Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Stockwell Day News Highlights – 9 Dec 10

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  • It’s that time of year again“The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan, today released the Government of Canada’s 10th quarterly report on Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan. The report covers the period from July 1 to September 30, 2010, and focuses on the progress achieved on Canada’s six priorities and three signature projects in Afghanistan, through the lens of security.  “Improving security is at the core of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan,” said Minister Cannon. “It is a factor in every element of daily life for Afghans, and has an impact on the delivery of basic services, the development of village-level governance and even the holding of national elections.” ….” Bitchiness Watch:  Guess how often the name of Canada’s Defence Minister is mentioned in the news release?  Check out the full report here.
  • The Royal Canadian Mint says a “Highway of Heroes” coin is in the works“In keeping with its proud tradition of issuing coins honouring Canada’s veterans and Remembrance, the Royal Canadian Mint today advised members of the Northumberland County Council that a collector coin commemorating the celebrated “Highway of Heroes” and Canada’s fallen in Afghanistan will once again illustrate these themes in 2011.  Further to our intention to introduce this coin at a future date, we are pleased to assure supporters of the “Highway of Heroes” that their tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice during Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan will be immortalized by the Mint in 2011 …. The Mint will report on the status of this project to the Northumberland County Council in the next four to five months and we look forward to the addition of this collector coin to a long line of Royal Canadian Mint coins honouring the men and women who proudly serve the Canadian Forces.”
  • More from the special forces conference taking place in Kingstonit’s safer having a lower profile as special forces, but it can also keep one out of the limelight when it’s time to dole out limited cash: “…. Domestic terrorism is a law-enforcement issue and the military works with Canadian intelligence, the RCMP and other police forces as it has no jurisdiction in Criminal Code matters. It considers a successful operation one in which it works at the invitation of local authorities and no one knows it was ever there.  The special forces are trying to figure out what shape that function will take with military budget cuts looming as Canada’s mission in Afghanistan winds down. An outfit whose work is secret can be an easy target for politicians who can rationalize that if no one sees it now, no one is going to notice if it is cut back ….”
  • It was a F-35 vs. Eurofighter Typhoon vs. Saab Gripen sales pitch to the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence (NDDN) this week” The makers of two different fighter jets Canada is not buying made their sales pitches anyway to Parliament’s defence committee Tuesday.  Representatives from the German-based Eurofighter Typhoon and Sweden’s Saab Gripen appeared at committee and told members their planes can meet Canada’s air force demands, and are far cheaper than the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth jet the government agreed to buy in July.  Canada intends to buy 65 F-35s for $9 billion — plus maintenance costs — to replace the aging fleet of CF-18s, with delivery expected to start in 2016.  Antony Ogilvie with Saab said they could supply Canada with 65 upgraded Gripens, with 40 years of maintenance costs included, for under $6 billion.  The Liberals have vowed, if elected, to cancel what they decry as a sole-sourced deal to buy the American F-35, and instead would open up the new jet purchase to a competition ….” More from QMI/Sun Media here.  More industry reps in front of the committee today as well.
  • Meanwhile, Canada’s Defence Minister Peter MacKay on the F-35sThe decision to buy is “firm”, and they’ll be on time, on budget.
  • In other jet flogging news: “Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day made a stop at a River Road facility (in British Columbia) last Friday that will manufacture components for the highly advanced Joint Strike fighter jet.  At the Asco Aerospace Ltd. plant, many military aircraft parts and the machinery that produces them were off limits to cameras, including some sensitive materials that were covered up, as the president of the Treasury Board and minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway announced the funding initiative.  Day said the company would receive a loan, called a “repayable investment” by the federal government, of $7.7 million toward a $19 million project that involves researching and developing innovative manufacturing technologies to produce aircraft bulkheads and specialized metal components ….”
  • Canada’s Auditor General is taking at how the New Veterans Charter was put into place“Auditor General Sheila Fraser is planning to investigate the New Veterans Charter and the lump-sum payments that became a flashpoint for growing numbers of wounded soldiers returning from Afghanistan. Fraser confirmed her planned audit in a Dec. 7 letter to Liberal Senator Percy Downe who pressed her office for an audit since studies came to light that predicted the new lump-sum disability payments would mean less money for veterans and save up to $40 million a year. “I’m concerned this became a cost-saving exercise rather than a service to veterans,” said Downe. In the letter, Fraser said the issue “is an important one” for her office and auditors responsible for Veterans Affairs are planning an audit on “aspects” of the charter. Her office expects to deliver the report on the audit in the fall of 2012 …. “ More from here.
  • Parliamentarians also took some heat (again) from Canada’s Auditor General over less-than-ideal helicopter buying processes“…. Canada’s favourite watchdog has again slammed National Defence for bungling two helicopter purchases.  Auditor General Sheila Fraser reiterated to Parliament’s public accounts committee Tuesday what she wrote in her fall report — that National Defence “underestimated and understated” the costs and complexities of both the Cyclone and Chinook helicopters, and in the latter’s case, failed to hold an “open, fair, or transparent” procurement process.  None of the new helicopters have been delivered.  Also, Fraser’s audit of the two defence purchases found National Defence failed to follow its own purchasing guidelines and failed to fully appreciate what these helicopters would actually cost.  “We found that National Defence underestimated and understated the complexity and developmental nature of these helicopters, describing both as non-developmental and using off-the-shelf technologies,” Fraser said Tuesday, adding modifications required to meet Canada’s needs has led to costly delays ….” A bit more in the A-G’s news release from 26 Oct 10 here.
  • CF “to say sorry for Mohawk inclusion in counter-insurgency manual”:   “ The Canadian military is expected to officially apologize early next year for including the Mohawk Warrior Society in a draft version of the military’s counter-insurgency manual (PDF), APTN National News has learned.  The text of the apology has been approved by the upper echelons of the military command, but details still need to be worked out on how to deliver the statement and on how big of an event should be staged.  A draft 2006 version of the military’s counter-insurgency manual was released publicly in March 2007 and it included a reference to the Mohawk Warrior Society in a section describing different types of insurgencies.  First Nations leaders immediately reacted with anger, saying it appeared to equate First Nations with terrorist groups like Hezbollah and the Taliban.  The apology is expected to be delivered in either January or February.  The Assembly of First Nations and representatives from Akwesasne are involved in the discussions ….”
  • Does Canada need a plane just for counterinsurgencies?
  • The Canadian Forces now has uniform rules for men becoming women and vice versa“…. the Canadian Forces have issued a new policy detailing how the organization should accommodate transsexual and transvestite troops specifically. Soldiers, sailors and air force personnel who change their sex or sexual identity have a right to privacy and respect around that decision, but must conform to the dress code of their *target* gender, says the supplementary chapter of a military administration manual …. Added as a chapter to a National Defence manual, the new document defines transsexual as someone with a psychological need to live as a member of the opposite sex, whether they have undergone sex-change surgery or not. Their unit must treat them with the “utmost privacy and respect,” meaning, for instance, that there is no need to explain why a person’s sex is being changed in computer records.  A transsexual service person must comply with the dress code and standards of deportment of the gender to which he or she is changing, the document says. It draws the line, though, at retroactively changing the name associated with any medals awarded to the individual before their change, saying “there is no legal authority for rewriting history.” ….” More on that here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Almost 90 claimed killed in Kandahar, Zabul, and Taliban Info-Machine’s trying out direct, unsolicited e-mails to media outlets.

