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How Canada helped Ukraine learn to stop fighting wars the Soviet way –



For months after Moscow launched its full invasion a year ago, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau resorted to a standard message whenever it was accused of going too slowly, or doing too little, in its efforts to help Ukraine.

Did we ever tell you Canada trained over 33,000 Ukrainian soldiers?

That message served as both talking point and deflection. It was bolted onto almost every speech and media response line in Ottawa during those early months, as the world was riveted by the dramatic stand Ukrainian soldiers made outside the capital Kyiv and in Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city.


CBC News has been on the ground covering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from the start. What do you want to know about their experience there? Send an email to Our reporters will be taking your questions as the one-year anniversary approaches.

At the time, many world leaders and seasoned military, defence and geopolitical observers were expecting Ukraine’s defence to collapse swiftly in the face of Russia’s vastly superior manpower, firepower and airpower. The experts were subsequently caught off-guard by the determination and professionalism of Ukraine’s military, and by its early victories against a brutal antagonist.

There are many reasons explaining Ukraine’s survival. They start with the palpable rage that has united Ukrainians — a visceral anger that only grows with each new atrocity, each indiscriminate missile attack taking innocent lives.

The Russian Army itself is another reason. With their ill-prepared soldiers, uncoordinated units, snarled logistics and a habit of combining over-confidence with a lack of competence, Russian Army commanders have bungled their war to a degree that has been as astonishing as the Ukrainians’ performance has been inspiring.

The remains of a destroyed Russian tank are seen near a church in Sviatohirsk, Ukraine.
A destroyed Russian tank stands across the road from a church in the town of Sviatohirsk, Ukraine on Jan. 6, 2023. (Evgeniy Maloletka/The Associated Press)

But most military commanders will tell you that wars are won and lost on the training grounds — in the mindset instilled in soldiers by that training.

Which is where Canada and its allies came in.

CBC News wanted to know how much of a difference Canada’s much-hyped military training mission made to Ukraine’s ability to survive over the last year. We spoke to both Ukrainian and Canadian soldiers. 

For seven years leading up to last year’s invasion, hundreds of Canadian soldiers deployed to western Ukraine to train an already battle-tested army that was holding back Russian-backed proxy forces in the eastern Donbas region.

The trainees were put through advanced courses in just about all aspects of combat, from marksmanship and checking for booby-trapped vehicles to battlefield medical treatment and evacuation.

Canadian Brig.-Gen. Tim Arsenault commanded one of the early rotations of trainers. He vividly remembers the sobering experience of watching the first Ukrainian troops arrive directly from the eastern front at the training centre in Yavoriv, near the Polish border.

“What will stick with me the most is just watching that first battalion come in from the Donbas, and seeing the state of the soldiers, who were very tired,” said Arsenault.

“I think it really hit home at that point in time, how it was affecting Ukrainians … at a very basic, you know, moral level, and the fact that they felt almost violated to have to fight with one neighbour who spoke the same language as many of them.”

Col. Sergeii Maltsev of the Ukrainian National Guard tells CBC News his soldiers were 'skeptical' of allied training efforts at first.
Col. Sergeii Maltsev of the Ukrainian National Guard tells CBC News his soldiers were ‘skeptical’ of allied training efforts at first. (Murray Brewster/CBC News)

Arsenault said he encountered “a certain degree of reticence” among the Ukrainians, all of whom had combat experience. Col. Sergeii Maltsev of the Ukrainian National Guard said his soldiers were doubtful at first.

“I think some of our people were skeptical,” Maltsev told CBC News in a recent interview in Kyiv.

“Maybe it was the fear of the changes? Maybe because they didn’t know at the beginning what it will give as a final result.”

In the end, the Canadian training made two key contributions to Ukraine’s defence, said Maltsev, a short, tough, wiry soldier who has been fighting Russians since the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

The first was the combat medical training provided in the later stages Operation Unifier, the Canadian name for the training mission.

That training has saved many lives, said Maltsev. His opinion was backed up by Ukrainian soldiers CBC News recently interviewed outside of Bakhmut, the focal point of the Russian winter offensive.

WATCH | Canadian trainers urged Ukrainian soldiers to seize initiative: 

Canada’s mission to train Ukrainian soldiers

12 hours ago

Duration 5:34

Canadian soldiers have trained tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops on Western military tactics. Two Canadians involved in that training and a Ukrainian on the front line tell CBC’s David Common how it has helped Ukraine survive this long.

