The Holocaust Remembered

The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem (CSYV) presented the 2018 Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony at the Canadian War Museum on the 18th April, 2018, to an audience of perhaps 500 people consisting of holocaust survivors and their families, about 50 members of Parliament, Chief Justices, Senators, diplomatic delegations from 45 countries, veterans, and members of the public. The Lebreton Gallery of the Museum was full to overflowing.

There were several speakers, including the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence (representing the government), the Honourable Andrew Scheer (Conservatives) and Mr. Jagmeet Singh (NDP), and more importantly, holocaust survivor Felicia Carmelly, and son of a survivor, Israel Mida. It is the last two that are the more interesting and bring home the importance of this remembrance.

Felicia Carmelly was only 10 years old when she was taken to the Transnistria area with her parents. This area, roughly the size of Nova Scotia, sits between the Dniester and Bug Rivers and was granted to Romanian General Antonescu by Hitler for his support of the Nazis and their invasion of Russia in June, 1941. In Sept., 1941, they began deporting Jews from Romania and Ukraine, along with other groups, into this area making it essentially a prison camp and, eventually, several cities turned into ghettos for the pogram. The Romanians left the deportees without shelter, heating supplies, clothing, or food, to battle starvation and disease and to die through forced labour.

This strip of land is not as well-known as Auschwitz but an accepted number of murdered people is 410,000 of which there is no evidence left. When the Russians liberated the area in 1944, they covered all evidence of “the largest killing field of the holocaust” with buildings, town, skating rinks, etc., so there is no place to which to make a pilgrimage, no monuments to the Jewish dead. It is a “forgotten graveyard”.

Felica lost 26 members of her family, although she and her parents survived for 3 ½ years. They were subject to the deprivations mentioned above as well as mass shootings in the middle of the night, forced marches, exposure and being worked to death. She stated that, “ … death was surrounding us all the time.”. She remembered one occasion when a guard said to her, “They will not waste a bullet for a Jew. You will die anyway, if not today – tomorrow.”. She and her parents came to Canada in 1961 and thrived.

Israel Mida, the son of a survivor, spoke about his parents’ experiences. His father was from near Warsaw and his mother from the Soviet Ukraine. During the holocaust his father lost 53 family members to the ghettos and camps and his mother had 24 family members murdered by Nazi Einsatzgruppen killing squads. On one day the killing squad marched over 5000 Jews from his mother’s town into a forest and shot them one by one. While horrific, this was not the worst atrocity inflicted on Jews by the Einsatzgruppen killing squads.

His mother’s brother and his namesake, Israel, had a different fate as he was a university student in Krakow at the time the Germans invaded Russia in June, 1941. Stalin decided that he would send all the Soviet boys in university to the front line, without any military training, to act as human shields for his troops. Israel died on the Leningrad front, the only member of his family to die fighting the Nazis.

These are just some of the stories that come forth when talking to survivors of the Shoah (Hebrew term referring to the “destruction” whereas holocaust means a religious animal sacrifice completely consumed by fire which is technically incorrect in this usage). As each speaker finished, they led a group of dignitaries and/or guests to light one of the six candle on the menorah in remembrance of:

1. The memory of the over 6,000,000 Jews murdered;
2. The memory of 1,500,000 Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust;
3. Holocaust survivors;
4. Partisans, ghetto fighters, resistance groups, and Allied armed forces who fought valiantly against the Nazis;
5. The Righteous among the Nations – non-Jews who risked their lives and lives of their families to rescue Jews during the Holocaust; and,
6. In honour of future generations.

High schools from around the NCR were also in attendance and had spent the afternoon prior to the ceremony in discussions with survivors getting the stories so that this tragedy doesn’t repeat itself. How fitting that the National Holocaust Monument is just across the road from the National War Museum for them to visit as well.

Video of address by holocaust survivor Felicia Carmelly:

To see all the pictures, CLICK HERE


Breaking Down the Barricades (2018)

Esprit de Corps magazine, in conjunction with the Commissionaires organization, hosted the second annual “Breaking Down the Barricades” Awards Reception for the fourth year of award recipients recognizing women of excellence in the military and defence industries fields. It was held in the Jean Piggott Hall of the Ottawa City Hall on Monday, 9th April, 2018, and was attended by Her Excellency the Governor-General (HEGG), Julie Payette, and the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Jonathan Vance.

