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Canada can be ‘leader’ in providing Ukraine with armoured vehicles: Anand – Global News

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Canada can be a “leader” among the NATO military alliance in providing Ukraine with armoured vehicles as its war with Russia continues, the national defence minister says.

Since the full-scale war began on Feb. 24, Ottawa has committed more than $600 million in military assistance to Ukraine, including equipment like drone cameras, artillery rounds and satellite communications.

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As NATO summit ends, Canada promises more military aid to Ukraine

With western nations vowing to continuously arm Ukraine as the conflict drags on, Canada can become a major provider of armoured vehicles by turning to its domestic manufacturing sector for assistance, Anita Anand said, pointing to two Canadian firms providing them so far.

“In terms of vehicles, I’ve asked my colleagues across the NATO alliance to think about Canada as a leader in this area because what we are providing to Ukraine are brand-new vehicles fresh off the line to make sure that Ukraine has best-in-class technology,” Anand said in an interview for The New Reality, Global News’ current affairs program.


Click to play video: 'Canada can be ‘leader’ in providing Ukraine with armoured vehicles: Anand'

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Canada can be ‘leader’ in providing Ukraine with armoured vehicles: Anand


Over the last several Ramstein-style defence meetings, Anand said Ukraine’s allies have agreed military aid to the country needs to be divided among allies according to their unique capabilities.

Anand told Global News that she has had conversations with Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg about Canada’s armoured-vehicle manufacturing industry.

“In terms of military aid going forward, we will continue to be that leader. We are recognized as such by Minister Reznikov, by Jens Stoltenberg, and what Ukraine needs now is an all-hands-on-deck moment.”


Click to play video: 'G7 leaders vow to back Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’'

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G7 leaders vow to back Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’


However, whether Canada is up to the task of becoming such a leader in providing those armoured vehicles remains a key question, some Canadian defence experts suggest.

“Armoured vehicles, land vehicles are a key focus of the defence industrial base in Canada. So it’s no accident that’s what one of the things we ended up sending to Ukraine, a country that needs virtually everything for its military,” said David Perry, president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Perry described the technology as “one of the few final assembly weapon systems that are actually produced in this country.”

“There’s certainly, I think, opportunity for that segment of the Canadian industry to be more present in Ukraine or across Europe even,” he added. “But there’s a lot of things would have to happen in a very competitive market landscape for that to happen.

Lt.-Col Mark Popov, a former armour officer who commanded a Canadian combat team in Afghanistan, said Anand had offered “a very ambitious statement,” but one lacking details.

“There’s no timeline or context,” he said.

“Canada simply does not have the ability to manufacture massive amounts of armoured vehicles and become a world leader in this compared to our own NATO allies, and some other non-allied countries out there that manufacture military equipment.”

Canadian armoured vehicles being sent to Ukraine

Earlier this year, Anand made two announcements on armoured vehicles for Ukraine: the first, on April 26, was with Mississauga, Ont.-based manufacturer Roshel to send eight armoured-personnel carriers overseas. The second came on July 7 at General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) in London, Ont., which is supplying a shipment of 39 armoured combat support vehicles for Ukraine.

When Anand met with Stoltenberg and other NATO defence ministers earlier this month, she announced a $47-million, new military aid package that included $15.2 million in equipment from the Canadian Armed Forces’ inventory, including 155-mm NATO-standard artillery rounds.


One of 39 ACSVs being sent overseas as part of Canada’s latest round of military aid for Ukraine.


Andrew Graham/Global News

When the NATO defence ministers meeting wrapped up earlier this month, Stoltenberg said NATO will continue to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes,” but weapons shortages among many NATO allies have strained already depleted arms stockpiles.

Ottawa has previously dipped into the Canadian Armed Forces inventory to provide military equipment to the Ukrainian military, and has vowed to replenish it; the Liberal government has faced calls to boost defence spending to meet NATO’s target of spending two per cent of GDP on the military.

The Liberal government spent an estimated 1.36 per cent of Canada’s GDP on the military last year, with only four other NATO members having spent less: Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Spain. Canada’s defence spending increased 67 per cent between 2014 and 2021, with about half of that spent on personnel, according to a June 9 parliamentary budget office report.

“Canada has lagged on so many commitments of capability, not just raw spending for the ability of the Canadian Armed Forces,” Popov said.

“It’s not the people: the sailor, soldiers and aviators of the Canadian Forces do an amazing job with what they have, but they have not been properly equipped or supported with the right capabilities that this world requires that we’re seeing are needed in real-time on the news every day coming from Ukraine.”

An added challenge is the upcoming winter season in Ukraine, where the conditions can be very rough, said Richard Shimooka, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

Armoured combat support vehicles are “not going to be as effective” in that weather, which is notorious for its amount of mud, he said.

“We’re not really giving them as much as we could, or we should, so to speak, and it’s far less ideal than what’s required,” Shimooka said.

Popov believes Canada should focus on providing equipment that is “necessary to keep soldiers and sailors and aviators alive” during the cold.


