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Canadians won't be allowed to work on portions of new Canadian spy planes because of U.S. security regulations – Ottawa Citizen

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Canada is buying three surveillance aircraft from the U.S. similar to the U.S. Air Force plane shown in this photo taken in November 2019. The planes will be used by Canadian special forces. U.S. Air Force photo.


Postmedia

Canadians won’t be allowed to work on parts of the country’s new surveillance aircraft because they contain sensitive American-made equipment that can only be handled by U.S. citizens.

Maintenance of the equipment, installed in new planes that will be operated by Canadian special forces, will be off-limits both to Canadian military personnel and Canadian aerospace workers. Instead, the gear or the aircraft will have to be sent to the U.S. for maintenance or U.S. government staff will have to travel to Canada to work on the planes. The equipment is subject to strict U.S. security regulations.

Canadian special forces are to receive three surveillance aircraft from the U.S. government. The planes are expected to arrive in spring 2022. The Beechcraft King Air planes, to be based at CFB Trenton, will be outfitted with sensors and equipment to intercept cellphone and other electronic transmissions, and track individuals and vehicles on the ground. Canadian special forces and, potentially, other federal government departments and the RCMP will use the aircraft for missions overseas and in Canada.

Canada is paying the U.S. government $188 million for the aircraft. The overall value of the project is estimated to be $247 million. The funding includes the acquisition of the aircraft and prime mission equipment from the U.S., and an initial portion of the associated in-service support of the planes. The main contractor is Beechcraft in Wichita, Kan.

The maintenance plan for the sensitive equipment that only Americans can work on has yet to be put in place, but the Canadian military is hoping it won’t disrupt aircraft operations too much.

“Arrangements for the maintenance of certain specialized equipment are not yet in-place; therefore, details and costs are not known at this time,” Public Services and Procurement Canada spokeswoman Stéfanie Hamel noted in an email. “However, Canada will ensure the sustainment strategy supports continued operations while maintenance is underway.”

The government has not provided details on what parts of the aircraft are covered by the U.S. security regulations.

Another in-service support contract, for the aircraft themselves and related mechanical equipment, will also be put in place. Canadians will be able to do that work.

A request for proposals from Canadian firms for that work is expected to be issued in January or February. The contract would cover maintenance and support over a 20-year period.

Canadian aerospace firms had originally wanted to provide the aircraft and on-board equipment, and in 2013 a number of companies responded when the federal government initially outlined its need for such planes.

But the Canadian military decided it needed the planes more quickly than they believed Canadian companies could deliver. The military was also concerned there could be delays if the on-board sensor equipment used was subject to U.S. security regulations.

The Canadian companies, however, felt they could meet the military’s needs with Canadian-made equipment that wouldn’t be covered by U.S. regulations, allowing Canada more flexibility.

But the Canadian government instead opted for the American-made solution, which had also been used by Canadian special forces in Afghanistan. The agreement for the aircraft was finalized on April 26, 2019 with the U.S. government.

Canadian special forces personnel recently trained with similar surveillance aircraft operated by the U.S. In mid-November members of 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment, both based in Petawawa, conducted an exercise supported by one of the American aircraft. The U.S. plane operated from the Ottawa airport, and flights occurred between Petawawa and Mansfield-et-Pontefract, Que., according to Canadian special forces.

“The intent was to conduct a training and needs assessment to ensure the appropriate personnel are trained and equipped to support the arrival of three Beechcraft King Air 350ER as part of the command’s Manned Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance project,” Maj. Amber Bineau, spokesperson for Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, said in an email.

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Senegalese diplomat arrested by Quebec police owed former landlord more than $45,000

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MONTREAL — The detention and alleged beating of a Senegalese diplomat by Quebec police last week occurred while a bailiff was attempting to seize property at her residence in connection with a court judgment against her.

Quebec’s rental board in June ordered Oumou Kalsoum Sall to pay a former landlord more than $45,000 for damage to a furnished home she occupied from Nov. 1, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2020. The tribunal found that she caused flooding that led to structural damage and that her use of the property forced its owner, Michel Lemay, to replace most of his furniture.

“The pictures speak for themselves,” Anne A. Laverdure, an administrative judge, wrote in her ruling. “The furniture is full of cockroaches. Pieces of furniture are scratched and scuffed. Some are missing. Everything is dirty.”

Laverdure awarded Lemay almost $13,500 for structural damage to the home and $23,000 to replace furniture. The administrative judge awarded Lemay another several thousand dollars for other damages.

Court records show that the debt was not paid and that a bailiff went to Kalsoum Sall’s residence in Gatineau, Que., across the river from Ottawa, on Aug. 2 to seize property in connection with the debt.

Kalsoum Sall is a first counsellor at the embassy of the Republic of Senegal in Ottawa, according to a federal government database of foreign delegations. The Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has claimed that the diplomat had to be hospitalized after being handcuffed and beaten by police.

Quebec’s independent police watchdog said Monday it opened an investigation into the incident. Gatineau police have said that they were called to the residence to assist a bailiff and that they arrested a woman with diplomatic status after she allegedly hit a police officer in the face, adding that she was tackled to the ground after allegedly biting another officer.

Global Affairs Canada has described the incident as “unacceptable,” adding that the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations — which Canada has signed — gives diplomats immunity from any form of detention or arrest.

Gilles Rivard, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations and to Haiti, said that while he doesn’t know exactly what happened during the Aug. 2 incident, some diplomats can be aggressive because they believe there will be no consequences for their actions.

“They can be aggressive because they know that they have immunity, so they believe that they can do whatever they want,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

While police are not officially supposed to arrest a diplomat, Rivard said, it’s possible a police officer might handcuff an individual while they wait to confirm the person’s diplomatic status.