G8/G20 Security Highlights, 21 Jun 10

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A bit more information is coming out about the men charged with the Ottawa bank firebombing, via the Ottawa Citizen:

…. Police arrested Claude Frederic Haridge, 50, on his way to work near Hunt Club Road Friday. Haridge, an engineer, has been building circuit boards since he was 14, when he used to salvage parts from the garbage and cart them home in a little wagon …. Haridge, described as a friendly neighbour, is a former student of ex-University of Ottawa physics professor Denis Rancourt who taught a controversial course on activism before he was let go by the university. In 2007, the university de-registered twin 10-year-old boys who had enrolled in Rancourt’s Science in Society class. Haridge, a fellow student, rose to the defence of the twin boys. He wrote letters to the school in support of his young classmates. Haridge has also sent letters to newspapers critical of government. And he has demonstrated against Israeli attacks on Palestinians ….

Roger Clement, 58, was also arrested and faces arson charges. Clement is a retired public servant, whose last job was at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) …. The Citizen tracked down and met with Clement on May 26. The late-night meeting took place on Bank Street and Clement arrived with an entourage, which included a third firebombing suspect, Matthew Morgan Brown, the youngest of the trio, and believed to be in his early 30s. Morgan Brown is a well-known activist. He has been arrested during prior protests at the 2007 Montebello Summit and during a 2004 visit to Ottawa by former U.S. president George W. Bush …. Until the retired public servant was arrested, he spent some of his free time at a coffee shop in Chinatown, considered a meeting place for Ottawa’s anti-establishment network, which protests big business, world government summits, and cuts to welfare ….

