Canadian soldiers suffer frostbite during winter training

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About 20 Canadian Armed Forces members suffered frostbite, and some required hospitalization, following a military training session near Petawawa, Ont., held earlier this month in extremely cold weather. 

On Jan. 17-18, nearly 120 soldiers with the Royal Canadian Dragoons participated in basic winter survival training while the temperature dropped to –31 C. 

The soldiers, part of the immediate response unit (IRU) vanguard, left in the morning on a 12-kilometre march and returned the next day after spending the night outside.        

Approximately 20 soldiers reported frostbite or minor hypothermia, and « a very small number » had to be hospitalized for more serious cold-related injuries, said public affairs officer Capt. Daniel Mazurek.

Mazurek said medical staff and ambulances were present during the training to provide care. The frostbite cases were treated immediately, he said, and soldiers with more pressing injures were taken to hospital. 

No amputations were necessary, Mazurek said, and all the soldiers sent to hospital have now returned home or are back at work.

Maj. Kevin Wong said he was given notice the winter survival training would be taking place only a few hours before it got underway. (Radio-Canada)

‘We must accept some risks’

Maj. Kevin Wong was one of the soldiers taking part in the training. He said it was a « no-notice exercise, » meaning they were only told it was taking place only a few hours beforehand.

« We do this more than once a year. » Wong told Radio-Canada.

« We train for the worst-case scenario [in] the harshest conditions, whether it’s cold or hot, whether it’s on land or near water. We have to be ready to respond to the needs of Canadians. »

Mazurek said that IRU soldiers are required to tackle emergencies like floods or ice storms « on a moment’s notice, » and therefore exercises in such extreme conditions, while difficult, are also necessary.

« Our job is to protect Canadians, regardless of the environment or situation, » he said. « To prepare for this incredible responsibility we must accept some risks. »

Some of the equipment that Canadian Armed Forces soldiers brought with them during the winter survival training exercise, which took place while the temperature dropped to –31 C. (Jeff Smith)

‘Serious lack of leadership’ 

Retired colonel Michel Drapeau, however, said he believes the soldiers were exposed to significant risk.

« It is a serious lack of leadership, and we should not put our young people at risk in this way, » he said. 

Nevertheless, Drapeau agreed that Canadian troops must be ready to operate and survive in Arctic climates, hence the importance of training in harsh conditions.

« Canadian soldiers are trained for this kind of exercise — and are much better equipped than the general population — but sometimes commanders want to push their troops, » Drapeau said.

« There is a fine line between pushing their soldiers … and abusing their power as commanders. »

Retired colonel Michel Drapeau said the soldiers who took part in the winter training exercise near Petawawa, Ont., were exposed to significant risk of frostbite. (Radio-Canada )

Richard Blanchette, a retired major-general and the chair of the Royal Canadian Legion’s defence and security committee, said that the injuries sustained by the soldiers during the training were not « normal. »

Blanchette said those types of injuries can occur when training conditions are extremely difficult — but also if the equipment wasn’t suitable for the situation. 

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Army reserve soldiers take part in military exercises in Lethbridge – Lethbridge

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Army reserve soldiers from the 20th Independent Field Battery of the Royal Canadian Artillery conducted military training exercises in Lethbridge on Sunday.

“We need to train these troops how to operate with a real enemy force so that they have an understanding of how they need to react when it’s not just a training,” said Maj. Nick Barber, commanding officer of the 20th Independent Field Battery.


READ MORE:
Canadian Armed Forces warns central Alberta residents ahead of military training drills

“This type of a scenario is not uncommon. When we deployed to Afghanistan, a lot of our deployment had to be in urban situations, at least moving through cities, so understanding how to operate and hide these big vehicles and these guns in an area (where) you don’t have trees or that cover is very important,” Barber added.

As real and intense as these exercises are, a majority of the reservists involved also work or study full-time. Lt. Ansil Norman is putting his books down and picking up his rifle to take part in these exercises.

