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Canada nearly lost 2018 UN mission because it didn’t have enough women in uniform

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Canada came within a whisker of losing its place in a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the fall of 2018 because of the military’s inability to consistently deploy enough women to meet the world body’s guidelines.

For the Liberal government, the political optics would have been horrible had the UN’s department of peacekeeping carried out its threat to “reallocate” the post in the critical international mission in South Sudan.

The government has made the recruitment of more women for peacekeeping operations a policy priority — something that was mentioned prominently during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent tour of Africa, where he attempted to drum up support for Canada’s bid for a Security Council seat.

In 2018, the UN was talked out of dropping Canada from the Sudan mission by Canadian officials who assured the world body that a better rotation system was being put in place by the Department of National Defence — one that would see the required number of women attached to the mission.

Extraordinary pressure

That near-miss, however, points to the Canadian military’s wider struggle to recruit women in large numbers, and to the extraordinary pressure the UN guidelines have imposed on the existing pool of talented, qualified female soldiers.

UN guidelines mandate that, for observer missions like the one in South Sudan, 15 per cent of each country’s staff officer and military observer positions must be filled by women. (Deployed operations, such as the recently concluded mission to Mali, have different, less strict metrics.)

In order to boost representation on the observer missions, the UN peacekeeping department even relaxed the rules for each country, allowing for women lower in the ranks (such as lieutenants and warrant officers) to be counted, where previously they had not.

The UN reviews countries’ mission representation every quarter. In the fall of 2018, Canada was told it would lose its deployment to South Sudan, documents obtained by CBC News reveal.

“Canada failed to meet the target in the last quarter, and as a result, at the end of September the UN advised that the CAF position in UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) was going to be reallocated to another country. The UN has since indicated that it will not reallocate the position, given the measures the CAF is putting in place to rectify the situation.” said a briefing note for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan dated Oct. 29, 2018.

Canada gets an exemption

The Canadian office at the UN was notified of the decision by fax and it set off an immediate response. A defence official with knowledge of the file said Canada wasn’t the only nation to receive the warning in the fall of 2018.

Once the UN’s department of peacekeeping was told about the measures the government was putting in place, an exemption was granted, said the official, who spoke on background but was not authorized to publicly address the issue.

Canada’s inability to meet the recruitment threshold had been a long-standing issue, according to the briefing note.

“Initial reporting has shown for over a year that we have not been consistently meeting the 15 per cent target. For example, we were at 8.7 per cent in October 2017, 15.8 per cent in May 2018 and 4.8 per cent in August,” said the document, obtained by CBC News through access to information legislation.

 

Canadian peacekeepers prepare for a parade at Maple Leaf Camp in Port-au-Prince Nov. 28, 1997. (Daniel Morel/Canadian Press, AP)

 

The report goes on to note that, “based on the amount of UN officer and military observer positions allocated to Canada, Canada needs at five women deployed” on observer missions at any one time. At the time the briefing was written, only one woman was in the field.

Despite the government’s political pronouncements, the Canadian military is still getting used to looking at deployments through a gender lens.

A ‘strain’ on the Canadian Forces

The “process for identifying the right member for deployment is aimed — above all else — [at] ensuring the selected member has the right qualifications, skill set and experience for the position at hand,” said the briefing note, adding that having a larger pool of women serving throughout the military eventually would solve the problem.

Stefani von Hlatky, an associate professor of political studies at Queen’s University, said the issue is about more than just recruiting more women — it’s also about having women with the right skill sets.

“There is typically a high demand [on UN missions] for infantry officers and that is not a trade where women are particularly well-represented,” she told CBC News.

“If Canada is to meet, consistently, targets that are imposed by the UN when it comes to the representation of women in UN missions, then it is constantly going to be a strain for the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Women already serving in the Canadian Forces could face unique pressure, given their limited numbers.

“There is the consideration that if the Canadian Armed Forces is asked to constantly meet that target and simply doesn’t have the numbers to consistently hit the 15 per cent target from rotation to rotation, there might be more pressure on women to deploy more often and might impact the career trajectory of individual women,” Von Hlatky said.

The defence minister said he recognizes the challenges and the amount of work it will take to ensure there is meaningful representation by women on UN observer operations.