On a related note, a bit of alleged “solidarity action” in Montreal (PDF of post and comments at here) to show support for the three arrested in Ottawa (highlights mine):

Yesterday morning (Friday) the police arrested 3 people in Ottawa, saying that they are our dear ones, the FFFC. Yesterday evening, we broke windows and wrote our solidarity on the wall of the RBC on Sherbrooke, corner Victoria. Innocent or guilty, we are in solidarity with the arresteds. Fuck the banks. Fuck the police. Fuck the prisons. No repression without response. Solidarity means attack.

-The Support Committee – Night Tendency
[Keep it simple my friends…]

Hier matin la police a arrêté 3 gens à Ottawa, disant qu’ils sonts nos chéris, le FFFC. Hier soir, on a cassé des vitres et écrit notre solidarité sur le mur du RBC sur Sherbrooke, coin Victoria. Innocents ou coupables, on est solidaire avec les arrêtés. Fuck les banques. Fuck la police. Fuck les prisons. Aucun répression sans réponse. La solidarité, ca va dire l’attaque.

Hmm, can’t see why things like the highlighted bits would worry anyone – just peaceful protest, right?

Some security guards nervous? (Highlights mine)

…. Tear gas, rocks and eggs filled with urine are only some of the safety risks guards take if they go into work next weekend. Sunil Ram, CEO Executive Security Services International – a private firm working both summits, has spoken with security guards who have voiced uncertainties. He said some have scheduled their vacation time during the summit, while others might call in sick. “They just don’t want nothin’ to do with it. It’s just going to be too volatile of a situation, very unpredictable,” he said. “They don’t want any part of it because of the unknown factors. So, they just want to stay home.” ….

What appears to be a new (first Tweet available posted Saturday), pretty active Twitter feed from @FortressToronto is sharing pretty detailed information:

@ericpartington: Lovely, at last count 36 opp bike cops have gone by with 10 paddy wagons. Makes #g20 feel really good” #FortressToronto

@640k: Cool geotagged gallery of #g20 surveillance cameras in Toronto:” #FortressToronto

@proserv: Toronto’s Summit fence. Massive police presence. #cdnpoli” #FortressToronto

Speaking on the Sunday news shows, Canada’s Treasury Board President Stockwell Day puts it into perspective:

“I think it shows the unfortunate power that a small group of thugs has,” Day told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday. “And when I’m talking about thugs I’m talking about thugs, I’m talking about the anarchists and the violent groups who have already indicated that they’re going to be there and they’re going to cause trouble.”

For more from all sides,
check out the page o’ links here.

Someone’s FINALLY Looking Into Canada’s Next Steps in AFG

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Ever heard of the House of Commons Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan?  The over-simplified description of the group is a team of MPs who meet to discuss Afghanistan stuff.

I just checked out the minutes from their 30 Sept 09 meeting, and looky what they’ve agreed to (highlights mine):

“1. That meetings of the Special Committee on Canada’s mission to Afghanistan now take place on Wednesday afternoons from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., in order to accommodate the changes made to the rotational committee schedule covering the period from September 2009 to December 2009.

2. That the Special Committee review Canada’s development effort in Afghanistan with a focus on the six priorities, political reconciliation and the status of women; and that members of the Committee submit to the Clerk, as soon as possible, their lists of suggested witnesses for the study.

3. That all members of the Special Committee travel in 2009 to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and possibly to Europe; and that the Clerk, in consultation with the Chair, prepare a travel budget for approval by the Committee and the Board of Internal Economy prior to seeking permission to travel from the House of Commons.

4. That the Hon. Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, be invited to appear before the Special Committee on Wednesday, October 7, 2009, for the full two-hour meeting, in order to discuss the fifth quarterly report on Canada’s Engagement in Afghanistan that was presented in the House of Commons on Tuesday, September 15, 2009.”

My initial observations:

1)  Good to see SOMEONE at least looking like they’re thinking about next steps down the road.

2)  Looks like a lot of Air Miles to be racked up before the end of December for the august Special Committee members.

3)  It’ll be interesting to see what the final list o’ witnesses will look like.

4)  I note the Minister of Defence hasn’t been invited to talk about the latest quarterly update, and that the Special Committee is reviewing  “Canada’s development effort in Afghanistan” – more signs of the civilianization of the mission.

More, as I find it…

UPDATE: Here’s a bit more about what’s being said around the House of Commons about the mission.

Guess Who’s Missing…

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….from the statement announcing the latest update on Canada’s mission in Afghanistan?

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6 June 09 at 7:14

“CAN’s Civilianization of AFG Mission” Update

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The latest “less military, more civilian” tea leaves to be read.

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19 March 09 at 6:15

CAN Mission: Less Green, More Civvy

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More signs of Canada painting the mission in Afghanistan as more of a civilian one than a military one.

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8 March 09 at 10:27