HEGG opened the event with remarks recounting some of her experiences as a woman in these fields. She told of reading an article by a female US Marine Officer as to why women shouldn’t be infantry officers in the Marines, citing adverse effects on camaraderie , requirements for differing facilities, effects on decision making, which on the surface, sounded quite reasonable and convincing. But then she thought, “I went to space on my second flight with only guys. We shared the same facilities, the same airspace really. But more importantly, we were all there for the same reason. Because we had earned our ticket to be space craft operators. And that is the defining difference – competence. This is not about quota, it’s not about gender, it’s not about the colour of your skin, it’s not about the language you spoke when you were little. It’s about what you can contribute.”. Later she went on to say that these recipients were being honoured tonight, “… not because you’re diversity – because you are good – because you’re competent – because you have done extra-ordinary things.”.

Following the plaque presentations to the award recipients, Gen. Vance took the podium to express his congratulations and thanks to the ladies for the contributions noting that “ … you’ve succeeded in spite of any roadblocks that were placed in your way. And perhaps those roadblocks were the kind that your male counterparts didn’t face.”.

Lastly, a toast was made my Sandra Perron, who was also the first Canadian female infantry officer and is now representing the Commissionaires, who toasted, “ Long Live Strong Women!”.

With the awards ceremony now concluded, everyone went on to sample the food and drinks supplied by several of the embassies in Ottawa including the Turkish, Korean, Russian, and Chinese embassies.

For more on this story, head over to Esprit de Corps magazine.

To see all the pictures of the award recipients, CLICK HERE

Here is a video of the addresses by HEGG Payette and Gen Vance as well as the presentations of awards.


101st Vimy Ridge

The Battle for Vimy Ridge, arguably an event that helped define Canada as a nation, was fought 101 years ago from April 9th to 12th, 1917. It is commemorated with all the ceremony of any event that causes so much death and destruction (10,600 casualties plus for Canadians) and also is the first indication of Canada being regarded as a nation and not just a junior member of the Commonwealth. That was until 2018.

In the past years there has been a large remembrance ceremony held at the National War Memorial on the 9th of April. Last year, the 100th anniversary of the Battle, there was a vigil in the evening before and a remembrance ceremony the following morning both attend by 100s to 1000s of people. For the vigil there are speeches and ceremony and cadets were paraded out to stand vigil over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There were veterans from every organization present, politicians galore, childrens’ choirs and there was the ceremony of the Passing of the Torch from the oldest veterans up the line to the cadets and youth of Canada. In the morning, the cadets were relieved of duty and replaced by soldiers and a proper remembrance ceremony was held, again complete with veterans contingents, Armed Forces contingents, RCMP, politicians, and official delegations from many foreign governments. In all, it is second only to the November 11th National Remembrance Day. Until 2018.

This year, there was no vigil at all. Nothing. In the morning there was a small ceremony that consisted of one member of government, MP Andrew Leslie, who laid a wreath for the Government, as well as two youth from the Encounters with Canada organization, and delegations from the Vimy Foundation, and another representing Portuguese Veterans of Ontario. No veterans were invited, there were no chairs, no speakers, no choirs, not even a microphone for someone to say a few words. The only soldiers on parade were four marched in to stand post at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. If not for the 120 youth bused in from Encounters With Canada, it’s doubtful that anyone would have been there at all. At least there was a bugler and piper so that the Last Post, Lament, and Rouse could be played. All in all, it was a quick ceremony.

So, now that the 100th anniversary is past, and there are no living WWI veterans, it seems that the government and Veterans Affairs is happy to sweep this event under the carpet. It makes one wonder what will happen to the remainder of the WWI remembrances once this year is over and the 100th anniversary of the Great War passes into history, along with those who fought to make Canada a nation.

to see all the pictures, CLICK HERE


CDAI Conference 2018

If you are looking for pictures of speakers, CLICK HERE

“The Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) and CDA Institute (CDAI) promote research and informed public debate on national security and defence issues in support of credible government policies for Canada” (CDA statement) and hosted its annual Conference on Security and Defence at the Chateau Laurier Hotel on the 22nd/23rd February, 2018, with a theme of “Canadian Security and Defence in the New World (Dis)Order”. It was two days of opinion and research presentations on future challenges to the military, the changing world around us, speakers such as the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Jonathan Vance, and presentations from partner armed forces such as MGen Philippe Montocchio of France, and MGen Mitch Mitchell of the UK. Panelists covered topics of future defence challenges, the world disorder and the national capacity for defence with such noted panelists as Senator (Ret’d) Romeo Dallaire and LGen (USA Ret’d) Ben Hodges.

