‘Releases’

New Report on Canadians Abroad

report

A new report, entitled Canadians Abroad: A Policy and Legislative Agenda, has just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The report, by former Ambassador and long-time head of the Canadian consular service Gar Pardy, analyses fourteen major issues associated with the provision of consular assistance to Canadians traveling and residing abroad.

It includes a detailed set of recommendations to improve the assistance Canada provides to such travellers and the international legal environment for consular services.

Pardy says:

“More than five million Canadians are outside of Canada at any one time. The number is increasing, and as daily news reports show, they encounter various and frequent difficulties and dangers as they visit and reside abroad. Hundreds languish in foreign prisons on specious charges, while others need urgent medical attention or evacuation from the world’s trouble spots.”

The study charts the development over the past decade of an insidious doctrine, limiting the responsibility of the Government of Canada and forcing many affected Canadians to seek redress through the courts. Says Pardy:

“The historical Canadian approach of the universality of consular services for all Canadians was undermined. The result has been inequity, unfairness and inconsistency in the provision of these vital services.”

An issue of particular complexity is the increasing number of Canadians who have a second citizenship. “There are often serious impediments to Canada providing consular assistance for Canadians who are in their country of second citizenship”, says Pardy.

The Report recommends that the government seek international agreement on dual national issues and, in the meantime, develop practical measures to assist such Canadians.

Concludes Pardy:

“The new government has an opportunity early in its mandate to address consular services in a comprehensive and forward looking manner. This is the spirit in which this Report is offered.”

Read the full report here.

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Torture and Afghan Detainees: the need for a public inquiry

FILE- A prisoner leans against the entrance to the wing where political prisoners are kept at Sarposa prison in Kandhar city, in this 2009 file photo. Opposition threats to stall all parliamentary business seem to have helped break a log-jam in negotiations over access to sensitive Afghan detainee documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dene Moore

A new report, entitled Torture of Afghan Detainees: Canada’s Alleged Complicity and the Need for a Public Inquiryhas just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Written by Omar Sabry, a human rights researcher and advocate based in Ottawa, the study identifies the need for government accountability and non-impunity for alleged breaches of international and national law, in relation to the transfer of Afghan Detainees, despite substantial risks that they might be tortured.

In transferring hundreds to the custody of the NDS in Kandahar, Canada failed to prevent the torture of many Afghan detainees,” said Sabry.

The government occasionally suspended transfers for various reasons, including disturbing allegations of abuse, but then resumed transfers on at least six occasions. The government’s conduct in this regard was haphazard and unprincipled, in addition to being in violation of international law.”

The study recommends that the Government of Canada launch a transparent and impartial judicial Commission of Inquiry into the actions of Canadian officials, including Ministers of the Crown, relating to Afghan detainees. The Government should also develop clear policies that would prevent future reliance on diplomatic assurances against torture, including in situations involving armed conflict and extradition, and reaffirm Canada’s commitment to the prohibition of torture by immediately signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In commenting on the report, Peggy Mason, the President of Rideau Institute stated:

While there is no “new” information or “smoking gun” in this report, there is ample evidence of the Harper government’s systematic efforts  to keep parliament and the public in the dark. We believe this is unfinished business of the most serious kind – accountability for alleged serious breaches of international and national law – the only appropriate remedy for which is a public inquiry.

See also the article by Peter Mazereeuw, “Report calls for inquiry into Afghan detainee transfers”, (Embassy News, 23 September, 2015), “Report calls for full inquiry into Afghan detainee torture scandal”, (Amanda Connolly, iPolitics.ca, 23 September, 2015) and “Fresh calls for inquiry into allegations Canada was complicit in torture of Afghan prisoners” (Jake Bleiberg, Vice News.com, 23 September, 2015).

For the full PDF report, Click Here

For the media release:

English

French

For the Executive summary:

English (Longer version)

French (Original)

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New study identifies more than $10 billion in savings on military equipment

A new report, entitled Smart Defence: A plan for rebuilding Canada’s military, has just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The study, by University of British Columbia Professor Michael Byers, identifies more than $10 billion in potential savings in spending on military equipment.

At the same time, the study identifies ways to increase capabilities in Arctic and coastal surveillance, search and rescue, disaster and humanitarian relief, and peacekeeping.

“There are two big problems with defence procurement in Canada,” says Byers. “One is mismanagement, including new layers of bureaucracy introduced by the Harper government. The other is overreach, which occurs when officials grasp at the latest, unproven technologies – such as the F-35 Strike Fighter – which carry huge cost risks and uncertainties.”

The study recommends cancelling the planned purchase of 65 F-35 Strike Fighters and acquiring 30-40 new F/A-18 Super Hornets – the latest version of the CF-18 – to extend Canada’s current fighter jet capability for another two decades.

“Piloted fighter jets could soon be rendered obsolete by unmanned drones capable of air-to-air combat,” says Byers. “Instead of blowing the defence budget on a fleet of unproven, hyper-expensive F-35s that could soon become outdated, we should be looking for a lower-risk, lower-cost alternative.”

The study calls for “Smart Defence”: a more objective and reasoned approach to defence procurement that is based on Canada’s actual needs, proven off-the-shelf technologies, and the elimination of cost risks and uncertainties.

“A full public review of defence and national security policy is urgently needed. This report provides essential analysis for that effort as well as guidance on immediate steps that need to be taken, in the meantime”, said Rideau Institute president, Peggy Mason.

