Thursday, April 6, 2017

Canadian Army to Honour 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge

DND Press Release

The Canadian Army will honour the sacrifices of Canadians made a century ago at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and throughout the First World War, during a number of events throughout Canada between the 8th and 9th of April, 2017.

Apart from the Government of Canada events led by Veterans Affairs Canada, the Canadian Army will also take part in public events, parades and ceremonies held across the country. Locations include Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Petawawa, Quebec City, Regina and Winnipeg.

The Canadian Army contributed soldiers to the Canadian Armed Forces contingent that is currently in France participating in several Commemoration events. These include a military concert in Arras; a ceremony for the Hill 70 Monument in Loos-en-Gohelle; several sunset and sunrise ceremonies; and a signature ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in Vimy, France.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge is considered a significant milestone in Canadian military history, as it was the first time all four Divisions of the Canadian Corps fought side-by-side, securing victory for the Allies. This achievement, won at a high cost, has become an integral element in the rich, complex historical narrative of Canada.

For more information on the Canadian Army commemoration events taking place across Canada, please refer to the Canadian Army website.

More than 650 000 Canadians served in the First World War from 1914 to 1918. Our soldiers fought along the Western Front in France and Belgium; however, the Battle of Vimy Ridge became the most iconic Canadian action of the entire conflict.

By the spring of 1917, Europe had been at war for more than two-and-a-half years, with neither side able to make a significant breakthrough. As part of an Allied offensive, a major attack was planned for April in the area of Arras, France. In this attack, the Canadians would be tasked with capturing Vimy Ridge.

The Canadian achievement in capturing Vimy Ridge owed its success to a range of technical and tactical innovations, very powerful artillery bombardments, meticulous planning, and thorough preparation.

After Vimy, the Canadian military went from one success to another, their achievements to be crowned by the “advance to victory” in 1918. This record won for Canada a separate signature on the Versailles Peace Treaty ending the War.

RCMP Accuse Vice-Admiral Norman of Leaking Cabinet Secrets

The Globe and Mail

The RCMP allege Vice-Admiral Mark Norman violated the Criminal Code by leaking government secrets, an accusation that arises from a 16-month probe into the release of information about cabinet deliberations to a Quebec-based shipbuilder that wanted Ottawa to stop delaying approval of a $667-million contract for an interim naval supply ship.A breach of trust conviction under Section 122 of the Criminal Code carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.

The RCMP investigation into the leaks – called Project Anchor – has not yet resulted in charges against Vice-Adm. Norman, who has served in the navy for 36 years.

Read also: Vice-Admiral Norman's removal from post shocks friends, colleagues

On Wednesday, an Ottawa court released an affidavit and supporting documents, including e-mails, that police used to obtain a warrant to search Vice-Adm. Norman's home earlier this year.

The documents show that the criminal probe has expanded to include interviews of prominent Ottawa lobbyists and executives of the Chantier-Davie Canada Inc. shipyard in Levis, Que. The Mounties also interviewed senior cabinet ministers, including Treasury Board President Scott Brison and top mandarins.

"Norman is suspected of having committed a Criminal Code section 122 breach of trust offence," RCMP Corporal Matthieu Boulanger wrote in an affidavit to obtain a search warrant to raid the Vice-Admiral's Ottawa home on Jan. 9. The Mounties also allege Vice-Adm. Norman violated the Security of Information Act.

The RCMP affidavit filed in the Ottawa courthouse alleges that Chantier-Davie shipyard and a sister company were attempting to press the Trudeau cabinet to stick with a contract the former Conservative government ordered in the final day of the October, 2015, federal election campaign.

Soon after taking power in November, 2015, the Trudeau Liberals put the supply ship project on hold after receiving a letter of complaint from Irving Shipbuilding Inc., which already had a multibillion-dollar contract to build the navy's new fleet of warships. This delay meant that cabinet might look at other, lower bids, threatening Chantier-Davie's contract.