Suffice it to say that a blog post cannot do justice to any one topic covered by these august personages let alone two days of all-encompassing information so for a detailed account of what was covered one will have to wait for magazine articles to be published or more detailed reports to be submitted to websites. I can only briefly point out some of the highlights that resonated with me.

The first speaker was Mr. Darrell Bricker, of Ipsos Public Affairs, stating that he didn’t really have many opinions as his job was to measure opinions and then collate that into data. He would, therefore, speak to public opinion and counter with demographic hard data to provide a data base to consider all the issues being considered here with a specific reference to fertility and aging, urbanization, and multi-culturalism within Canadian and global populations.

He started by showing birthrate data from the 1950s and comparing it to today and then projecting out to 2036 and the changes that we are seeing. The number to remember is that in order to have a stable replacement of population you need a birthrate of 2.1 children per family (stable replacement birthrate or SRB). In the 1950s Canada had a birthrate of 4 but today is down to 1.6 projecting to be 1.2 by 2036. In short, we’ve stopped having children. And this is not just a Canadian phenomenon but is worldwide with places like India and China (accounting for 40% of the world’s population) already below SRB. In the ten most populous countries in the developed world, the birthrate has dropped by 60% in 50 years.

At the same time, people are living longer and the gross population is getting older. In Canada in the 1920s the average lifespan was 57 years, increasing to 81 years today and projecting to 87 years by 2036. In China in the 1950s the average lifespan was 40 years but has doubled to 80 years today. The median age of a Canadian today is 41 years whereas in the 1970s it was 24 years, and the developed countries now have more people alive over 65 years than under 15 years. As noted by Mr. Bricker, “[we’re] bad at making new people but really good at keeping people around” which explains why we’ve got an increasing global population that is getting top heavy with the elderly but thinning with the young people needed to replace them. As this trend continues it should result in a slight increase in the current global population before it starts to decline (due to deaths of the elderly without replacement young) which is a contradiction of United Nations projections of an 11 billion person global population by the year 2100.

Why has this happened? It’s not the one child rule in China which resulted in female infanticide which now leaves China with a deficit of child-bearing females in the population. The entire planet has stopped having larger families. Mr. Bicker cited the one overwhelming reason that he feels has led to this decline has to do with the increasing educating of women. To explain, in the early decades, women had little choices in their lives and got married in their 20s and started having children. However, now women get educated, start a career path, and get married later. By getting married later and having careers they have less biological time in which to have children and they spend more time advancing their careers than staying home to raise children. The result is that women have more choices and chose to have careers and less children and this trend does not reverse – ever.

What is the impact of this? In China the elderly rely on younger people to look after them as they don’t have a national pension. People will get old before they get rich enough to support the older population. This is true in Canada and globally as well. In Canada by 2036 there will be two people working for every retired person resulting in a huge drain on their tax dollars in supporting the federal pensions. It also means less young people available for armed forces and less skillsets to draw on for the new technological battlefield.

Population urbanization is also an issue as we are right now seeing the single biggest transformation in history of where the world is living and it has nothing to do with the mass migrations from war-torn countries. Currently, only 3% of the world lives in a country where they were not born so this type of migration, while seemingly overwhelming on the news, is not a real issue in terms of global population. The real issue is the move of population from rural areas to cities. In 1960, 34% of the population lived in cities and it now over 50% projecting to be 67% by 2050. Eight-two percent of Canadians live in towns with over 1,000 people with 40% of Canadians living in four cities. Ninety percent of Canadians live within 100 miles of the USA border. We are a hugely urban population. What this means in terms of sovereignty and our “Great White North” is that we are protecting land on which no-one lives or has probably seen and that we won’t have the people or resources to defend it.

