The repression of journalists in Montreal and Quebec in general, is a symptom of the massive and systematic repression of freedom of expression province-wide by government and police forces. On May 18 2012, Law 78 was passed, which unconstitutionally forbade free assembly. This law was morphed literally over night into municipal bylaw P-6 which has been used to incredible effect to deny the Quebec population some of the most fundamental rights guaranteed by the Canadian constitution and Quebec’s own Charte des droits et libertés. This has been enforced by massive police violence, political profiling, and a generalized climate of repression.
1st May, 2013 500 peaceful marchers “Kettled” participating in the world wide celebration of Workers Day
Montréal riot line May 1st
Montréal public buses used to transport detainees may 1st after 5 hours of being held on the street
Hour four of being held with no water or bathrooms. Have a close look at these “dangerous extremists”
Anti police brutality demonstration “Kettled after 10 minutes
It is in this climate that journalists must operate in Montréal. Journalists at all levels, from major mainstream chains to small independent media, have been physically attacked, profiled and arrested systematically by police forces in Québec, notably on the streets of Montréal. I believe this issue affects all Canadians as an affront to the fundamental liberties of any of our citizens is a danger to us all. This issue has not penetrated the Canadian consciousness in the way it should; as an issue of fundamental national importance in the era of RCMP surveillance and Bill-C51. What is happening here is a frightening prelude to what we may face society wide in Canada. I sincerely hope that Canadian Journalists for Free Expression will take the lead in bringing this issue the national attention it requires. To enforce the urgency of this matter I would call your attention to the fact that on December 18th an under cover officer pulled his charged firearm on unarmed demonstrators.
(*Authors note: The CJFE has shown amazing support for Journalists in Montréal and continues to do so)
Physical assault In the last 5 years in Montreal assaults on Journalists have become common practice. This includes constantly having “less than lethal”weapons often fired directly at us, pepper spray, and direct physical assault.
Arrest Members of the media have been repeatedly arrested and processed under the P-6 bylaw or 500.1 of the QC highway code. This has been done with the direct intent of preventing coverage of their actions.
Blocking/ denying access Police have repeatedly blocked media access, pushing as back hundreds of meters to enforce their “security zone”. They deliberately use their vehicles to block filming or pictures even from that distance.
Profiling The police have repeatedly profiled certain media outlets as being “trouble makers” and have openly blocked their access to any event.
Intimidation There has been an attempt by the police to intimidate members of the media by following them outside media events, using the journalists full name or other personal info, there have also been many direct threats of arrest or physical harm delivered by individual officers. Conclusion
I have concentrated on recent examples with some historical context. Full testimony’s and more historical video Annex 1
Its a cold, windy, crappy day in Calgary. Perfect for staying in, watching some football and drinking a beer. My favorite beer on a day like this is stout. Something big to take your time with and enjoy.
Baird Beer’s Dark Sky is a Russian imperial stout. Its heavy on the alcohol at 10% it’s medium body, roasted chocolate, coffee, slightly sweet malty flavour keeps it from feeling that it has that much alcohol. Smooth drinking with fine carbonation and a hoppy aftertaste, its perfect for a day like today.
The last few Hours have seen a stunning coup in Turkey. This wasn’t a surprise to everyone this was expertly planned and executed. The chief of staff is under arrest and internet and phones have been cut. President Erdogan is in hiding and martial law has been declared all within a scant few hours.
The amount of planning an operation like this would take under the noses of their own Government and NATO allies is staggering but it is obvious that it was backed throughout the military from its resourcing and It also isn’t outside the realm of possibility that Erdogan’s dreams of a return to Ottoman greatness, or his recent rapprochement with Russia, have displeased some in the western power elite so that this incredibly well oiled coup may not be completely homegrown. It is worth noting that Fethullah Gülen the prime suspect behind the coup lives in self imposed exile in the United States. Many have reported that he has strong links to American Central Intelligence. Nuri Gundes a former high ranking Turkish intelligence officer has made this claim repeatedly. If true it is reminiscent of Libya’s Khalifa Haftar, an ex CIA asset who helped turn Libya into the paradise it is today
What this means for Turkey’s ongoing struggle with the Kurds and its role in Syria and NATO remains to be seen. Canadian troops are currently training the Kurdish forces in Iraq in the fight against ISIS. This is seen as a grave threat by many in the Turkish military as the Kurds claimed homeland would cut a large chunk out of southern Turkey.