“It’s certainly a challenge, personally,” he said. “I stayed up all night and the other night running around all weekend. I’m going to go home and immediately dive into my biology textbooks for some tests this week so it’s definitely very challenging to do but also very rewarding.”


READ MORE:
Thousands of Canadian Armed Forces members take part in massive training exercise

Still, despite his busy schedule, the challenge of being both a soldier and a student is one Norman is more than willing to take on.

“It’s my way of giving back to Canada for all the quality of life and luxuries that I have, and I’m happy to do it,” he added.

Military exercises like these happen several times a year, allowing soldiers to maintain the proper training for possible deployment.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘I’ve cried many times’: WW II ‘miracle’ baby saved by Canadian soldiers makes long-lost connections

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Mary Crabb was sitting at her living room table in suburban Hertfordshire, England, staring into a laptop.

« Hello, » she exclaimed with a smile and a hint of nerves as she greeted the man who was staring back at her.

« Hello, how are you? » the man replied from 5,000 kilometres away.

And so began a conversation 77 years in the making, the culmination an emotional roller-coaster for Crabb that took off again in recent weeks.

« I’ve cried many times, » Crabb told Harry Curtis, the son of a Canadian soldier who helped save her life within hours of her birth in 1941.

« If you’re like me right now, you’ve had lots of thoughts running through your head, » Curtis told her from his home in Stittsville in southwest Ottawa.

Crabb has known for much of her life that she was adopted as a baby. It was only after her adoptive parents died, however, that her family dug into her past.

Crabb was adopted at the age of five months in 1942. (Submitted by Mary Crabb)

The family’s research revealed that on Sept. 23, 1941, Crabb’s birth mother had abandoned her as a newborn. The baby was left hidden in blackberry bushes in Horsell Common, a 355-hectare park on the outskirts of London. She was blue and clinging to life.

Then three Canadian soldiers came along and saved the day.

« I owe my life to them, » Crabb, 77, told CBC News.

The soldiers’ story

Stationed in England during the Second World War, the three Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA) members happened to be nearby at the time. Their regiment was out on manoeuvres, part of preparations in the event of a German invasion.

The men heard a noise from the bushes and went to investigate, according to media reports at the time.

They « thought it was a chicken, » Crabb said.

To their surprise, the soldiers found the baby, cut the remaining umbilical cord with a knife and wrapped the girl in a white shirt.

Crabb’s nephew Graeme Elliott recently discovered this photo of three Canadian soldiers, including Sgt. Ernie Curtis, centre, with his aunt after they found her abandoned as a baby in 1941. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

An entry in the 8th Army Field Regiment’s war diary from that day says Q Battery « during their scheme found a newborn baby in the gun area. »

On Dec. 31, 2018, Crabb’s nephew told her he had found a new clue about her past — a photograph showing her as a baby in a British hospital, surrounded by the three Canadian soldiers she never got to thank.

« Tears were running down my face to think that was me, » she said.

Searching for relatives

Crabb’s nephew, Graeme Elliot, took to social media, posting the picture — first published in London’s Daily Mirror in 1941 — in search of family members of the Canadian soldiers.

It wasn’t long before Harry Curtis was shown the post and both families started organizing a reunion of sorts.

« My wife saw the picture on Facebook and said ‘Oh my God, I recognize that picture … there’s your dad, » Curtis said.

His late father, Sgt. Ernie Curtis, is seen in the middle of the photo wearing his RCA uniform.

Harry Curtis had kept the same photo in a book at his home. His father « just said that he and two of his buddies had found a baby in a field or a meadow, » Harry Curtis recalled hearing as a child. « He just wished that she was well. »

Harry Curtis, son of Sgt. Ernie Curtis, lives in Stittsville, Ont. (Harry Curtis/Facebook)

This week, the long-lost connection was rekindled when Harry Curtis reached Crabb using FaceTime on a laptop supplied by CBC News.

Both fought back tears.

« It’s a miracle, really, isn’t it? » Crabb said.

They chatted about their respective families. Crabb has one grandchild, Curtis has six. They promised to keep in touch.