Harjit Sajjan also defended the government’s record.

“We’ve worked very hard to ensure that if we’ve been telling other nations to have more women in peacekeeping operations, that we’re going to lead by example, and we have,” said Sajjan, who noted Canada has put women in charge of NATO operations and in senior posts within the military alliance.

But NATO, said von Hlatky, does not impose specific gender targets on its missions — and Canada’s soaring rhetoric and promises have created expectations.

“I definitely think there is a gap between the rhetoric and the practice,” she said.

“I think Canada, in terms of its rhetoric, should be careful to adjust that rhetoric to its means.”

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‘Support them or lose them’: Chinatowns across Canada grapple with coronavirus fears – Global News

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Most of Calgary’s city councillors had lunch at a restaurant in Chinatown this week to try to help reduce fears about the new coronavirus.

Businesses in Chinatowns across Canada have reported a drop in activity since COVID-19 hit China in January and started to spread around the world.

At Ho Wan Restaurant in Calgary, the owners’ son, Jason Zhang, says business is down about 70 per cent.

“People are not coming out very much,” he said in an interview. “It was the slowest Family Day I’ve seen.


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Going on vacation amid the coronavirus outbreak? Here’s what to know

“It’s hard to predict when people come out … but, in general, especially during the regular times, it’s just a percentage shock.”

Coun. Druh Farrell, whose ward includes Chinatown, said council members went to the restaurant for lunch to show Calgarians it’s safe to eat out.

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“Business in Chinatown is way down — in some restaurants 70 to 80 per cent,” she said.

“It’s a dreadful burden on the businesses, so we wanted to show our support and encourage Calgarians to stand behind their local businesses, especially in Chinatown.”

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There have been no cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, but there are 12 confirmed cases in Ontario and British Columbia. Around the world, about 81,000 people have become ill with the virus. The World Health Organization is reporting cases in 37 countries outside China.






1:48
Calgary city council steps out for lunch, stops in Chinatown to support hurting businesses


Calgary city council steps out for lunch, stops in Chinatown to support hurting businesses

Concerns about a decline in visitors have been reported in Chinatowns across North America.

In the United States, there’s a campaign in New York to “Show Some Love for Chinatown.” Food crawls have been arranged to help Chicago’s Chinatown and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited San Francisco’s Chinatown District on Monday to try to quell fears.

Chinatown businesses in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto have all reported a decline in customers.

Alex Wang, who runs the Peninsula Seafood Restaurant in Vancouver, told Global News he has seen business drop more than 70 per cent and is worried the restaurant won’t be able to survive longer than three months.


READ MORE:
Countries take dramatic steps to contain new virus that ‘doesn’t respect borders’

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In Edmonton, the chairwoman of the Chinatown and Area Business Association said there’s been a noticeable decline in activity this winter.

“There’s a general fear out there with the coronavirus,” said Holly Mah.

Some of that drop, she said, could be related to the generally slower winter season and Alberta’s sluggish economy.

Toronto’s Chinatown has also noticed a decline in customers.

“It’s a concern,” said Tonny Louie, chairman of the Chinatown Business Improvement Area. “People, in the back of their minds, they still wonder what will be next. This virus … is pretty hard to contain.”






3:29
Coronavirus fears fueling racism


Coronavirus fears fueling racism

He said business has picked up in the last couple of weeks, but noted streets were quiet after the first patient was admitted to hospital in Toronto.

“It was completely desolate for a week and a half,” he said. “No cars at all. And there’s all kinds of parking spots in Chinatown, so that means people were not coming in.”

Louie said some people have started to return, but there’s a dip every time there’s bad news.

“Not a lot of facts are known,” he said. “So far, they haven’t been able to identify a vaccine or a cure for it, other than go home and get rested up and isolate yourself and wash your hands.”

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Louie said the group will be handing out hand sanitizer and dispensers to all businesses to help ease fears.


READ MORE:
Is Canada ready for a widespread coronavirus outbreak? Yes and no, experts say

“Right now, the only possibility that they are talking about catching it is with hand touching and contact, so we can solve that problem at least.”

Back in Alberta, health officials reminded people Wednesday to take precautions.