The second critical contribution was the training of sergeants and non-commissioned officers — a mid-level layer of command that made Ukrainian units far more nimble than their opponents.

“Previously, it was [an] old-Soviet type approach,” said Maltsev, referring to a top-down command structure that discourages troops from taking the initiative without orders.

  • This week, join The National, hosted by the CBC’s chief correspondent, Adrienne Arsenault, in Kyiv. Watch at 9 p.m. ET on CBC News Network, 10 p.m. on CBC-TV, or stream it on CBC Gem and CBC News Explore.

“We improved the role of our sergeants in our military, and with your help, with Canadian help, we developed our sergeant … training programs. And now sergeants are capable to assist effectively, assist the officers and even to command their small units, without any assistance or officers’ assistance. So they can take the lead. They can take the decision directly at the battlefield, without any consultation with higher ranks.”

Lt.-Col. Melanie Lake was one of the last Canadian training commanders to work with the Ukrainians before the onset of major hostilities. She finished her tour in the fall of 2021.

Changing the mindset of the Ukrainians away from the old Soviet approach of waiting for orders was an uphill battle, she said.

Lt.-Col. Melanie Lake says one major challenge for Canadian trainers was to get the Ukrainians to let go of the old Soviet-style command and control approach.
Lt.-Col. Melanie Lake says one major challenge for Canadian trainers was to get the Ukrainians to let go of the old Soviet-style command and control approach. (Murray Brewster/CBC News)

“In the old Soviet system, there was very much a culture of punishment,” she said. “So you have to break the risk-aversion that comes from that culture of punishment, the … aversion to delegating authority, empowering subordinates.”

Nothing demonstrated the drawbacks of the Russian military mentality better, she said, than the fate of that 65-kilometre-long convoy that had been barrelling down on Kyiv in early 2022 — before it was stopped dead in its tracks and picked apart by Ukrainian resistance.

“Nobody could make a decision,” said Lake. “You’ve got senior [Russian] generals coming forward, coming way too far forward and getting picked off because they’re the only ones who are empowered to make decisions.

“And then you see the contrast of the small teams of Ukrainians enabled with anti-armour weapons, or picking off a general … execution in small teams that allows them to see initiative.”

Volodymyr, who serves with a Ukrainian National Guard artillery unit near Bakhmut, said early victories in the war convinced Ukrainians that they could prevail.
Volodymyr, who serves with a Ukrainian National Guard artillery unit near Bakhmut, said early victories in the war convinced Ukrainians that they could prevail. (Murray Brewster/CBC News)

Volodymyr is a lieutenant serving with a Ukrainian National Guard artillery unit near Bakhmut; CBC News is identifying him only by his first name, for his protection. He said it was victories like halting the convoy outside Kyiv that convinced Ukrainians that they could win.

“In the very beginning of this war, there were lots Ukrainian defence specialists saying that there is a big Soviet army fighting against, like, [a] small Soviet army,” he said. “But you see what’s happening.”

Another Canadian training commander, Col. Kris Reeves, now admits that when Moscow launched its full invasion on February 24, 2022, he feared the Ukrainians were going to get bulldozed.

“February 24 — I’ve said this to my wife — to me, that’s my 911 moment,” Reeves told CBC News in Ottawa.

“I had this rock in my stomach, this pit of my gut … thinking everything they had worked for, everything we worked for to help them, is going to be gone.”

It’s also possible Canadian military training will have a deeper legacy in post-war Ukraine.

CBC News spoke to a senior Ukrainian lieutenant in charge of a mortar battery — a young woman in an army still beset by gender stereotypes. Krystyna “Kudriava” (her nom-de-guerre, meaning “curly hair”) said she met Lake in her capacity as the Canadian in charge of the training mission in early 2021 — and was inspired to find a woman commanding soldiers.

Krystyna "Kudriava" said receiving combat instruction from a woman in uniform was inspiring.
Krystyna “Kudriava” said receiving combat instruction from a woman in uniform was inspiring. (Murray Brewster/CBC News)

“Meeting Col. Melanie Lake was a very significant event for me,” she said. “And obviously, after I heard the Canadian commanding officer of Operation Unifier was coming and she was a female, I had the great desire to just communicate with her to share our experiences, to hear her story.

“And to my amazement, she happened to be very open in terms of her personality.”

The two became close. Lake gave Krystyna a commander’s coin and in return she received a bracelet made out of bullets.