Authors’ note. In an earlier version of this story I mistakenly asserted Mr Marshall had been charged with unlawful confinement. He has actually been charged with “confining” the property not the people. I apologize for the error it is mine alone.
On the 3rd of May 2016, ironically international press freedom day, Cori Marshall a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, member of the board of CUTV a university media outlet that has existed for 30 years and his colleague Ion Etxebarria were arrested while covering a story. They have subsequently been charged with criminal mischief section430(1) c) (4) b) , Forcible detainer section 73, Illegal protest section 66 of the criminal code of Canada. Mr Marshall and his colleague could face jail if convicted If this prosecution is successful it will be a body blow to press freedom in this country.
Mr Marshall was filming an occupation of an office of Immigration Canada in Montréal . Mr Marshall was covering this event as a journalist. He is a member in good standing of the Canadian Association of Journalists. He did not plan the demonstration, he was not participating in the demonstration he was fulfilling the function of the Fifth estate covering a story of public interest. the following video was shot by Mr Marshall and streamed live to the web during the protest.
At 1:28 in the video Cori is forcibly taken outside. He is then releasedand allowed to keep filming The SPVM didn’t do this to any actual demonstrators just him at. After he is outside Cori goes to the west side of the building, he is followed by an SPVM officer who then tells him to go out from starting at 10:36 on the video. Cori’s partner inside heard the police inside ask , by name about Cori’s whereabouts and if he had been arrested yet( That gentleman’s testimony will follow tomorrow) Cori follows the policeman to the front where a section of police recieve’sa phone call and he was arrested, sequence starts at about 14:30 till the end of the video. Mr Marshall was an authorized member of CUTV news, a university backed org in existence for 30 years. press badge and working to cover the event live. He complied with all police orders and did not participate in the demonstrators actions at all
Mr Marshall was at all times clearly marked as press, he is well known as a journalist by the SPVM. At no time did he pose a threat to anyone,he certainly confined no one. He complied with police orders, he didn’t resist when without warning he was physically removed from the protest site inside the office. He continued to film outside at a respectful distance until he was arrested and thrown over the hood of a police vehicle. He was taken to a downtown police station and charged with criminal mischief. On June 23rd when he went to the court to receive his proforma he learned he was also being charged with Forcible Detainer,
This is not the Montréal polices first foray into press suppression. the report here contains numerous accounts of the brutal treatment of journalists in Québec . Journalists here, both mainstream and alternative have faced everything from viscous assault to hours of Illegal confinement and spurious, unconstitutional charges.
In September I helped organize a sit down between Montreal police and independent Journalists in the city. The meeting involved senior commanders from the communications and interventions sections of the police. It was mediated by Tom Henniffer executive director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. The meeting was difficult to arrange and was cancelled by Commander Ian Lafrenièr, head of communications at the time for the SPVM, at the last minute because we where planning a press conference afterward. He expressed the opinion that speaking to the press about a meeting dealing with freedom of the press was a violation of our “agreement”. Nevertheless at this meeting Commander Ian Lafrenièr agreed to end the arbitrary arrest and assault of Journalists by the SPVM. We agreed to continue the policy we had always followed of never interfering with police operations, obeying within reason and whenever possible while still doing our jobs, lawful police orders.
Mr Cori Marshall followed police orders , he did not struggle even when frogmarched out the door and streaming live to the internet he has the video to prove it. And yet for the first time Journalists face serious criminal charges for doing their job, for covering an event of public interest. A further danger here is that the behavior seems to be part of a conscious effort to stifle the coverage of protests as part of a wider strategy to deny citizens the right to protest at all. For five years the police in Québec have used brutal tactics to suppress dissent. These have been for the most part absolutely peaceful demonstrations.
This is a vital issue for any citizen who values their place and power in our society. We already suffer from media being controlled by a very few and our news being transformed into entertainment . Any real attempt at democracy requires an informed engaged public, a free and independent press is the guardian of this right to the realities of our governance it is absolutely vital if we wish to have a just society. But the only guardian of that free an independent press is the power of the citizen to ensure that legislators provide for and enforce its freedom to operate. Both Cori Marshall and his colleague Ion Etxebarria were volunteering their time to live-stream this event because it is an issue in the public interest and in the interest of their community and they passionately believe that interest must be served. Now the public and the community need to be as passionate in their defense.