The heavily redacted affidavit provides little idea of what the RCMP allege are Vice-Adm. Norman's motives. The senior naval officer, however, last year said delays in shipbuilding programs had hurt the navy. "It's important to keep in mind that [the delays were] completely avoidable," he said in 2016.

Irving Shipbuilding CEO James Irving tried to persuade the Trudeau Liberals to kill the sole-source contract with Chantier-Davie, arguing that his firm had offered a lower-cost option. Another shipbuilding firm, Vancouver-based Seaspan, called for an open competition and said it could convert a civilian cargo ship into a military supply ship at a significantly lower cost.

Court documents show that the RCMP obtained search warrants in the last two months of 2016 to seize the contents of Vice-Adm. Norman's mobile devices as well as e-mails from Spencer Fraser, CEO of Federal Fleet Services, the Chantier-Davie company in charge of the interim supply ship project.

The Mounties also raided the offices of Mr. Fraser and three Chantier-Davie executives and their Ottawa lobbyists: Brian Mersereau, chairman of Hill and Knowlton, and Kevin MacIntosh, a partner and senior vice-president at FleishmanHillard.

"As a result of the data seized at Chantier Davie, it was discovered that Spencer Fraser was supplying information subject to cabinet confidence to [Chantier-Davie vice-president John] Schmidt, to Alex Vicefield, CEO of Inocea, parent company of Chantier Davie, and to various lobbyists working on behalf of Chantier Davie," Cpl. Boulanger wrote.

Attempts to reach Mr. Fraser, Vice-Adm. Norman, FleishmannHillard and executives of Chantier-Davie on Wednesday were unsuccessful. Mr. Mersereau did not comment. There is no indication in the court documents that anyone other than Vice-Adm. Norman is under police investigation.

The Globe and Mail has gone to court to seek the release of an unredacted version of the warrant and production order used by the RCMP to search Vice-Adm. Norman's home.

Toronto lawyer Marie Henein, who is representing Vice-Adm. Norman, has obtained a court order to keep all potentially incriminating e-mails involved in the Norman probe under wraps. Lawyers for The Globe will argue in court that the material should be released except for parts dealing with cabinet confidentiality.

Ms. Henein has publicly asserted her client "was caught in bureaucratic cross-fire" and said his "sole objective" is to advance the country's national interest.

There was no indication of any bureaucratic infighting in the documents released by court on Wednesday.

The e-mails attached to the RCMP affidavit also suggest that lobbyists were planning to use the media to press Ottawa to rule in favour of the Chantier-Davie contract, and that Mr. Fraser developed a lobbying effort to get Quebec government to rally on behalf of Chantier-Davie.

Vice-Adm. Norman was Canada's second-most-senior military commander when he was suspended from his duties three months ago after RCMP raided his home and questioned him extensively. It is not known what the police seized during the raid or what the suspended military commander told the Mounties.

A curious feature of the Norman investigation is that it was set in motion by a story from then CBC radio reporter James Cudmore on Nov. 20, 2015. The story, citing secret deliberations, revealed cabinet had delayed approval of the Chantier-Davie contract for 60 days, the affidavit says. Two months after this story – and after an RCMP investigation had commenced – Mr. Sajjan hired Mr. Cudmore as a senior adviser.

Mr. Cudmore's story reported in detail on a cabinet decision to delay approval of the sole-source contract to Chantier-Davie.

In one e-mail discussion among Ottawa lobbyists that was part of the RCMP affidavit, one of them writes "the only thing we can do is sic the media and the union" on Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, who represents the Quebec City region. Mr. Mersereau at Hill and Knowlton writes: "Want me to try some of the media here?" Two days later, on Nov. 20, 2016, Mr. Cudmore reported on CBC that the Davie supply ship deal had been "halted by Liberals" and was "leading to concerns the plan will soon be scuttled and the navy will be left unable to properly defend Canada or deploy its forces abroad."

