used to pass along operational knowledge — such as how to make a pipe bomb — to “newly inspired youth,” the report says ….”  You can find the full RCMP report here. News Highlights – 16 Mar 11

  • Some alleged terrorist bad boys, University of Manitoba alum, are being sought by the RCMP. “A four-year RCMP national security criminal investigation, known as Project Darken, has resulted in arrest warrants being issued for two former Winnipeg residents on terrorism-related charges. RCMP investigators in Winnipeg have compiled evidence that two Canadian citizens, Maiwand Yar and Ferid Ahmed Imam, conspired to travel to Pakistan for terrorist training, with plans to later join the insurgency against NATO forces in Afghanistan. Ferid Ahmed Imam, age 30, is being sought on charges of instructing to carry out terrorist activity and conspiracy to participate in activity of a terrorist group. Maiwand Yar, age 27, is being sought on charges of conspiracy to participate in activity of a terrorist group and participation in activity of a terrorist group. Both individuals are known to have traveled to Pakistan in March 2007. The current whereabouts of Maiwand Yar and Ferid Imam are unknown. These charges are being laid in absentia and Canada-wide arrest warrants have been issued for both men ….” Even CSIS’s Prairie Region boss made a statement on this one (PDF, via  More from CNN here, Agence France-Presse here,   A reminder: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Canada’s constitution, guarantees the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • A few more details on one of the chaps, courtesy of the FBI “A superseding indictment was unsealed in Brooklyn federal court yesterday charging Ferid Imam, also known as “Yousef,” with providing and conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda, aiding and abetting the terrorist training of Najibullah Zazi, Zarein Ahmedzay, and Adis Medunjanin, and using a destructive device in furtherance of crimes of violence.1 The indictment was unsealed in coordination with Canadian authorities, who earlier today announced terrorism charges against Imam, who is a Canadian citizen. According to the Eastern District indictment, Imam aided and abetted Zazi, Ahmedzay, and Medunjanin’s receipt of military-type training from al Qaeda when the three men traveled to Pakistan in 2008. Zazi, Ahmedzay, and Medunjanin subsequently returned to the United States to carry out a plot to detonate improvised explosive devices on behalf of al Qaeda. This plot was uncovered and disrupted by law enforcement authorities in September 2009. Zazi pleaded guilty to his role in the plot on February 22, 2010; Ahmedzay similarly pleaded guilty on April 23, 2010 ….”
  • Canada on a No-Fly Zone for Libya We don’t reject the idea out of hand, but there’s no consensus among G8 members yet (plus we need a U.N. Security Council resolution).
  • Interesting where some of those weapons and weapon parts Canada’s been selling ended up: “…. Almost $1.1 million worth of military goods were exported to Yemen in the reporting period. Most of those exports were aircraft, unmanned airborne vehicles and other aircraft equipment “specially designed or modified for military use.” Another $80,000 was dedicated to “specialized equipment for military training or for simulating military scenarios,” while less than $1,000 was exported to Yemen for “ammunition and fuse-setting devices, and specially designed components.” In 2009, Libya received more than $85,000 in military exports from Canada, with most of that total -$80,000 -going to military simulators ….” The full DFAIT report is here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) The federal government is planning a campaign to “better inform” Canadians about the costs of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth jets, according to one Conservative MP. The upcoming campaign comes on the heels of a report from the Parliamentary Budget Office last week that estimated the 65 jets Canada is buying could cost $29.3 billion, not the $16 billion the government had projected. But Tory MP Laurie Hawn, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of defence, said the government has “fundamental” problems with the PBO’s methodology. One of those problems is that the PBO’s estimate of the plane’s cost is based on historical data of cost-per-weight of other military aircraft. “We’re not buying a sack of potatoes here. We’re buying a high-tech piece of gear,” Hawn said. “That (methodology) may work well from a purely statistician, bean-counter perspective, but we don’t think it reflects the real-world actual costs of technology, materials or components going into the airplane. “That’s where we are coming up with our numbers, and we’re confident in them,” he added ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Meanwhile, south of the border where the F-35s are being tested/made, a government watchdog group says change is happening (but it’s also slowing things down)“DOD continues to restructure the JSF program, taking positive, substantial actions that should lead to more achievable and predictable outcomes. Restructuring has consequences–higher up-front development costs, fewer aircraft bought in the near term, training delays, and extended times for testing and delivering capabilities to warfighters. Total development funding is now estimated at $56.4 billion to complete in 2018, a 26 percent cost increase and a 5-year schedule slip from the current baseline ….” (h./t to Mark Collins for this one).
  • How Canada’s Conference of Defence Associations reads the latest government spending plan for 2011-2012 when it comes to defence (PDF).
  • Private Thomas Lawless, 1889-1917, CEF, R.I.P. “Nearly a century after his death, Private Thomas Lawless, a Canadian First World War soldier whose remains were recovered and identified on January 10, 2011, was buried today with full military honours at La Chaudière Military Cemetery, in Vimy, France …. Private Lawless was born on April 11, 1889, in Dublin, Ireland, and enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in Calgary, Alberta. He was a member of the 49th Battalion, CEF, who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.  Veterans Affairs Canada has provided support to the family members of Private Lawless and has also coordinated their participation in the interment ceremony ….” More from the Canadian Press here and Agence France-Presse here.
  • Repairing an aging federal air base in Labrador is not important for some members of the Canadian military, according to documents obtained by CBC News. “Infrastructure at Goose Bay would be an extremely low priority. Little would be accomplished at Goose Bay and infrastructure reduction measures would have to be taken,” wrote Major Nanette Fleissen in a February 2009 letter advising senior military officials about air base repairs. The internal Department of National Defence documents show the 5 Wing Goose Bay air base requires about $128-million worth of work ….” Again, I can’t find a link to any of the documents, so I guess nobody’s sharing them.
  • The national tax dollar watchdog is warning the feds not to get carried away with the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 next year. And even if a recently reported figure of $100 million for the commemoration is wrong, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is still cautioning restraint. “They’re going to have to borrow this money, whatever the costs are. Let’s be clear about this, they don’t have this money kicking around in a cookie jar marked ‘Bicentennial War of 1812 Fund’,” said Scott Hennig, the federation’s national communications director. “The government needs to be darned sure this spending is absolutely necessary. And we’re not even talking about fighting a real war here, where you might be able to justify borrowing money to go into debt, we’re talking about re-enacting one.” According to a media report Monday, the bicentennial celebrations will include re-enactments of the war’s famous battles, repairs to monuments and plaques, a national essay-writing competition, a documentary, a new visitor centre at Fort York in Toronto, and a new website dedicated to the war between the U.S. and Canada that resulted in the White House and Capital Building being burned during a British raid on Washington in 1814. A government source denounced the $100 million figure reported Monday, saying the government was planning to spend “significantly less.” Officials at the department of heritage declined interview requests from QMI Agency, but a spokesman for Heritage Minister James Moore said the government would be announcing details of the bicentennial “in due course ….” What?  No puppets with South East Asian music re-enacting the battles?  I’m crushed ….