“But if after that, that person shows that she is a diplomat, or he is a diplomat, normally they have to be released,” he said.

In 2001, a Russian diplomat struck and killed a woman while driving in Ottawa. The Canadian government asked Russia to waive the diplomat’s immunity so he could be charged in Canada, but Russia refused, Rivard said, adding that Canada’s only option in that case was to expel the diplomat.

Rivard said he doesn’t think the Aug. 2 incident is serious enough to damage Canada’s very good relationship with Senegal.

The Senegalese Embassy in Ottawa did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Tuesday afternoon. A call to the embassy was not answered.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

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Alberta awards prize to essay that argues women should pick babies over careers

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EDMONTON — Alberta has awarded a prize to an essayist who argues the sexes are not equal and that women should pick babies over careers to avoid the province having to import more foreigners and risk “cultural suicide.”

The United Conservative government removed the essay from its legislature website Tuesday following an outcry of condemnation.

Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk — Alberta’s associate minister for the Status of Women and also the contest organizer and one of the judges — also distanced herself from the entire affair.

“The essay contest was intended to reflect a broad range of opinions from young Alberta women on what democracy means for them,” Armstrong-Homeniuk said in a statement.

“While the essay in question certainly does not represent the views of all women, myself included, the essay in question should not have been chosen.”

Armstrong-Homeniuk was not made available for an interview.

Her office declined to say who else sat on the judging committee and how and why the essay was chosen.

The contest advertised that essays would be judged by Armstrong-Homeniuk and other legislature members but did not specify names.

Armstrong-Homeniuk was appointed to the cabinet post in June but has been the face of the contest since it was introduced in February.

The “Her Vision Inspires” contest challenged women ages 17 to 25 to describe their ideas for a better Alberta.

The top two essays suggest ways to get more women, and the public in general, involved in public life.

The third-place winner — identified only as S. Silver — won a $200 prize to be spent at the legislature gift shop.

Silver’s essay posits that the governing mission of humanity is to reproduce itself, but that Alberta has lost its way to instead pursue “selfish and hedonistic goals.”

The solution, she argues, is to acknowledge that “women are not exactly equal to men.”

Society, she writes, should celebrate and embrace the birthing role of women and stop pushing them to put off prime procreation years while they “break into careers that men traditionally dominate.”

She says the idea that Alberta can put off procreation and instead “import foreigners to replace ourselves … is a sickly mentality that amounts to a drive for cultural suicide.”

Opposition NDP critic Rakhi Pancholi said Armstrong-Homeniuk owes the public a full explanation of how this view was not condemned but honoured and rewarded.

“Sexism, racism, hate — this is not what any government should be celebrating, yet increasingly these views are becoming acceptable in this UCP government, and even now applauded,” Pancholi told reporters.

Pancholi zeroed in on the “cultural suicide” reference, likening it to 1930s Nazi Germany urging women to be baby vessels to propagate the Aryan race.

“This is an absolutely reprehensible claim. It is a nod to the racist replacement theory that drives white nationalist hate,” she said.

The contest was run through the legislative assembly office, which is headed up by Speaker Nathan Cooper.

Cooper’s office, in a statement, said the contest was conceived and administered by Armstrong-Homeniuk in her role as regional chair of the Commonwealth Women’s Parliamentarians group.

“Neither the Speaker’s office nor the legislative assembly office were involved with the selection of the essays in any capacity, including who was on the MLA panel judging the contest,” said the statement.

“As soon as the content of the third-place winner was brought to the Speaker’s attention, he immediately made the decision for the content to be removed.

“The content is abhorrent and does not reflect the views of the Speaker or the legislative assembly office.”

Three candidates in the race to replace Premier Jason Kenney as party leader and premier also took to Twitter to criticize the award.

“It’s a disgrace that an essay saying women are not equal to men won an award sponsored by government. Women, and their contributions, are equally valuable and amazing whether we are moms or not. Can’t believe this needs to be said,” wrote Rebecca Schulz.

Rajan Sawhney followed up, writing, “Agree, Rebecca. Same goes for the comments about ‘foreigners.’ Alberta is the proud home of people from all over the world — from Ukraine, to the Philippines, and everywhere in between.”

Leela Aheer said, “Well, I read 1st and 2nd place (essays). Those were great! I’m not sure how the 3rd essay elevates women.”

Lise Gotell, a women’s and gender studies professor at the University of Alberta, said the essay perpetuates an essentialist, sexist and racist point of view stemming from the long discredited and outdated concept that a women’s role is to reproduce as a bulwark against immigration.

“The fact that it was chosen says a great deal about the views on appropriate gender roles being advanced by this government,” said Gotell in an interview.

“This essay reads like something that quite frankly could’ve been written in the 19th century.”

—  With files from Angela Amato in Edmonton

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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Two miners trapped in Dominican Republic rescued with help from Canada

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OTTAWA — Defence Minister Anita Anand says two miners who were trapped in an underground mine for 10 days in the Dominican Republic have been rescued with the help of Canada.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Anand said the Royal Canadian Air Force transported mining equipment to Santo Domingo following a request for assistance from the Dominican government.

Two miners with the Dominican Mining Corporation, known as Cormidom, had been trapped since July 31 in an underground mine.

According to a news release from the Dominican Republic Embassy on Saturday, Canada was expected to send over a mining excavation system made up of machines, tools and various rescue technologies.

The statement says the equipment was provided by Machines Roger International, a mining company based in Val-d’Or, Que.

Anand thanked the Royal Canadian Air Force personnel involved in the mission who arrived in the Dominican Republic on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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