Je suis une ancienne TDS. J’ai décidé d’arrêter il y a quelque mois et de me retrouver un emploi normal, une vie normale et un monde normal. Il y a plusieurs mois que je voulais arrêter, mais la vie ne semblait pas être de mon côté. Je me suis tournée vers des groupes de soutient envers les travailleuses du sexe et j’ai eue un choc.
Les femmes à qui je demandais de l’aide essayaient de me manipuler en me disant que j’étais une victime d’un système patriarcal. Que j’avais été abusée. Un instant, tu ne me connais pas et tu m’inventes des histoires pour me faire peur ? J’ai commencé la prostitution à 25 ans, car j’avais besoin d’argent et j’étais sur l’aide sociale pour ne pas me ramasser dans la rue. J’ai été escorte 3 ans. J’ai eu quelque “downs” plus alcoolisé que d’habitude, mais je n’ai jamais…
Some Québec Environmentalists and activists reaction to the scenario, Featuring Ellen Gabriel, Greenpeace Canada, and Filmmaker Olivier Asselin.
From February 8th to March 6th this year Canadian Forces conducted exercise Réaction Royal 2016. This exercise involved the entire 2nd Division, all the regular and reserve force units in Québec. The government’s DND website states; “The goal of the exercise is to confirm the abilities of Joint Task Force East to plan and conduct joint, national and inter agency operations during a humanitarian crisis.”The real scenario is somewhat darker. According to Canadian Forces spokesman the exercise scenario began with the sinking of a large cruise ship off the north coast of Québec. As the Canadian Forces start to deploy to help with rescue and recovery it is discovered that the ship was sunk by “terrorists.” In the exercise just as this is being discovered, “cells of the same group start attacking bases in southern Québec (St Jean sur Richelieu and Bagotville),” according to forces spokespeople. The problem here is that these fictional villains were not soldiers of the caliphate fighting for ISIS, according to Canadian Armed Forces spokespeople I interviewed, they were environmentalists.
This fictional battle against environmentalists was not just fought by the Canadian Forces. This was a “whole of government” response exercise involving the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service(CSIS), Communication Security Establishment Canada(CSEC, the NSA north), Royal Canadian Mounted Police,(RCMP), The Sûreté du Quebec(Québec provincial police) and the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal(SPVM).
Part of this fictional battle took place in cyber space with a fictional reservist leaking classified information on Facebook, and the use of social media to track down the cells of these fictional enviro-terrorists. To keep things exciting the cells of “environmental terrorists,” buzzed CF bases with drones and tried to infiltrate them by force. Canadian Forces members dressed in civilian cloths where used as crisis actors. As Quoted in “49 Nord,”
The scenario for Canadian Forces exercise Reaction Royale 2016
A radical ecological group, determined to undermine the credibility of the federal government and of the military by reducing their capability to maintain order, has started to conduct actions in the Arctic. Targeting mainly military installations as well as infrastructures critical to the province of Québec, the group could gather expansion in other provinces. Overwhelmed by a sinking in northern Quebec, the authorities asked the Canadian Armed Forces to intervene to support them and help in the humanitarian aid to the populations. Several cells are active in the south, in Greater Montreal and in the Sagueny
“In the Reserve Force, we all have another job as a civilian. We bring support to law enforcement forces , so this is known territory to me, I don’t just act like I know what I’m doing. In my other job, I am the commander of the tactical intervention Group of the Montréal Police ».
Lieutenant-colonel David Shane, Commander of the 4th Battalion Royal 22e Regiment
Translated from French by Manon Levesque
The exercise was run out of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) in Ottawa, and it was a nationally resourced exercise which means the entire resources of the government could be activated as needed. This model for whole of government operations coordinated by the Armed Forces was worked out in Afghanistan over 10 years of counter insurgency. To be clear an operation like this would involve all the divisional assets; military intelligence teams sitting in rooms beside their RCMP, CSIS, CSEC, SQ, and SPVM colleagues tracking down these wayward environmentalists with the Joint Task Force 2 and Canadian Special Operations regiment on hand to practice planning to neutralize them once located.