Curtis even plans to send Crabb the epaulettes from his father’s RCA uniform.

« I had Dad, » Curtis told CBC News. « She never had a physical connection to him, so this will give her one. »

‘Daughter of the regiment’

The extraordinary encounter made headlines in both Britain and Canada in 1941.

The Daily Mirror reported the soldiers intended to adopt the baby as a « daughter of the regiment, » naming her Virginia Regina Brandon after their hometowns.

« The child was rushed to an army truck » and then taken to hospital, according to a piece in Regina’s Leader-Post on Nov. 5, 1941.

Within months, the girl was adopted by an English couple and given the name Mary. She grew up in Hertfordshire, 65 kilometres from where she had been dumped as a newborn.

The soldiers found the baby on Sept. 23, 1941, in Horsell Common, a large open space southwest of London. (Rob Lowrey/CBC)

Crabb only learned much later in life that her birth mother had pleaded guilty to abandonment and was reportedly sentenced to two months’ probation.

At the time, the Mirror identified the three soldiers as Gunner Brackett, Sgt. Curtis and Gunner Griffin.

Susan Griffin, who lives in Massachusetts, told CBC News her father, Bob Griffin, is the man on the left of the 1941 photo.

Crabb acknowledges she’s still learning about the first days of her life, all these years later.

« There’s a load I don’t know. »

CBC News has not been able to formally name the third soldier, identified in various media reports as A.J. Brackett or E.J. Brackett. Anyone with information can email thomas.daigle@cbc.ca.

With files from Stephanie Jenzer

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Hank Wong is the last surviving member of an elite group of Chinese-Canadian soldiers who, according to the government, never existed

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Sandi Wong was driving her father — a refined gentleman already in his 90s — through the Ontario countryside near London a few years back when he eyed a line of hydro towers.

Surveying the metal forest, the retired auditor blurted: “I know how to take those out.”

Henry (Hank) Wong, 99, is the last surviving member of Operation Oblivion, an elite espionage team of Chinese-Canadians who were trained to parachute into Japanese-occupied China during the Second World War.
Henry (Hank) Wong, 99, is the last surviving member of Operation Oblivion, an elite espionage team of Chinese-Canadians who were trained to parachute into Japanese-occupied China during the Second World War.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star)

Hank Wong then went into detail about where best to place the dynamite and how it was possible to disable an entire power grid with one strategic detonation.

“Ah,” thought his daughter after recovering her breath. “I guess that’s what you were trained to do during the war.”

Silent assassination? Wong learned that too. Blowing up trains, jumping out of moving trucks, parachuting, he was proficient in all that. But his specialty, one that earned him the nickname The Trigger was small arms. Beretta, Luger, Japanese Nambu, name the pistol and he could efficiently dispatch an enemy soldier with any of them.

Wong, who will turn 100 next year, is the last surviving member of Operation Oblivion, a covert military mission devised by the British secret service for 13 Chinese-Canadian volunteers during the Second World War.

A photograph of Operation Oblivion team taken in 1944.
A photograph of Operation Oblivion team taken in 1944.  (Family Handout)

Essentially, the plan — one that sounds like a Hollywood action movie — was for that hand-picked crew of 13 to be trained in guerrilla warfare and then dropped behind enemy lines into Japanese-occupied China.

Once in place, those soldiers were to connect with the Chinese resistance and subvert the Japanese by any means, including destroying communication towers, bridges and railway lines. It was considered a suicide mission. The men were issued cyanide capsules to be swallowed in the unlikely event they were taken alive.

Wong didn’t see the need for cyanide.

“If they captured you, you were dead anyhow,” says Wong, who moved from London into the Veterans Centre of Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre this year.

