Friday, February 25, 2011

F-35 saga continues: the numbers?

The Canadian government’s untendered procurement of the F–35 Joint Strike Fighter has once again become newsworthy, this time from an unexpected source. Serious concerns about the aircraft’s limited range and operational capabilities in relation to the Canada First strategic policy have already been raised yet, inexplicably, remain unresolved by the government. The F-35 refueling system is not compatible with the current Canadian Air-to-Air refueling capabilities, for example.

Why is this capability strategically important?

Primarily because the aircraft’s limited strategic range and the present location of Canada’s tactical air force bases (Cold Lake, Alberta, Bagotville, PQ,). Canada’s arctic frontier is vast, the potential ranges to interception are significant, inclusive of a flight over exceedingly inhospitable terrain. Without a refueling capability, the F-35’s limited range presents serious territorial inadequacies and restricts Canada’s ability to present an effective armed deterrence to any territorial infractions.

Solutions? Incur the extraordinary expense of building supportive air base/s? Provide the refueling capability to Canada’s fleet of air tankers? Change the system inherent with the ordered model to conform to Canada’s current standards?

Air bases are prohibitively expensive, particularly when one considers the advanced technology of the aircraft and the necessities of providing an suitable runway and a comprehensive maintenance/operational capability during the extremities of the winter climate. The second option would be potentially restrictive in a tactical sense as once the refueling system is changed, the designated refueling aircraft would serve only serve one aircraft and not the variety of platforms used by our allies during international/NATO operations.

The third option is clearly the most preferable. Sadly, when this issue was addressed in the House of Parliament, the query was used to launch a unsavoury political attack about the parliamentarian’s loyalty to Canada’s Forces. MP Garneau served with the Canadians Forces with distinction, passing the rigorous selection criteria for Canada’s fledgling manned space program to become Canada’s first astronaut and in October, 1984, the first Canadian to soar to space.

Canada’s defence minister accused of Garneau  of  “working against those men and women he used to serve with”. 

Canadians are still waiting for an answer to Garneau’s question.

Kevin Page added further discord on government untendered F-35 program on the 28th of February when he publicly challenged government fiscal estimates not only on the defense program, but the controversial Crime Bills and Corporate Tax cuts. These are important issues; surely Canadians deserve to know the true cost of the programs the government intends to implement, particularly now that they have become election issues. 

How can parliamentary democracy, a democracy thousands of Canadians created/supported through blood, toil, courage and sacrifice, be served when those to whom we have entrusted to govern fail to provide accurate information on so important issues?

How can the parliament choose the best aircraft for Canada’s sons and daughters under such circumstances?

Michael L Blais CD
Founder/President Canadian Veterans Advocacy.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

CVA Situation report 6 Feb, 2011


Canadian Veterans Advocacy Situation Report, February 6, 2011
CVA-VAC Introductory Meeting, 3 Feb, 2011. Be advised that this introductory high-level meeting between Veterans Affairs Canada and the Advocacy was arranged by VAC and at my request, was conducted at VAC district offices in Hamilton, Ontario with the inclusion of a training/discussion conference for the Advocacy's Service Directorate. Myself, John D Clark, Advocacy CEO and Senior Service Advocate, Veterans Advocates Tom Metcalf, Kathy Warner and Harry Preenen traveled to Hamilton, Ontario  from Niagara Falls on behalf of the CVA. Bernard Butler, A/Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs, Policy and Partnerships and Katherine Morrow, Divisional Coordinator and Manager, Second-Level Appeals, traveled from VAC headquarters in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Leona Ross – Alexander, Ontario Region, Regional Pension Coordinator participated via  teleconference and George Lariviere, Area Director, Ontario Region and Stella Schepis, Area Director, Ontario Region, represented VAC.

Concurrent meetings were held between 1030-1230. At the executive level, discussions were held about the origins/purposes of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy, our objectives and the various areas of concern we have untied to redress. The discussions were forthright, frank, non-adversarial/confrontational and to my great satisfaction, based on a level of mutual respect. The primary discussion pertained to the benefit of doubt protocols and their application to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board yet we also discussed a wide variety of other issues the CVA has previously brought forward on behalf of veterans. Two issue were resolved, the first, the travel claim reimbursement issues in reference to long distance/high expense and Bruxism (grinding), a potentially serious dental disorder and is often a side effect of OSI/PTSD. ... I will have more on these issues once Mrs Morrow sends me the formal references this week but I can say, at this moment, I am quite satisfied with the level of positive cooperation demonstrated by VAC representatives during this process and am confidant we have established the foundation of a working relationship that will serve veterans and the CVA objectives well.