The premise of the exercise scenario, that an environmental group would sink a large cruise liner is unlikely to say the least. Given that these large ships carry thousands of liters of various fuel oils and other chemicals, and with some of these ships carrying 5000+ passengers and crew the human toll would be unimaginable. There is however some logical basis, albeit twisted, for this aspect of the scenario. The North West Passage will for the first time be a route for cruise ships as the fast disappearing arctic ice, caused by fossil fuel driven climate warming, allows freer passage. The Government has been concerned as we have little capability to intervene in the event of an actual nautical disaster at these latitudes. Ships transiting this route face many dangers from icebergs to unpredictable weather that have nothing to do with bomb happy environmentalists who would inexplicably cause an environmental disaster to avert one.
Canadian environmental groups have no history of violence against persons. The “violent acts” against property they have committed barely rise to the level of simple vandalism. In fact the RCMP have more of a history of violent action against pipelines than environmental groups as seen in “Operation Kabriole”. So while it is an excellent idea for the Canadian Forces to practice deploying to assist with cruise ships in trouble in the Arctic the addition of the enviro-terrorist angle is disturbingly unjustified.
Lets move on to the “attacks by other cells on bases in the south.” The idea that environmental groups would attack Armed Forces bases is absolutely spurious. According to this scenario after creating an environmental disaster of their own by sinking the cruise ship, environmental groups start attacking bases including St Jean and Bagotville. Last I looked the Forces are not in the business of energy extraction. I can find no record of any social action group “attacking” the Army. Without exception environmental groups I spoke to repudiated the idea that they would attack any persons or group violently, and there is no historical example of anything remotely similar.
This is not however the first sign of this trend. It was widely reported that military intelligence was tracking the “Idle no more,” movement through 2013. It is important to remember the Armed Forces is not a law enforcement agency. The government book that
tells members of the forces what their jobs are lists the occupation of the Infantry as “to close with and destroy the enemy,” and apparently the enemy is us. Just this week it was revealed that the Canadian Forces has requested Communications Security Establishment to help it track an individual for a domestic operation
Given the resistance to the energy east pipeline in Québec the timing of the exercise is suspicious to be sure. But again to be clear the most “violent” thing protesters have done is to lock themselves to pipeline pumping stations. Surely, at most a matter for local police not the Canadian Army. Unfortunately, what this does do is habituate the members of the Armed Forces to think of their fellow citizens as potential threats. When soldiers are trained to use a rifle they fire at a figure 11 target. The figure 11 target is in the shape of a human , the brutal logic being that if you get someone used to lining up a human figure and pulling the trigger they wont think about it when ordered to do it for real. One wonders if the same logic is at play here. The CF carry out a wide range of difficult and dangerous functions. Their time would perhaps be better spent practicing some of those rather that training for a scenario that has absolutely no historical basis and is about as likely as an armed revolt in Medicine Hat.
One of the most troubling aspects of the exercise is its whole of government flavor. It has been awhile since the government, notably the RCMP, have swung their gaze to thwarting social\environmental movements
here in Canada. They have even developed their own language to make the threat seem more sinister when talking to their political masters. Anyone supporting any cause they find unpalatable is not an activist they are a “multi-issue extremist”. Any peaceful action be it a banner drop or a peaceful march is a “non-violent attack scenario”. And again military intelligence tracked the quite peaceful Idle No More protests. It is highly troubling that the Forces are being involved. The Forces have a very legitimate and long role of intervening in actual disasters from Red River floods, Québec ice storms, to the recent fires in Alberta. This is a vital and much needed role in our harsh northern wilderness. And perhaps military intelligence would have been better occupied discovering that much of ISIS’s oil was flowing through turkey in long vehicle convoys. A fact they seemed to miss until the Russian Air Force pointed it out. Let them practice these tasks instead of participating in this sweaty secret policeman’s fantasy
For those in you in Canada worried about the possibility of bill C-51 bringing on a police state in your country let me introduce you to the reality in the streets of Montréal,in your country. The Canadian Police state isn’t coming, its here. Its been tested on the streets of Québec and it is ready for export to your town or city. Your first glimpse of your new reality may come in the form of police Kettling. Let me explain.
Your marching down the street of your town. Maybe you don’t want a pipeline going through your backyard, maybe you don’t want more government cuts to social programs jeopardizing your children’s future, whatever motivates you. You could be with your children ,your grandfather and a large peaceful group of your friends. But wait you don’t have the permission of your town’s police to march. This permission is granted, or not, by your local police. They need give you no reason for refusing and there is no appeal. So lets say you feel that your cause is to important to let city hall bureaucracy get in the way. You’re a peaceful, responsible citizen. You’re obviously not a threat or a terrorist. So you begin your march.