Along with this is that fact that our country is changing demographically from one that faced east towards the Atlantic to one that faces west and the Pacific Ocean. Atlantic Canada is old with more people dying and no immigrants moving there. Those immigrants that do move there generally have left within five years. The Maritimes have the oldest populations, lowest birthrates, and fewest immigrants.

The Canadian population is more and more facing eastward to the Pacific as that is where people our moving. In the 1970s immigrants came primarily from the USA and UK but, with 1% immigration (the highest in the world per capita), today they come almost exclusively from the Pacific. And not so much from China anymore (they’re running out of young people to send and their middle class is gaining wealth at home) but from the Philippines. So previous immigration patterns from India and China have changed Canada’s global outlook eastward and future patterns would suggest a solidification of that pattern. Canada also is looking to increase trade with many of the Pacific Rim countries so politically this move continues.
The location pattern of immigrants has changed as well as in our past many immigrants moved out west to homestead. Now, immigrants move to cities for jobs and to be with cultural clusters within those cities. This only exacerbates the decline in rural population and increase in urbanization. But multi-culturalism is something that Canada does well with Toronto being the most multi-cultural city in the world with 50% of the population born in another country (London – 40%, Ottawa – 18%).

Along with these changes in population comes a change in where they see issues of concern. Almost all Canadians now see domestic issues topping their priorities such as ethnic violence, heath epidemics, domestic terrorism, and hacking, but national defence is not an issue concerning people. The only real national defence concern is cyber security so that our infrastructure and financial institutions are secure.

So, do these changing birthrates and urbanization have an effect on security and defence? They do. Because we don’t have a credible national threat people recognize that economic power may be more important than military power and this is leading our government to join more trade agreements. We are certainly more focused on new trade deals with Pacific countries as we have existing deals in place with European allies. Our remote regions may no longer be able to be secured by people but more remote monitoring systems may have to be put in place. We are living longer and healthier and that is going to have to change who and how the military recruits, the workplaces, and retirement. It also seems that what the military is designed to do and is good at, defending territory, is not of real concern to the population and their concerns on terrorism and cyber-security is not something with which the military has fully come to grips.

The best tagline of the entire conference comes from Mr. Bricker as he noted that we won’t be able to rely on young people to fight our wars as we won’t have enough of them. He stated, “We’re setup for a geriatric peace. We’re too old to fight.”

Gen. Vance started the second day with his state-of-the-union address and captured the audience of approximately 450 attendees with his easy podium style peppered with small bits of humour for which he is known. As it was his first opportunity to address a peer audience since the new Canadian Defence Policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE)”, was presented he stated that “the policy will give us the flexibility to anticipate, adapt, and act in response to current and emerging threats with a new set of capabilities and a force of 101,500 regular and reserve that will tackle those challenges.”. He noted that the CAF will be manned to tackle up to nine concurrent international operations over and above domestic responsibilities as well as NATO and NORAD obligations which may require 7,000 troops at any one time, not including those required in North America, of which 4,000 will be capable of sustained operations and the remainder used for shorter operations. To put it in perspective Vance noted that currently Canada has 1800 troops deployed in 20 operations worldwide on any given day so this increase is vast.

Gen. Vance also covered where we are in various parts of the world such as Iraq and Daesh (it’s going to take time), a substantial return to Europe (NATO solidarity with Poland, Latvia, and Ukraine to send a message to Russia), and the possibility of future action in Africa.

At home he mentioned the successes of the CAF aiding civilian powers in helping with the Quebec floods and B.C. forest fires, search and rescue ops, and assistance to hurricane victims. He noted that new investments in equipment and infrastructure is necessary to carry out the new policy ($108 billion over 20 years) and procurement was underway for LAVs, combat vehicles (TAPVs), ships (Halifax class modernization), aircraft, and $250 million for the ISS (integrated soldier systems).

To do all this Canada will need more people and stated for the first time in a long time that the CAF is growing. But growing is not enough and that Canada needs the right kind of people and needs more diversity, including women, in that growth. Mentioning the Reserves, he stated historically the Reserves have augmented the Regular forces but now needs to become a larger Reserve force of part time soldiers who have 24/7 full-time capability to compliment the Regular force to carry out the increased numbers of deployments simultaneously and sustain them.