“Practice good infection prevention habits,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said in Edmonton. “Protect others by staying home when you are sick and covering coughs and sneezes.

Hinshaw said the risk in Alberta remains low and there is no need to stay home or avoid public places.

Farrell said she will continue to tell people about her favourite spots in Calgary.

“Chinatown is filled with family-owned restaurants and we need to support them or lose them,” she said.

“It is a treasured community.”

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Premier Kenney stops in Calgary’s Chinatown to discuss coronavirus concerns


Premier Kenney stops in Calgary’s Chinatown to discuss coronavirus concerns

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Canada will not pay for Prince Harry and Meghan's security after March – CBC.ca

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Canada has been providing RCMP security to Prince Harry and Meghan since November, Public Safety Canada has confirmed to CBC News, after weeks of speculation about whether Canadians would have to pay for the couple’s security bills while they are in this country.

But the Government of Canada intends to cease contributing to those costs “in the coming weeks,” says the office of Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex cease their activities as working members of the Royal Family on March 31.

A statement to CBC News Thursday morning reads in full:

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex choosing to relocate to Canada on a part-time basis presented our government with a unique and unprecedented set of circumstances. The RCMP has been engaged with officials in the U.K. from the very beginning regarding security considerations.

“As the Duke and Duchess are currently recognized as Internationally Protected Persons, Canada has an obligation to provide security assistance on an as-needed basis. At the request of the Metropolitan Police, the RCMP has been providing assistance to the Met since the arrival of the Duke and Duchess to Canada intermittently since November 2019. The assistance will cease in the coming weeks, in keeping with their change in status.”

CBC News had been asking the government to reveal the arrangement under which Harry and Meghan have relocated to Canada.

British media, citing British sources, said that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already given the U.K. a commitment that the Canadian government will contribute to the costs.

But Trudeau had never confirmed that. 

Trudeau told Global TV on Jan. 13 that the Canadian government had not really been involved in any negotiations around the couple’s new arrangements.

Prince Harry and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak prior to the official launch of the Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017. During official visits to Canada, Harry’s security has been provided by the RCMP and paid for by the federal government. (Canadian Press)

“We haven’t, up until this point, not in any real way. But there will be many discussions to come on how that works … that will go about between officials at different levels,” he told Global TV.

Trudeau and other government officials had cited the need to keep security arrangements confidential as a reason not to disclose the arrangements made for Harry and Meghan. He had also said that discussions had not yet concluded. 

When asked about it at a cabinet retreat in Winnipeg on Jan. 21, shortly after the couple confirmed their plan to move to Canada, Trudeau replied: “I have not spoken to her majesty directly…. Discussions continue to be ongoing and I have no updates at this moment.”

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Feb. 9, Trudeau said: “I don’t comment on operational details, but there are long-standing protocols in place that are being followed.”

It now appears the discussions have concluded with an outcome that leaves the question of security at the door of the couple themselves, and of the British government and Metropolitan Police that have always been charged with their protection.

By cutting off the famous couple “in the coming weeks,” the Trudeau government avoids taking on a deeply unpopular financial burden.

Polls by Leger and the Angus Reid Institute have found that only about one in five Canadians believe it is an appropriate use of tax money to pay for the couple’s security arrangements.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation delivered a petition to the Prime Minister’s Office with 80,000 signatures on it insisting that Canadian taxpayer money not be diverted to them.

Public Safety’s reference to the government’s legal obligation to provide security to what are called Internationally Protected Persons describes a group that includes visiting diplomats, dignitaries and functionaries of other governments who are in Canada on an official visit.

Harry and Meghan arrived in Canada as full working members of the Royal Family on a temporary visit, and the RCMP has always provided security for those visits, with taxpayers picking up the bill.

By the time Trudeau spoke in Munich earlier this month, much had changed. Harry and Meghan had announced their plans to leave their royal roles behind. Under an agreement reached with Buckingham Palace, they will officially end their royal duties on March 31.

The question of who will pick up the tab for the couple’s security after March 31 is far from settled.

The British media in recent days has been full of stories citing anonymous Metropolitan Police sources complaining about the strain the couple’s move has put on the force.