Hundreds of armored police will surround you and your friends while you march. They will then charge you at full speed, slamming riot batons on their shields like roman legionaries. They will smash into you and keep compressing you into a rough circle. They do this by by clubbing you with batons,violently shoulder blocking you with their shields. Many of these police are the size of CFL players and are armored and padded from head to foot, and still carrying firearms. You may find some of them pointing menacing looking weapons at your head and face, but don’t worry. These are “less than lethal”weapons which ,as we have learned, will likely only take out an eye, break half your jaw, or leave you in a coma for a few days.
Everyone is then held with no further explanation on the street, literally the police in the circle around, you will not acknowledge you or speak to you. If you approach them they are
likely to violently surge at you, club you repeatedly until you stumble back bloodied. You will have no food water or access to bathrooms So from 2- 5 or more hour you will be forcibly held in these conditions. At some point a vague and incomprehensible text will be read to you by loudspeaker informing you as to the reason for your group arrest experience. You, and hundreds of your friends will then have all your possesions taken from you and put in bags. The police will the thoughtfully give you a free pair of plastic cuffs. Your adventure in modern democracy isnt over yet. You will be treated to a free long distance bus ride in from your local transit authority, possibly ending at the most remote police station your town has to offer in the early hours of the morning.
You get to keep your exiting police plastic cuffs for the many more hours it will take to process. Now if you start to feel impatient at this point remember there are 100’s of you and it takes time to, illegally photograph you return your confiscated belongings. The police then write you what amounts in legal terms to a 700$ parking ticket for violating the P-6 municipal bylaw. You are not provided with a free bus ride home. And for all this excitement you have to do no more than participate peacefully in any march they consider illegal
And don’t worry that the illegal mug shot being the only souvenir of your Kettlle experience. The police will also deploy photographers and vidoegrahers .To film and photograph you and your friends throughout your entire day , while you gather, as you march.. This is to facilitate the targeting and profiling of individuals. Not because you have committed criminal acts but because you might be an organizer. Your police will have a book filled with pictures and descriptions of individuals to be subjected to targeted arrests. And don’t worry you’ll get copies to take home, after being run through high end image recognition software so they can pinpoint you in every photo and video clip, as the proof of your offense. Not only police footage but everything their agents can scour off You tube and mainstream media. Have a nice march.
The government is counting on you’re ignorance of the fact that if you attend a rally to save your local forest you have likely been observed, identified and added to the list of « multi-issue extremists ». Since 2007 the RCMP and other security services started referring to activists very deliberately in this way. A peaceful march or banner drop is a « non violent attack strategy ». This is a very deliberate move to be able to easily define those who protest or are socially active within the bounds of the Harper governments anti-terror laws. A non – exhaustive list of groups already deemed a threat and monitored by RCMP would include Idle No More, ForestEthics, Sierra Club, EcoSociety, LeadNow, Dogwood Initiative, Council of Canadians and the People’s Summit, according to documents obtained under FOI requests by Professors Kevin Walby and Jeffrey Monaghan. Documents they obtained further stated that
“The Canadian law enforcement and security intelligence community have noted a growing radicalized faction of environmentalists who advocate the use of criminal activity to promote the protection of the natural environment,” “It is highly probable that environmentalists will continue to mount direct actions targeting Canada’s energy sector, specifically the petroleum sub-sector and the fossil and nuclear fueled electricity generating facilities, with the objectives of: influencing government energy policy, interfering within the energy regulatory process and forcing the energy industry to cease its operations that harm the environment,”
If, gentle reader, you found this disturbing then this next part should truly terrify you.
The Federal government security services, the RCMP and CSIS, has been on the ground in Québec since well before the start of the student strike in 2012. In 2010 the RCMP under their Integrated National Security Enforcement Team program, arrested four members of the ASSÉ a month after peaceful sit ins in the offices of the minister of finance and the minister. they where interrogated by the RCMP and CSIS. They where charged with offenses to do with allegedly breaking some furniture and an accusation of roughing up a secretary. But when the crown turned over the proof to the ASSÉ members lawyer according to Gabriel Naduea Dubois, recent winner of the Governor General of Canada’s award for literature for his book on the student strike, ” it was obvious that they must have been listening to our phone calls..reading our emails for months.”