Lastly, Vance focused on personnel and their experiences from entry to exit into the CAF and admitted that more needs to be done. He spoke of soldiers who had suffered trauma (both physical and mental) possibly not being released so quickly as, although they may not be deployable at the moment, they are still employable. Personnel should be eligible for promotion while on parental leave or seeking medical treatment and soldiers on named operations overseas should be eligible for tax considerations without having to demonstrate a level of risk as before. There is a need to improve the relocation policies and benefits to align them with the current economic realities. In all, he envisions many changes to support CAF personnel.

Again, this does not even begin to cover to speakers mentioned above nor even attempt to cover the scope of the conference. For that you must turn to other sources, such as the CDA and CDAI themselves.

to see all the pictures, CLICK HERE

audio of presentation by Mr. Darrell Bricker


Russian Hockey in Ottawa

Once again it was time for the hockey elites of Esprit de Corps to take on the Russian Bear as the Russian Embassy fielded two teams of the “Red Machine” to play against the Esprit de Corps “Commando Lites” in the first game and the “Commandos” in the second game of this double header. The games were played at the Jim Durrell Arena on Friday late afternoon with the Russians dressing so many players for both games that there wasn’t room on their bench to squeeze in a photographer.

For the first game both sides played with grit and determination, starting the second period tied 1-1. A goal with slightly more than four minutes to go in the second put the Russians ahead 2-1 which is how they started the third period. Although playing aggressively, the Commando Lites allowed another goal late in the third which put the game out of reach with the Russians winning 3-1.

The start of the second game against the Commandos was a hard fought and well skated affair with the first period ending without any scoring. Around half-way through the second period the Red Machine managed to pot a goal and the second period ended 1-0 for the Russians. During the third period, the Russians scored again about the 7:30 mark and were answered by the Commandos at 3:18 leaving the score at 3-1 for the closing moments. The Russians scored their final goal about 1:15 which is how the game ended, 4-1 for the Russian Red Machine.

A reception followed where the trophy was presented to the Russian Ambassador by Scott Taylor of Esprit de Corps magazine, the top players were announced for both teams (two for the Russians) and a new category, Dirtiest Player, was awarded to one of the Russians.

to see all the pictures, CLICK HERE

Speeches and Awards


War Amps 100 Years

The War Amps have had a long history of providing help to those in need and today Canada Post unveiled a 100th Anniversary of the War Amps Commemorative Envelope at the War Amps Headquarters in Ottawa. Speaking for the War Amps was Ms. Annelise Petlock, War Amps Advocacy Program Manager, and Ms. Aurélie Walsh, Director of Media Relations at Canada Post, represented Canada Post. Also on hand were Dante Fotia and Olivia Miller, child amputees representing the CHAMPS (CHild AMPutees ) program as well as Mr. Charles Jefferson, a WWII veteran who has been associated with War Amps for 75 years, and Mr. David Saunders, COO of War Amps.

The War Amps was started in 1918 by amputee veterans from WWI. Formally granted a charter in 1920 as the “Amputations Association of the Great War”, it was led by Lt.-Col. Sidney Lambert, an Army padre who lost his leg on the battlefields. With the philosophy “amputees helping amputees”, and under the new name of “The War Amputations of Canada” (1939) they expanded their group and welcomed returning WWII veteran amputees, assisting them to adjust to the new realities of their lives. In 1946, the Key Tag Service was started to provide meaningful employment and the program continues to exist to this day having returned over 1.5 million lost keys to owners. In 1962, War Amps began expanding its scope to include civilian adults and children and by 1965, Mr. Cliff Chadderton, CEO of War Amps, transitioned the organization from a solely veteran oriented group into a charitable organization representing all amputees. Mr. Chadderton held the post of CEO for 44 years and is featured on the commemorative envelope, second picture from the left – bottom row) seated with a child amputee. The 1975 the Civilian Liaison Program evolved into CHAMPS where the experience and knowledge of the organization could be directed to encouraging positive attitudes and courage into child amputees.