The meeting at the Advocacy Service Officer level was also very productive. John Clark and his team were well prepared and the meeting somewhat surpassed the mandate of an information seminar. I was quite pleased to note that the case example used in relationship to hearing loss was subsequently addressed through personal contact (telephone) with the veteran within hours of the meeting’s adjournment and hope, where there was little hope, has been restored! I would also note that one of our service officer’s issues was addressed after the meetings concluded by the local rep. On this level, I would rate our first meeting an unqualified success as it relates to the Canadians Veterans Advocacy’s primary duty – Improving the Quality of Life, FOR LIFE, for our Veterans!

Summary?  A successful introductory meeting. CVA-VAC Lines of communication have been established at a Service Officer/Executive level and constructive dialogue engaged. Let us hope that this is a fortuitous sign for the future.

National Veterans Rendezvous 2011 – Niagara. JULY 8-9-10! Organization of the veterans rendezvous is proceeding on schedule and the events already posted aren't being confirmed. There has been some interest from outside groups providing opportunities that I had not considered so so there may be family friendly changes for the better in the sense of the itinerary . I am determined to present a wonderful weekend for the troops, veterans and your families by providing a variety of events or attractions for you to enjoy throughout the weekend. I would also offer special thanks special thanks to MPP Kim Craitor and Ron P for pointing me in the right direction, Wayne Thompson for responding so quickly, Victor, Tony and Sarah for demonstrating such a positive, can-do attitude during our discussions. Special thanks to Laurie C for being positive on the Niagara Parks Commission level.

The CVA Pennies for Veterans Campaign. We have began to reach out across the nation with the intent of uprising all Canadians of the manner in which we can all assess homeless Canadian veterans. The pennies for veterans campaign has already commenced in some communities and will continue until the July 9 weekend when the CVA is encouraging local communities to honor their troops sacrifice and celebrate the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan. The object is to raise sufficient funds through this penny drive to build/purchase a mission specific veterans homeless facility in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Montréal, Québec. The CVA is looking for partners in this wonderful program, if interested, please contact to discuss how we can work together to attain success!  

Canadian Veterans National Support the Troops Rally. Far to often in this nation, we do not offer the proper compliments to our troops when they have served overseas. The men who fought valiantly, at Kapyong, Chai Li, Hills 355, Kowang San and Hill 187, for example, received no accolades from a grateful nation when they returned from Korea. Lets not stand by and let this happen again. The combat mission is ending in July of next year, lets take advantage of this extraordinary time to step up and organize something in your town. Approach your legion, lions club, whatever social organization you belong to, Appro9ach you councils, God willing, they will answer the patriot's call as has my community in Niagara Falls and together, you can make an important distance in the lives of those who serve today and through a penny drive, offer 1sanctuary to those veterans who have lost hope and a chance for a new beginning, a new life! Many of Canada Sons and Daughters will be home on leave during the month of July. What better time to welcome the valiant to your communities, to introduce them to your citizenship, to identify and provide local assistance to those who may have suffered the consequences of the Afghanistan war, to rally your community to raise pennies for this most noble project!

I hope you will answer the patriots call, that you will accept your duty to this nation by standing up on the home front for those who serve in war today. Let us unite together to show our sons and daughters how proud we are of them. Let us unite together to insure that those who serve have not been forgotten by the communities they laughed when they join the Canadian forces. Most importantly, let us unite to ensure those who have been terribly wounded, who are disabled, who are blinded or suffering from a variety of psychological issues due to their service in war, are provided the assistance at a community level that they deserve.

God bless our troops, god bless our veterans, God bless our magnificent nation.

 Michael L Blais CD
 Founder, Canadian Veterans Advocacy
 6618 Harper Drive, Niagara Falls, Ont, Cda.
 L2E 7K6 // 905-357-3306

OTLA- Are you a veterans requiring legal assistance? The Ontario Trial lawyers Association has heard the patriots call and is offering FREE legal assistance to those who feel they require. GO to the website then click on Trial Lawyers for Vets.

Canadian Veterans Advocacy new message board. I have used this service before, there is NO SPAM so feel free to register.

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