So the federal government was targeting a Québec students two years before they went on strike ,so police in Québec arent gentle with demonstrators,so what? The RCMP INSET group that targeted them has branches in every city in Canada. It provides in the words of Asst. Commissioner Gilles Michaud the man who started the program after attending the FBI academy in Quantico Virginia seamless RCMP run integration of your local police force with, CSIS, Border Security,National Defense Intelligence, and the Canadian Securoty Establishment. This former part of the Canadian forces has had budget increases on the order of 400%. American homeland security is also included under the security arrangements made immediately after 9\11. There is no doubt these teams are at this moment monitoring groups in every province in the country. The police tactics seen in Montréal have been passed on . Ian Lafreiniere the spokesman for the Montréal police bragged to me that they” trained forces from all over Canada,”. Transforming police who serve a vital function in social peaceinto a tool for political repression, will havenegative consequences that are hard to forsee. The P-6 bylaw, or whatever they call the bylaw in your town that was intended to quell legitimately dangerous and violent hockey riots and the like, is a municipal infraction. Because you’re not considered a criminal,despite your violent treatment, you are not even entitled to legal aid or the same protections applied to criminal offenses.
The new bill C-51 will introduce many of these tactics at a federal level so we can enjoy them all over Canada. These include the laying of restrictive conditions to prevent free association and movement And they have learned from their experience so far. one of their greatest problems arises from the new independent and social media. So Bill C-51 includes provisions in it that might make reporting of activist actions “glorifying Terorrism”.
It is the use of these terms to refer to what we traditionally call activists, coupled with the language of the new legislation is a hand and glove fit to repress anyone the government finds unhelpful to their agenda. Be it resource extraction, or destroying whats left of Canada’s social covenant. Together with the policing tactics they have been working to perfect on the streets of Montréal none of us will recognize our society unless we act now, forcefully, and together.
Because my fellow citizens we are not in danger of becoming a repressive police state. We are already there.
Finally almost 6 months after the election the Liberal government has announced its policy on Canada’s role in the growing maelstrom in the middle east. While there was talk of “capacity building” and a commitment to humanitarian aid, the military part of Mr Trudeau’s earnest sounding speech speech is completely disingenuous. The fact of the matter is “equipping, advising and assisting” is a combat mission.
Canadians need to understand very clearly that we are stepping farther into this fight, the consequences of which could be nothing short of cataclysmic. From the continued horrendous suffering of the Syrian people, which is seeing bodies of whole families washing up on European shores, to the possibility of igniting a huge regional conflict if the Kurdish forces we are training and equipping claim their homeland by forcibly cutting off pieces of Turkey, Iran Syria and Iraq,. The possibility of sparking a clash between NATO and the Russian Federation, highlighted by Turkeys shooting down of a Russian jet should be of massive concern to any sane human. At huge risk also is Canada’s basic sovereignty in military and Foreign policy.
I was a Canadian soldier for ten years. Training whole units for combat operations of necessity involves leading and assisting them in battle. General Vance Chief of the Defense Staff warned as much at the Liberal press briefing ,
“We want Canadians to know that we will be involved in engagements as we defend ourselves and those partners who we are working with,” Gen. Vance later told reporters. “You put more people on the ground in a dangerous place, it is riskier over all.” General Vance Chief of Defense Staff , February 8th, 2016
Sgt Dorian pictured above was killed on the front line in Iraq last year. He was killed by mistake, apparently by the very Kurdish troops he was leading. The fact he and his unit were working on the front line during an engagement should be instructive to Canadian’s about what Mr Trudeau means when he says “advise and assist”. Witness also the recent assertion by Maj.-Gen. Charles Lamarre, director strategic joint staff, that Canadian advisers played a vital leadership role in defending then retaking ground near Mosul on December 16th of last year. In plain English that means putting rounds down range for Canadian special forces, it means Canadian soldiers personally leading platoon sized units into the fire of the enemy. There is evidence of the immediate ramping up of their operations as the CF announced this week the deployment from 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron of additional specialist Griffon helicopters. The highly aggressive troops of the JTF2 are preparing to go on the offensive. The fact is we are excellent at this task, far more skilled than our American cousins, and that is why the Obama administration and the US pentagon have welcomed Canada’s new mission.