The War Amps has fought many battles since then, some alone, some in concert with other advocacy groups. They have fought for “seriously disable veteran” legislation since 1975 with a breakthrough in 1995 of having this category of veteran included within veterans’ legislation, regulation, and policy. In 1998 the Canadian government paid a claim to surviving Hong Kong veterans and in 2011 these veterans also received apology from the Japanese government. In 2000, the Merchant Navy veterans were fully compensated for benefits they were denied from 1945-1992 and in 2002 a claim was started for Indigenous veterans to receive denied compensation. War Amps has played a significant part in all of these victories.

Still, more work needs to be done. Ms. Petlock noted that there are tremendous gaps in prosthetic funding and that artificial limbs are not adequately covered by provincial or private health care with some provinces not providing any coverage at all. In response, War Amps has launched a Crusade for Reform to improve the standard of funding for artificial limbs by educating government agencies and insurance companies. The goal is “to reform and improve the system so that amputees will receive the limbs they need for their independence, safety, and their security”.

Ms. Walsh spoke of how Canada Post acts as a story teller and is so pleased to be associated with this organization who “works tirelessly for Canadian amputees across the country. The commemorative envelope tells the story of the organization’s 100 year history in delivery of [its] services”. The envelope shows pictures of the War Amps leaders as well as people that it serves, young and old, civilian and military, depicting the diversity of Canada.

The time had come to unveil the envelope so the two CHAMPs representatives, Olivia Miller and Dante Fotia, assisted Mr. Charles Jefferson in lifting the veil from the envelope for all to see. Mr. Jefferson was then presented with a framed set of envelopes, showing the front and reverse, by Mr. David Saunders, COO of War Amps. Mr. Jefferson joined the military in 1943 as a lieutenant in the Queen’s Own Rifles and, in March, 1945, lost his leg to an explosion in the Rhine Valley. He has been associated with the War Amps since that time and has been a past President and Vice-President of the Ottawa Branch and visited civilian amputees in Ottawa hospitals to allay their fears arising from the loss of limbs.

Once the envelope was unveiled and the appropriate photos taken, the celebration was capped off by – what else – cake! Mr. Jefferson, with the help of Olivia and Dante, cut the cake, ending the press conference.


CF Artists Program (7)

From 2nd February, 2018, until 2nd April, 2018, the Canadian War Museum (CWM) will be hosting an exhibition of war art created by the Canadian Forces Artists Program (CFAP) – Group 7. The Directorate of History and Heritage of DND, which sits under the Commander Military Personnel Command and is commanded by LGen. Lemarre, is responsible for the CFAP Program. This program selects 5-10 artists from applicants (in this case approximately 50) to spend 7-10 days in the field with CAF troops to document the daily activities of the military. The selection committee is represented by the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian War Museum, an artists’ representative, the Canada Council, and the Legion Magazine. The purpose of CFAP is to “… encourage artists to learn more about our men and women in uniform and to create works of art that document and explore Canada’s military history and experience.” (Steve Quick, DG Canadian War Museum). DND is responsible for the logistics and authority to place the artists in the field whereas the CWM has the responsibility for conservation and display.

Canada has a long history of military art which started in WWI with the first program followed by a second in WWII. From 1968-1985 a third program was instituted as the Canadian Armed Forces Civilian Artists Program and the current incarnation (fourth program) was started in 2001. This exhibition is the work of the seventh group to be selected of the fourth program that deployed with troops during 2014-2015 and started creating their works of art in 2015. Although they were “… in the field 7-10 days, [it] inspires them for years after.”, stated Dr. John MacFarlane of the Directorate of History and Heritage.

The exhibit is a mixture of media ranging from sketches, paintings and installations with lightbox and video exhibits and two using cast glass, from artists Nancy Cole, Richard Johnson, Guy Lavigueur, Ivan Murphy, Kathryn Mussallem, Erin Riley, Mark Thompson, and Eric Walker.

As with any artwork, what grabs ones attention is completely subjective. For me, it was the sketches of Richard Johnson, a Scottish born visual artist who had previously been embedded with American and Canadian Forces in Afghanistan for the National Post and the Washington Post before travelling to Ukraine with CFAP in 2015. It was his pencil drawings of Operation UNIFIER where CAF soldiers carried out their mission of support by helping to train Ukrainian armed forces that drew me to his display area, and then the stories behind the drawings that he told me during our brief talk together that kept me there. One story told of two soldiers, soaked to the bone in the rain, being dressed down by a superior for their poor performance in an exercise and, when the drawing was first shown, that the superior recognized himself in the picture.