Read the full report here: Rebuilding Canada’s Military

Watch the full press conference here: “Smart Defence” Press Conference

See Amanda Connolly’s article for iPolitics on the report here: Rideau Institute report: Harper allowing military to ‘rust out’, (iPolitics, 29 June 2015).

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Former UN Ambassador for Disarmament to Head Rideau Institute

Media Release
For Immediate Release
June 26, 2014

 
Former UN Ambassador for Disarmament to Head Rideau Institute

 
(Ottawa) The Board of Directors is proud to announce that Ms. Peggy Mason, Canada’s former Ambassador for Disarmament to the United Nations, is the new President of the Rideau Institute on International Affairs. Peggy Mason was elected President at a Directors’ meeting on June 18.

 
She succeeds Steven Staples, who had served in that role since founding the research and advocacy organization in 2006. He continues to serve on the Board and will lead fundraising and outreach initiatives.

 
Peggy Mason is an expert on the UN, disarmament, conflict resolution and NATO. As Canada’s Ambassador for Disarmament, she worked with then External Affairs Minister Joe Clark, represented Canada at the UN disarmament forums in New York, and headed Canada’s delegation to disarmament treaty reviews in relation to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

A member of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament for six years, she has chaired UN expert studies on disarmament in Iraq and the regulation of small arms and light weapons.

Since 1996 Peggy Mason has increasingly focused on post-conflict peacebuilding and the role of military forces in supporting a comprehensive peace process. Ms. Mason works with several civil society organizations and initiatives, including civil society promotion of peace talks in Afghanistan.

 

A graduate and gold medallist of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Common Law, Peggy Mason was inducted into its Honour Society in September 2003.

 
The Rideau Institute is an independent research and advocacy group, based in Ottawa, which focuses on foreign policy and defence policy issues.

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For more information contact Kathleen Walsh, Operations Coordinator, at 613 565-9449 ext 21. 

Peggy Mason Biography 
Peggy Mason’s career highlights diplomatic and specialist expertise in the field of international peace and security, with a particular emphasis on the United Nations, where she served as Canada’s Ambassador for Disarmament from 1989 to 1995.  
Since 1996 Mason has been involved in many aspects of UN peacekeeping training, including the development of ground-breaking principles to guide the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former fighters, reform of UN arms embargoes, and the dramatic evolution of UN peacekeeping in the 21st century. 
As a regular trainer and exercise developer, she also brings the UN political/diplomatic perspective to a range of NATO and EU training exercises to help prepare military commanders for complex, multidisciplinary peace and crisis stabilization operations.   

In 2000-2001, Mason was a Special Advisor to then Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) on Small Arms and Light Weapons control, and chaired the UN Governmental Experts Group study on the international regulation of small arms and light weapons.  
From 2002 to 2012 Mason was a Senior Fellow at The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) at Carleton University, where she lectured, participated in training for Iraqi and Kuwaiti diplomats, and chaired the Advisory Board of the Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance (CCTC). Since 2004 she has been Chair of the Board of Directors of Peacebuild, a network of Canadian NGOs engaged in all aspects of peacebuilding.  
A graduate and gold medallist of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Common Law, Peggy Mason was inducted into its Honour Society in September 2003.  
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Media Release – Cost of F-35 fleet could reach $126 billion, report finds

Media Release
For Immediate Release
April 29, 2014

 
Cost of F-35 fleet could reach $126 billion, report finds

 
OTTAWA – A report on the cost of F-35s has just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

 
“The Plane That Ate the Canadian Military” was written by University of British Columbia political science professor Michael Byers.

 
The cost of F-35s first became an issue in July 2010 when the Harper government announced it would purchase 65 of the aircraft for $9 billion, with $7 billion in maintenance cost bringing the total cost to $16 billion. After highly critical reports from the Parliamentary Budget Office in 2011 and the Auditor General in 2012, the Harper government now anticipates a total project cost of $45.69 billion.

In his new report, Professor Byers explains that even that $45.69 billion figure is low, because it is based on the operating cost of CF-18s rather than the actual operating cost of F-35s.

Nor does the $45.69 billion include a number of other actual costs associated with F-35s, such as adding drag chutes to the aircraft and modifying Canada’s mid-air refuelling fleet.

 

Once the actual operating cost of F-35s and these other actual costs are taken into account, the total project cost rises to $56.674 billion – which is $11 billion higher than the cost presently acknowledged by the Harper government.

 
In the second part of his report, Professor Byers explains that the Harper government has also ignored the considerable “cost risks and uncertainty” associated with a fleet of F-35s – risks that are amplified by the developmental character and the unusually high operating and sustainment costs of these aircraft.

Once all the actual costs and “cost risks and uncertainty” are taken into account, a fleet of F-35s could cost $126 billion – which is $81 billion higher than the cost presently acknowledged by the Harper government.

As Professor Byers says: “An additional $81 billion in unplanned cost could destroy the Canadian military, which would be forced to carry most of that cost through reduced expenditures on other equipment, maintenance, infrastructure, salaries and training.”

Even small changes to the exchange rate, interest rate, or price of aviation fuel could result in tens of billions of dollars in unplanned costs.

“A careful analysis of life-cycle cost raises serious questions about the wisdom and financial feasibility of an F-35 procurement, as well as the Harper government’s lack of attention to substantial financial risks.”

 
 

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The Plane That Ate the Canadian Military is available on the Rideau Institute website.  
 

For more information contact:

 
Professor Michael Byers, University of British Columbia
c. 1-250-526-3001 e. michael.byers@ubc.ca (Note: Dr. Byers is in Ottawa this morning – April 29 – and in Toronto this afternoon.)

 
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