JTF2 will mostly be involved, as they have been, in training and leading the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. This is of huge concern. The Kurds have been fighting since the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 divided their Territory between the new Turkish State, Iran, and the Sykes-Picot creations, Iraq and Syria. The area they claim as their homeland involves territory of all these countries. The Kurds have been fighting Turkey for autonomy since 1974 with a campaign of insurgent attacks. This has now resulted in the insane situation; NATO member Turkey, bombing both ISIS and Kurdish positions since this last November. Iran has grave concerns for the rise of Kurdish separatism even though in the fight against Sunni ISIS they are allies for now. Given the murkiness of Kurdish internal politics it is hard to predict the eventual outcome. This hasn’t stopped us from creating within the Kurdish movements a military capacity they have never had, and we continue to arm them to the teeth. Turkey is now threatening a land invasion of the area around Aleppo, Syria as it is attacked by forces loyal to Assad backed by Russian air power and likely Russia’s “Spetznaz” special forces doing the exact same job our troops are doing with the Peshmerga. This could result in Turkish and Russian troops trading fire. These potential cataclysms aren’t even on the radar of most Canadians and from the evidence their government isn’t very aware either.
This new mission will involve Canada’s Joint Task Force 2 in its largest operations since Afghanistan. This highly secretive unit has been operating all over the world since its inception in the early 90’s with little to no oversight of its operations. There has been a huge increase in the size and budgets of Canada’s special forces in the last 10 years. In 2006 the Canadian Special Operations Regiment was created increasing the numbers of special forces tenfold. Its counter insurgency manual is a copy of American doctrine, a doctrine that has left them losing every ground war since WW2. For ten years in Afghanistan JTF2 fought virtually under American command. There are still many unanswered questions about that period from the military’s own “sandtrap” investigations never truly completed and so heavily classified as to hardly exist. The JTF2 have been all over Africa and South America. They were in Libya helping with Khaddafi’s bloody ouster that has left it a failed state. There is even talk of forming a permanent joint Canadian -American Task force. This is the danger here for Canadians. The budgets and prestige of this new special forces industry depends on their participation in American led operations around the world of questionable legality, morality, and importance to Canada’s security. Since these highly specialized soldiers are the ones who advise the government behind closed doors it is likely they will push to continue this trend to the possible detriment of our real security.
“It is hard to exaggerate the almost seamless integration at the senior levels of the two forces, reinforced by personal networks longstanding friendships. Indeed Canada’s generals and admirals tend to be more concerned with their relationships with their American counterparts than they are with their own politicians in Ottawa“
“Canada in Kandahar, the unexpected war” p14, Janet Gross Stein and Eugene Lang , Viking Canada 2007
Canadians should have some grave and fundamental concerns about the sovereignty over the whole of their own military. Starting with the ascension of Gen. Rick Hillier as Canada’s top officer in 2005, there has been a massive shift toward a level of joint training and matching operational capabilities with American Forces that borders on wholesale integration. General Hillier was a graduate of the US Army War College and did an exchange as 2nd in command of the US Army 3rd Corps in Texas, General Walter Natynchuck who replaced him as Chief of Defense Staff in 2008 had the same resume but as 2nd in command of 3rd Corps was instrumental in planning that divisions entry into Iraq in 2003. General Walter Natynchuck then fired General Andrew Leslie as chief of the Army and replaced him with Maj.-Gen. Peter Devlin another US Army War College alumni who served with the 3rd corps in Iraq, he then commanded the misnamed Iraqi Multi-National Corps, almost wholly manned by American troops in 2007-2008. This corps is accused of war crimes by some in Iraq. It seems that close association with American forces is becoming a prerequisite for command in Canada. Not a good sign.
The shiny new Liberal Defense Minister,Harjit Singh Sajjan, did his second tour in Afghanistan as an aid to US general James L. Terry deputy commander of US forces in Afghanistan. It is interesting to note that both LCol. Sajjan and General Andrew Leslie, a man who was highly decorated in Bosnia and Afghanistan at a much higher command level, and was commander of the Canadian Army, were both elected as Liberals in October. But it was Sajjan who became Minister of Defense leaving Leslie as Party Whip. This might be the second time Leslie lost out for his lack of American connections even though his pedigree is stunning. His father commanded the Canadian Artillery in Korea. One of his grandfathers was the famous General Andrew McNaughton, Canada’s best general in WW1 and the man who led the Canadian forces in WW2, his other grandfather was Brooke Claxton, Canada’s longest serving Defense Minister, both of whom fought on Vimy ridge. Perhaps Leslie’s loyalties lie too far north for some.