Click to play video: 'Abandoned Russian military base holds secrets of retreat in Ukraine'

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Abandoned Russian military base holds secrets of retreat in Ukraine


The gear includes sleeping bags, parkas, windproof/waterproof outer garments and space heaters, he said. In fact, as part of Ottawa’s recent aid announcement, it said it would be shipping winter clothing to Ukrainian troops.

At the end of the day, Popov wants Ottawa to be “realistic in its outlook and for our citizens to be realistic in theirs.”

“Canada leading armoured vehicle purchase provision to Ukraine is ludicrous, quite honestly,” he said.

“We need to get off the fence and be serious about this as Canadians and our government needs to start being realistic, providing not only Ukraine, but also domestically its own armed forces with the capabilities required.”

— with files from Mercedes Stephenson

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Tick-borne germs increasingly widespread in Canada: study – CTV News

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Researchers from Quebec and Ontario are calling for better testing to track the spread of tick-borne germs as disease-causing bacteria gain new ground in Canada.

Ticks are blood-sucking arachnids that can carry pathogens – bacteria, viruses and parasites – like those that cause Lyme disease. Now, McGill University PhD candidate Kirsten Crandall says pathogens that are local to other regions are beginning to show up across central Canada.

“While the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne pathogen in Canada, other tick-borne pathogens are moving in,” she said in a media release published on Nov. 17.

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In a study published in the medical journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases on Nov. 9, Crandall and her co-authors from McGill and the University of Ottawa warned that two pathogens, Babesia odocoilei and Rickettsia rickettsii, had been detected in Canada outside of their historic geographic range.

Babesia odocoilei causes a malaria-like parasitic disease called babesiosis. Babesiosis can be asymptomatic or it can cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue.

Rickettsia rickettsii causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever and anaplasmosis, and is normally found in the United States, Western Canada, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia.

Both bacteria can infect animals and humans, and both were found in ticks and small mammals in Quebec. According to the study, climate change, habitat fragmentation and changes in the abundance of tick populations and their hosts are all driving the spread of emerging tick-borne pathogens like these across Canada.

“The presence of these pathogens changes the risk of disease for Canadians and animals in some densely populated areas of Canada,” Crandall said.

Crandall and her team made the detections using methods that went beyond those normally used in tick monitoring studies. By testing ticks at all life cycle stages, they discovered that female ticks can actually pass pathogens to their larval young. They also tested for pathogens not already listed as nationally notifiable diseases in Canada.

She said the findings demonstrate the need for better testing and tracking to detect the spread and potential risk of tick-borne pathogens to humans and animals throughout the country.

“Only two tick-borne pathogens are listed as nationally notifiable diseases in Canada: Lyme disease and tularemia,” she said. “However, we are seeing increased cases of diseases like anaplasmosis and babesiosis in humans in Canada.”

Jeremy Kerr, a professor and research chair at the University of Ottawa’s department of biology, said the study highlights the importance of funding more research into tick-borne diseases that haven’t historically been common in Canada.

“If we don’t know that pathogens are present, we can’t equip Canadians with the information they need to protect themselves,” he said in a statement released on Nov. 17. “COVID has diverted public health resources away from challenges like this one, and we need to remember that these tick-borne diseases are on the move too.” 

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National security concerns prompt bill to modernize foreign investment screening

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The Liberal government says it will make the most significant updates to the federal investment screening law in more than a decade to address evolving national security concerns.

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne plans to table the proposed changes to the Investment Canada Act later today.

Champagne’s ministerial mandate letter directs him to promote economic security and combat foreign interference by modernizing the act to strengthen the national security review process and better address threats posed by investments from abroad.

He was also told to use all tools, including the Investment Canada Act, to ensure protection and development of Canada’s critical minerals.

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Canada sees critical mineral exploration, extraction, processing and manufacturing as keys to becoming a global leader in the production of batteries and other clean technologies.

In October, the government announced plans to restrict the involvement of foreign state-owned companies in Canada’s critical minerals sector amid a global rush for the resources and growing tensions with China.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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‘More to do’ on systemic barriers facing Muslim charities, Trudeau acknowledges

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledges there is “significantly more to do” on the systemic barriers that confront Muslim charities amid concerns from a federal watchdog that his review of the issue also faces roadblocks.

In a statement last month, taxpayers’ ombudsperson François Boileau said his office was having trouble obtaining information needed from the Canada Revenue Agency to conduct his review.

Following her participation in a national summit last year on Islamophobia, Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier asked the ombudsperson to conduct a systemic review of the concerns of certain Muslim charities about their treatment by the revenue agency.

Lebouthillier asked the watchdog to pay particular attention to concerns about the selection of files for audit purposes by the Review and Analysis Division of the revenue agency’s charities directorate.

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A 2021 report by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group said the division works with national security agencies to carry out these audits, with little accountability or independent review.

Asked about the ombudsperson’s difficulties today, Trudeau says there is significantly more to do on the overall issue, adding the government will look at what next steps can be taken to ensure accountability and openness.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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