Security experts, including retired Met police protection officers, have estimated that the cost of protecting the couple in their new life could fall in the range of $10 million to $30 million a year.

On the heels of a ‘Sandringham Summit’ on Megxit, Queen Elizabeth says Harry and Meghan will spend time in Canada and the U.K. during a period of ‘transition’ and that the Royal family is ‘entirely supportive’ of the couple’s desire to live a more independent life. 4:01

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Timeline coronavirus (COVID-19) in Canada – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Health officials in Ontario have confirmed another case of the novel coronavirus in the province. There have been 13 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Canada — six in Ontario and seven in British Columbia.

Here is a timeline of Canadian cases.

Feb. 27, 2020: Ontario officials confirm a sixth case of COVID-19 in the province. They say the man in his 60s is the husband of Ontario’s fifth patient with the virus.

Feb. 26, 2020: Ontario officials announce a fifth diagnosis in the province: a woman in her 60s who recently travelled to Iran.

Feb. 24, 2020: Henry announces a seventh person in B.C. has been diagnosed with the new coronavirus. The man in his 40s was in close contact with the woman who has the province’s sixth case of the illness.

Feb. 23, 2020: Officials in Toronto announce Ontario has a new case of coronavirus — the fourth to be diagnosed in the province. The woman arrived in Toronto from China several days earlier.

Feb. 21, 2020: The last known case of coronavirus in Ontario is resolved.

Feb. 20, 2020: A woman who recently returned from Iran is diagnosed with British Columbia’s sixth case of COVID-19. She’s the first person in the country diagnosed with the illness who did not recently visit China. Meanwhile, in Ontario, the man who had Canada’s first case of the virus is cleared after testing negative for the illness twice in 24 hours.

Feb. 19, 2020: Henry announces that the person diagnosed with B.C.’s first case of the new coronavirus has recovered. It’s the first time this has happened in the province.

Feb. 14, 2020: Officials in B.C. announce the province’s fifth case of COVID-19. The woman in her 30s who lives in B.C.’s Interior recently returned from Hubei province.

Feb. 12, 2020: Ontario health officials say the woman from London, Ont., no longer has the novel coronavirus in her system. It marks the first time a case of the illness has been resolved in Canada.

Feb. 6, 2020: Henry announces two new cases of COVID-19 in B.C., noting both people were in the same household as the woman diagnosed with the province’s second case.

Feb. 5, 2020: British Columbia’s second case of coronavirus is confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab.

Feb. 4, 2020: Health officials announce another presumptive confirmed case in B.C. Henry says the woman had family visiting from China’s Hubei province and she is in isolation at her home.

Jan. 31, 2020: Ontario’s third case of the new coronavirus is confirmed. The patient, a woman in her 20s, had travelled to the affected area in China. The London university student initially tested negative for the virus, but a subsequent test at the national lab in Winnipeg was positive. Health officials say her symptoms are minor.

Jan. 31, 2020: Toronto man hospitalized with the novel coronavirus is well enough to go home. Sunnybrook Hospital says he’ll continue to recover at home, where his wife is also in self-isolation.

Jan. 28, 2020: The presumed case of the new strain of coronavirus in B.C. is confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

Jan 28, 2020: Health officials in British Columbia say a man in his 40s is presumed to have the new coronavirus and is doing well as he recovers at his Vancouver home. B.C.’s health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, says the man often works in China and voluntarily isolated himself upon returning to Canada.

Jan 28, 2020: Health authorities confirm Canada’s second case of the novel coronavirus. The woman had recently travelled to Wuhan with her husband, who was the first case confirmed in Canada.

Jan. 27, 2020: The National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg confirms that a man in quarantine in Sunnybrook Hospital is Canada’s first documented case of the new coronavirus.

Jan. 26, 2020: The wife of the Toronto man who was Canada’s first “presumptive” case of the new coronavirus becomes the second presumptive case. The woman is kept in home isolation.

Jan. 25, 2020: A man in his 50s who arrived in Toronto from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the outbreak, becomes the first “presumptive” case of the new coronavirus in Canada. The man called 911 as soon as he got sick with relatively minor symptoms and was placed in isolation in Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.

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