Interviewing Canadian military commentator Scott Taylor a few years ago he said to me “The Americans would like nothing better than for us to be a military adjunct to their forces…we are interoperable .. we even share common cultural references like “Family Guy”, and we are far far more skilled at small unit tactics. General Roméo Dallaire agreed with him that inter-operability with the US was Canada’s new overarching priority.
So at present we are supporting both sides in a brutal civil war, training some rebel groups and bombing others. There is very credible evidence that ISIS exists as a direct result of US intervention in the region and was supported by the west, whether knowingly or not, in its early stages. The conflict in Syria could easily spiral out of control leading to a massive regional war over Kurdish autonomy or the beginning of a nightmare clash between NATO and Russia.
We need to immediately and aggressively start asking our government some much harder questions about the use of our Armed Forces around the world. We owe it to the men and women who serve, it is our duty as citizens. In these most dangerous of times we need to be a voice and a force for reason, to try and restore the peace of the world, not a “mercenary adjunct” of the U.S.
If any of you have seen Robocop, you’ll know that machines making decisions on issues of national security, assessing threat levels and making surgical like decisions with precision and efficiency are the way forward. Scrap that, why even stop at national security. Why not use them to stop petty crime too, bring down drug lords or even just crowd control.
Oh wait, that was just a Film or perhaps a case of Art imitating life or is this now life imitating art?
Whatever the case may be, disturbing developments mean that automated systems are now slowly replacing organic Law enforcement even to the extent of crowd control. In itself, this is eerie, surreal even; but what is alarming is its use of administering materials that are even illegal in a war zone.
The betrayal of Canada’s Veterans by our elected leaders is a national disgrace. The Conservative government has decided to fight Veterans at every turn, and they need to be stopped. As an injured Veteran, I believe our struggle for justice is shared by every patriotic Canadian with a conscience
As a lad I would read accounts of Canadian Victoria Cross winners who answered the call to arms and stood up to tyranny. Canadians like Piper James Richardson. Private Michael O’Rourke, Sergeant Ernest ‘Smokey’ Smith, and Major John Mahony. Ordinary men who did extraordinary things in the face of adversity while in the service of Canada.
Take for example Major Mahony’s heroic actions on May 24, 1944 at the River Melfa, Italy. “For five hours the company maintained its position in the face of enemy fire and attack until the remaining companies and supporting weapons were able to reinforce them.” The Westminster’s War Diary said. “Early in the action Major Mahony was wounded in the head and twice in the leg, but he refused medical aid and continued to direct the defence of the bridgehead. That enemy saw that this officer was the soul of the defence and consequently made him their particular target.”
The Conservative government has consistently run from its fiduciary and moral responsibilities towards Veterans. It has refused to honor commitments first made to Canadian Veterans by then Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden in April, 1917.
As a former Reserve Infantry Corporal, I know from first hand experience that surviving injuries sustained in the line of duty is just the start of a multi-decade long trial by fire. I’ve been denied access to treatment and benefits for proven service related injuries for being an outspoken advocate of Veterans rights, alleging corruption within Veterans Affairs, the Department of National Defence, and the offices of their supporting Ombudspeople.
I sustained three serious injuries during military training in 1992. All within a six month period. I nearly became homeless. I lived off 55 cent day old bread and water, and ultimately had my hydro shut off. All as I fought an expensive, protracted, soul crushing battle with the Department of National Defence for that which was rightfully mine under the law.
I fended off blows from seemingly every direction, battled corrupt commissioned officers, uncaring bureaucrats, and democratically elected representatives. Some individuals, as confirmed through subsequent investigations, wilfully attempted to obstruct a lawful process by destroying pay records, documents, medical reports, receipts, two registered letters, and a letter of apology my former commanding officer was forced to write. The coup de grace was heavily censoring the aforementioned investigation records, citing ’solicitor-client privilege’.
My injuries never properly healed. Leaving my body racked with chronic pain. After a fight of seven years I was only paid my back wages, out of pocket prescription fees,
and transportation costs to get to and from medical appointments.
Canadian Veterans deserve to be treated by all federal governments, both present and future, with dignity, courtesy, and respect. I think that I speak on behalf of all Veterans when I say that we ask for nothing more than what we reasonably deserve, that which has been promised, and had been honoured by governments who led our nation before the current Conservative regime.
As such, I respectfully ask all Canadians to stand united with us in our country’s time of need, and vote for change on Oct. 19.
Vote for anybody but Prime Minister Harper and his Conservative candidates.