The story behind “The Wrecker” is of a difference of experience where the Ukrainian soldiers were confident that one of their BMPs (tracked soviet-style vehicle) had the capability to pull out another BMP should it get stuck and the Canadians thought not. To prove their point, the Ukrainians drove their BMP into the mud until it became stuck and then drove a second BMP in to pull it out. This resulted in two BMPs stuck in the mud. The Wrecker is in reference to the Canadian Heavy Logistics Vehicle, Wheeled (HLVW), configured with a towing cable, and the drawing shows two Canadian and two Ukrainian soldiers hauling on the tow cable to connect to the BMP to start the extrication process.

Mr. Johnson also alluded to some of the difficulties in his work outside of the conditions, weather, and location, the primary ones being gaining the trust of the troops and then becoming invisible to them as they lived their lives. The artist has to have the trust of the troops so he can become one of them, allowing them to relax in his presence, and then he has to become invisible so that he can do his job without the “observer effect” (the act of observation changes the behaviour of the subject being observed). Given the short period of 7-10 days in the field, this is particularly difficult.

Although I spent most of my time with Mr. Johnson, other works deserve a moment or two as well. The “Hard Rain” is a series of three rows of five bombs of cast glass that have a video loop going through them that changes the colours from white through aqua to blue. Another cast glass work is the “Book of War” which has a stationary picture of a CF-18 while the background zooms by and the colours change, all buried deep within a cast glass book. There are lightbox displays of images from Kuwait as well as a video display of the Canadian Patrol Frigates, paintings of training in CFB St. Jean, and some larger art installations.

All in all, I enjoyed the exhibit and would suggest that it would make a good way to spend some of your time at the Canadian War Museum. Below are some pictures of the media event, the displays, and two videos.


Calian Contracts for
Health Care Services

The Canadian Forces Health Service Centre, housed within the Monfort Hospital in Ottawa, was the scene today for an announcement by the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, of the awarding of three contracts totalling $310.9 million for the provision of health care services to Calian Ltd. Also present at the announcement were the MP for Ottawa-Vanier, Mona Fortier, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Sherry Romanado, the CEO of Calian Ltd, Kevin Ford, along with several representatives from the military wing of the hospital.

In making the announcement, Minister Qualtrough said that “All Canadians deserve a high standard of health care but perhaps none more than those who make great sacrifices to serve and protect us.”. The three contracts are so Calian Ltd can “… provide and manage health care services for the Department of National Defence, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).”.

Parliamentary Secretary Romanado stated that “… these new services will directly support the health and resilience of our men and women in uniform and help ensure a smoother transition to civilian life. The new agreement will supplement the current health care services and ensure continuity of care when medical (sic) personnel are deployed, they go on training, or are on extended leave.”.

Calian Ltd. has held the contract to provide health care support to DND since 2004 and this new contract is for four more years with optional extensions for an additional eight years beyond that. This announcement also adds contracts for the RCMP and VAC for Calian, who has partnered with Bayshore HealthCare, also for four initial years with an optional eight years. The potential dollar value of the contract, should it run for the full 12 years, is $875 million for DND, $60 million for the RCMP, and $55 million for VAC. Kevin Ford, CEO of Calian Ltd iterated that “These are not just contracts to us. At Calian, this [health care for CAF members, veterans, and RCMP] is a passion.”.

One point of concern is that the government has directed Calian Ltd. to direct some of their sub-contracting as “… we [the government] are also committed to creating economic opportunities for Canada’s indigenous peoples and these contracts include clear obligations on the part of Calian to sub-contract with indigenous businesses (Qualtrough)”. I have no quarrels with indigenous groups and I have indigenous acquaintances so please read on before sending hate mail.