Mr. Cudmore also reported Mr. Irving had allegedly "meddled in the decision by sending letters to several cabinet ministers about the deal."

This CBC report went on to say "there was little risk" that Mr. Irving's concerns about the sole-source contract "could be successfully challenged."

The story took the Liberal cabinet by surprise. After the CBC report, Mr. Brison told the RCMP that "rendering of this [classified information] into the public domain did an awful lot to limit our ability to what we'd [the committee] intended to do, and that is more due diligence on this."

The government approved the Chantier-Davie deal on Nov. 30.

Mr. Cudmore also revealed in a Nov. 25 story that Seaspan CEO Jonathan Whitworth wrote to Mr. Sajjan expressing his interest in bidding on the supply ship contract.

Mr. Cudmore said on Wednesday that he has not seen the affidavit and has no comment.

The PMO ordered an internal investigation of the cabinet leaks, which led to the Mounties being summoned.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that the RCMP interviewed a former CBC journalist who is now a senior adviser to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. In fact, there is no mention of this in the affidavit. This is the corrected version.

Follow Robert Fife, Steven Chase and Daniel Leblanc on Twitter @RobertFife @stevenchase  @danlebla

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Government of Canada Signs Defence Cooperation Arrangement With Ukraine

DND Press Release

April 4, 2017 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Canada and Ukraine have a long history of friendship, common values, and shared ambitions for the future of our peoples.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan met today with Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak to sign the Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Arrangement.

This bilateral arrangement further exemplifies Canada’s commitment to Ukraine by identifying areas of mutual cooperation such as defence policy; defence research, development, and production; and military education. The Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Arrangement is a key part of the Canadian Government`s multifaceted support for Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty, security, and stability. This arrangement is focused on providing a framework for cooperation on important defence-related issues.

In the coming days, Defence Minister Poltorak will meet Members of Parliament and Senators, and tour Canadian Armed Forces facilities such as Canadian Forces Base Petawawa.

“Today's signing of the Defence Cooperation Arrangement shows Canada's steadfast commitment to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. It strengthens the ties between our two nations and helps us continue to develop our rich, mutually beneficial relationships. Canada remains fully committed to providing assistance to Ukraine, helping to preserve and protect its sovereignty through Operation UNIFIER, and to supporting the implementation of key reforms.”— Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister

In addition to the Canadian Government`s recent decision to renew Operation UNIFIER until the end of March 2019, the Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Arrangement reaffirms the mutual trust and common interest in international peace shared between the two countries.

Canada has provided a broad range of assistance (development, financial, humanitarian, non-lethal military) to Ukraine, totalling more than $700 million since January 2014.

Since September 2015, more than 3200 Ukrainian Armed Forces members have been trained by the Canadian Armed Forces.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Canada Extends OP IMPACT Until June 2017

DND Press Release

The Government of Canada remains strongly committed to defeating Da’esh and responding to the needs of people who have been displaced or devastated by war in Iraq, Syria, and the region.

Today, Defence Minister Sajjan announced that the Government of Canada is extending Canada’s current military contribution to the fight against Da’esh until June 30, 2017.

This extension provides the Government of Canada the time required to assess the evolving nature of the fight while allowing the Canadian Armed Forces to maintain their important contributions to ongoing operations as a responsible coalition partner.

The scope and mission of Canada’s military contribution will remain the same over the next three months, with a few adjustments. As a result of recent successes in the campaign, some elements of the Canadian Special Operations Task Force have recently been operating in Eastern Mosul, providing advice and assistance to Iraqi Security Forces. There has been no change to their mandate or to the parameters of their mission. Canadian troops remain behind the forward line of troops, and are providing advice and assistance to Iraqi Forces.

Canada has implemented a comprehensive and integrated approach to do its part in defeating Da’esh, restore basic government services in Iraq, and enable citizens to return to their homes in newly-liberated areas.

Canadians will be regularly updated as this mission continues to evolve.