When asked whether she believes she’ll return to Ukraine eventually for its Aug. 24 independence day celebrations, Lake doesn’t hesitate.

“Absolutely. I have no doubt. I have no doubt.”

Ukrainian National Guard troops take part in a mock casualty care exercise — part of the battlefield medicine training they received from Canadians. (Murray Brewster/CBC News)

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Canada’s Climate Crisis: An In-Depth Look at the Current State and What’s Being Done to Combat It



Canada's Climate Crisis

Canada’s annual average temperature increased by 1.9C from 1948 to 2021. According to the Government of Canada, northern regions exhibited an increase in annual mean temperature three times over the global mean warming rate.

Climate change affects food security, biological diversity, and people’s health. Many believe that Canada’s dealing with a climate crisis and wondering what’s been done to combat it. Here’s a quick overview of the current situation and the plans the government has available to tackle this problem.

What’s the Current Climate Situation in Canada?

According to the last update from the Climate Action Tracker, the action taken by Canada has been rated as “highly insufficient.” That means the country isn’t in line with the global agreement made in Paris to stick to the 1.5C limit.

Furthermore, CAT experts believe the emission reduction target by 2030 is only enough to be in line with a 4C warming. They warn that Canada should strengthen their climate policies and targets while offering more support to others to reach set goals.


Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan

The plan for reducing emissions by 2030 was adopted in March 2022, and the government itself describes it as achievable but ambitious. The idea is to lower emissions in 2030 by 40% when compared to 2005. It’s worth noting that Canada has a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

According to this plan, the country will invest over $9 billion to promote pollution-cutting effects. The strategy includes:

  • Improving electric vehicle infrastructure. People who want to purchase ZEVs (zero-emission vehicles) can hope for financial support.
  • Greening buildings and homes. The idea is to adopt revised building codes that are in line with the environmental goals.
  • Clean energy projects. These include investing in solar and wind power, electricity, and other projects.
  • Reduce gas and oil emissions. It seems to be the most ambitious part of the plan, especially since Canada keeps supporting the Trans Mounting pipeline and exporting LNG to Europe.

Some other details include empowering farmers to implement sustainable practices and communities to launch climate action projects.

What Can You Do to Help with Climate Change?

Collective action is important to restrict climate change, and some suggestions for individuals include the following:

  • Consider how you travel. Use public transport or walk when possible. If you are heading to far destinations, consider not taking frequent long-distance flights. For example, if you want to go to Vegas to enjoy casino games, consider playing online roulette while at home, which can provide immersive fun while reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Use LED lightbulbs and energy-efficient appliances. Many modern appliances come with an energy efficiency rating.
  • Eat veggies to reduce a carbon footprint. It takes less energy and greenhouse gas emissions to produce vegetables. Apart from lowering your carbon footprint, this is a healthy diet that could help you lose pounds and manage weight.
  • Focus on reusing and recycling items. Consider shopping for second-hand clothes and not purchasing anything you don’t absolutely need. Consider donating the items you don’t need anymore, and make sure to recycle those that you throw away properly.

A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy

The federal authorities adopted this long-term plan in 2020, and its goal is to secure a future with a healthier environment and economy. The main principles of this plan include the following:

  • Making energy-efficient structures more affordable. The idea is to make locations where Canadians live easier to purchase, maintain, and upgrade while ensuring houses and buildings energy-efficient.
  • Affordable and eco-friendly transportation. From clean electricity supply to ZEVs and other details, the idea is to reduce congestion while making communities healthier.
  • Carbon pollution pricing. The idea is for pollution to be pricey but ensure that the households get back more than they pay.
  • Achieving a clean industrial advantage. The country aims to focus on “Made in Canada” services and products with low carbon footprints.
  • Embrace the power of nature. Restoring and conserving natural spaces while planting billions of trees is another way to reduce pollution and fight climate change.

The government has released the final National Adaptation Strategy for comments. It’s the first strategy of this type that was designed by working with Indigenous People, municipal, territorial, and provincial authorities, as well as other relevant platforms. The idea is to design shared priorities and unite everyone across Canada to take joint action to decrease climate change risks.

Final Thoughts

Scientists are racing to find the most effective climate change solutions, with the potential options leaving them divided. However, they agree on one thing – it’s necessary to take strong action in the soonest possible timeframe.

Canada has already adopted a climate change action plan, and the only question is if it’s aggressive enough. It remains to be seen whether some changes to the strategy will be made in order to reach the long-term goals of dealing with the climate crisis.