In an attempt at full disclosure, let me say that I was a procurement officer in DND during the 1980’s and worked on the Canadian Patrol Frigate Project as well as the CF-18, CP-140 Aurora, and a host of smaller procurements. It is my observation that in almost every major procurement the government was more concerned about redirecting capital equipment procurement funds away from procuring equipment and more into providing Regional and Industrial Benefits (RIBs), always to the detriment of the procurement. In trying to get RIBs, the government, generally, wound up paying more for the equipment or getting less of it because the procurement money was redirected to setting up infrastructure, building plants for foreign companies so they could produce product in Canada, supplementing salaries of workers in new plants, providing tax breaks to foreign companies, etc. A lot of money necessary for RIBs seemed to come from the initial procurement budget for equipment and it was the men and women of the CAF who suffered. I still see this in the helicopter replacement projects, the Canadian Surface Combatant Project, and the CF-18 Replacement Project.

How does this link in with contracting with indigenous businesses? It doesn’t. What it does though is show the same pattern of the government directing money from a procurement objective (health services for CAF, veterans and RCMP) to serve another objective (bolstering indigenous businesses which could be considered a RIB). If the indigenous business can provide the same service at the same cost as any other potential contractor, then sure, why not, give it to them. BUT, if the CAF, veterans, and RCMP are paying a premium so that an indigenous business gets sub-contracts at the expense of their health care dollars, then I believe the affected groups would be annoyed.

Just so there is NO MISUNDERSTANDING, I am not advocating that indigenous businesses be excluded from sub-contracting, that they are not capable of providing the services, nor even that they not get preferential treatment. What I am saying is that every sub-contractor should be on a level playing field and that in the event of a tie, award the sub-contract to the indigenous group. That would be the best use of the money as the CAF, veterans, and RCMP get the best health care at the best possible price, indigenous businesses get a bit of a boost, and there is no additional cost to the taxpayer. Win-win all the way around.

So, the above point aside, it’s good to see the government providing more funding for the health care of CAF member, veterans, and the RCMP, and let’s hope some of it actually gets to where it’s needed.

Wreaths Across Canada

Wreaths Across Canada is a non-profit organization dedicated to remembering all those who have fallen in the service of Canada. They do this by placing a balsam wreath on the headstones of soldiers on the first Sunday in December and this year that ceremony took place at the National Military Cemetery, part of Beechwood Cemetery, on the 3rd December.

The day was not cold with the threat of rain rather than snow. The weather plays a big part in this ceremony and has been held in -15 degree days, sleet storms, and beautiful sunny days. The snow is favoured because it is clean and white and the wreaths just pop with colour against the neutral background. This year’s event was a little lower key because of funding issues so instead of putting wreaths on every headstone, they were restricted to putting wreaths at the ends of the rows throughout the military cemetery. The diplomatic contingents (France, USA, Poland, Netherlands) and the RCMP also play a large part in this ceremony as they lay wreaths for their fallen comrades buried away from home and at the RCMP Cemetery.

So, although a little smaller in scope this year, the important point is to remember and the sizable crowd that turned out made sure that happened.

To see all the pictures, CLICK HERE


Imjin Hockey 2017

For the first time in its history, the Imjin Classic Commemorative Hockey Game was hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of South Korea at the TD Place Arena, home of the Ottawa 67s. The game commemorates the game played between the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) and the Royal 22e Régiment (R22eR) in 1952 on the Imjin River in Korea during the Korean War. Mr. Claude Charland, one of the players in the original 1952 game, was included as part of the official party.

The game was a well skated affair and close for the most part with the first goal not being scored until around the 16:35 mark of the second period by the R22eR. The game stayed close until #11 for the R22eR put in the second goal around 3:20 in the third. The PPCLI were not able to come back leaving the 2-0 victory for the R22eR.

There were mascots aplenty with Juno from the Canadian Army and Soohorang, mascot of the 2018 Seoul Winter Olympics and Bandabi, mascot of the 2018 Winter Paralympics. Juno was seen going through the crowd between periods handing out commemorative hockey pucks while the other two managed to get out on the ice for the opening ceremonies and the trophy presentation. There was a moment of levity as the two Korean mascots had trouble getting out onto the ice as their heads were too large to get through the players gate to the ice. With some turning and twisting, they eventually made it out and afterwards did a little dance on the way back in.

The reception was also held in TD Place and was well attended as players, veterans, and family all filled up on pizza and wings.

To see all the pictures, CLICK HERE


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