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Debt in Canada: What’s normal for your age?



If you’re like most people, you have at least some debt. Your mortgage, car payment, credit card balance, and student loans are all liabilities that contribute to your total debt.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how much debt is normal for your age, though?

Below, I’ll outline the average and median debt by age in Canada, so you can see how your finances compare. Then I’ll explain some of the key reasons why Canadians’ debt is increasing.

Average debt by age group in Canada

First of all, it’s important to understand that debt is normal. Very few Canadians are 100% debt-free. Even those with near-perfect credit scores likely have an auto or student loan they’re paying down.


These are the debt metrics measured by Statistics Canada during census surveys.

Here’s the average debt by age group in Canada as of 2019, according to the latest data sets from Statistics Canada:

Note – this data applies to individuals who are not in an economic family. The numbers differ for economic families, which include married/common-law partners and families with dependent children.

The total debt measured includes:

  • Mortgage debt
  • Lines of credit
  • Credit card debt
  • Student loans
  • Vehicle loans
  • Other debt (doesn’t fit in the categories above)

Median debt by age group in Canada

Looking at average debt provides a decent overview of the data. However, the averages are very skewed by the debt incurred by Canada’s ultra-wealthy taxpayers.

When calculating the average, all values are added together and divided by the total number of values. This means that a few extreme values can greatly influence the result.

In contrast, the median is the middle value in a dataset when values are arranged in order. As such, it is less affected by outliers and provides a more accurate representation of typical values.

For example, a multi-millionaire with a $2-million mortgage will skew the average higher than the average Canadian.

For a more accurate look at Canadian debt, I find that the median data as of 2019 provides more accurate insight:

Why is consumer debt increasing in Canada?

Over the past year, consumer debt has notably increased. This is especially true for credit card debt. The average monthly spending per credit card increased by 17.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year, according to a recent report by Equifax Canada.

In the report Rebecca Oakes, vice-president of Advanced Analytics at Equifax Canada, stated that “Gen Z and Millennials are driving up higher consumer spending the most.”

Even though inflation is slowly easing, it’s still relatively high. The high inflation has driven up the cost of everyday goods, including groceries and fuel. This, in turn, means that Canadians are spending more per month than they were before 2022, when inflation started to rise.

Unfortunately, workers’ pay hasn’t grown with inflation. This means that the average Canadian simply has less money to spend, increasing their reliance on credit cards to purchase daily necessities.

  • Pent-up demand and travel

Oakes goes on to state that “Pent-up demand and increased travel with the easing of COVID restrictions, combined with soaring inflation, have led to some of the highest increases in credit card spending we’ve ever seen.”

It makes sense that Canadians would be eager to travel after several years of travel restrictions, even if it means incurring more credit card debt.

  • Increased interest rates

To keep inflation under control, the fed steadily increased interest rates throughout 2022 and is discussing more rate hikes this year. As the federal interest rate has increased, variable interest rates, such as those offered by credit card companies, have also increased.

Those who carry a credit balance over to the next month must now pay even more interest on their credit card debt, increasing their overall debt.

Creating a plan to manage your debt

Accruing debt in the short-term may be inevitable due to high-interest rates and inflation. However, it’s important to create a plan to get your debt under control.

A reliable budget plan paired with consistent action is the best way to get out of debt.

Revisit your monthly budget to find areas where you can save, try to pay down high-interest credit card debt as quickly as possible, and consider taking up a side hustle to earn extra money that you can put towards your debt.


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Six bodies, including one child, recovered from St. Lawrence River




The bodies of six people, including one child with a Canadian passport, were recovered from the St. Lawrence River late Thursday afternoon, according to Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Shawn Dulude.

The St. Lawrence River flowing east past Cornwall Island.
The St. Lawrence River flowing east past Cornwall Island. (CBC News)

The bodies of six people, including one child with a Canadian passport, were recovered from the St. Lawrence River late Thursday afternoon, according to Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Shawn Dulude.

Dulude said he could not provide any information on the nationalities of the other five deceased.


The Mohawk community of Akwesasne straddles the Canada-U.S. border and occupies territory in Ontario, Quebec and New York state.

The Akwesasne Mohawk Police, with the assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard, is leading the ongoing investigation, Dulude said.

The bodies were spotted in Canadian waters by a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter, he said.

The discovery of the bodies coincided with the search for a missing Akwesasne community member that also began Thursday, Dulude said.



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