Second World War veteran Hank Wong, 99, poses at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto in November. Hong joined the army in 1940 after being rejected by the navy because of his race.
Second World War veteran Hank Wong, 99, poses at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto in November. Hong joined the army in 1940 after being rejected by the navy because of his race.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star)

An Omni Television documentary, Operation Oblivion, outlining the planned espionage and its historical significance, was released five years ago and it introduced many Canadians to the little-known 1944-45 spy story. The men were sworn to secrecy for 25 years but even after that only partial details emerged. Hence, Sandi Wong’s jolt of surprise when her father detailed his efficiency with explosives. And it was only when she and her dad sat down together to speak with the Star recently that she learned her father had done wartime surveillance with a mini camera.

“We were divorced from the Canadian army; it was all completely secret,” says Wong, who uses a walker, one of his few concessions to age.

“When I was recruited, even I didn’t know what it was for. They don’t tell you anything. You don’t have a name, you have a number.”

Before the war, Canada, particularly in British Columbia, was largely inhospitable to those of Chinese heritage. They weren’t recognized as citizens and they weren’t allowed to vote. The Chinese Immigration Act, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, along with a punitive head tax stemmed the flow of arrivals from China. Culturally too, those of Chinese heritage were barred from some jobs and public amenities such as swimming pools.

Some Chinese men in Canada believed serving in the war would earn them respect and eventually lead them to have full rights as citizens. The majority of the men volunteering for Operation Oblivion were from B.C.

Another of the Oblivion members was Victoria-born Douglas Jung, who went from having no legal status to becoming the first Chinese-Canadian elected as a member of Parliament. He was later Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations.

In an interview available on the Veterans Affairs Canada website, Jung — who died in 2002 — spoke to why Chinese-Canadians signed on to serve despite the lack of respect from their birth country.

“Some of us realized that unless we volunteered to serve Canada during this hour of need, we would be in a very difficult position after the war ended to demand our rights as Canadian citizens because the Canadian government would say to us, ‘What did you do during the war when everybody else was out fighting for Canada? What did you do?’ So a few of us volunteered to serve,” he said.

Someone like Wong, who was born in London, and spoke none of the Chinese languages, was not considered a Canadian national. When he and four buddies, all white, tried to join the navy in 1940, his friends were accepted but Wong was rejected because of his race. He then went downstairs to volunteer for the army and was offered a job as a steward in the officers mess.

Persistent, Wong travelled to Chatham and joined the Kent Regiment, only after the commanding officer there learned he’d studied auto mechanics in high school. Initially, he became that man’s personal driver. Relieved of that duty for speeding, he was trained as a weapon’s specialist and deployed with his unit at various locations on the B.C. coast, and in Halifax and Niagara Falls. When his sister’s husband died in 1944, Wong was granted compassionate leave to help her run her restaurant in Palmerston, Ont.

That’s where a rather straightforward soldier’s life took a dramatic twist. One day at the diner a mysterious stranger with a British accent ordered fish and chips and then lingered at his table waiting for the other customers to leave. Finally, he identified himself as representing British intelligence and he asked Wong if he was interested in returning to active duty. Wong was told to report to Wolseley Barracks (now part of CFB London). From there he was flown to the west coast where, after a week of waiting and still with no idea why he was there, he was ordered to the Vancouver Hotel for an interview.

Even though recruiters were surprised Wong spoke only English — he’d been raised mostly in a London orphanage — he was taken on to the special force because of his expertise as a weapons instructor.

Wong and the 12 other Asian men recruited by British Special Operations Executive were all anointed as sergeants — a rank, Wong says, “didn’t mean a damn thing” and wouldn’t draw attention — and began an odyssey that would first see them train clandestinely for five months on the shores of Okanagan Lake near Penticton, B.C. There, they lived in tents, practised rolling out of moving vehicles, learned hand-to-hand combat and did gun manoeuvres with live ammo.

In Wong’s case, he was also taught to speak Cantonese; some of the men learned how to swim. They were all then shipped to Melbourne, Australia, on a circuitous route that included a lengthy stop in New Guinea. Once down under, there was more intense commando instruction. Wong earned his paratrooper’s wings in Australia.

It was there, in 1945, where the operation was suddenly scrapped. American general Albert C. Wedemeyer had been given control of the Allied efforts in China. In the documentary, it is speculated that he had no interest in sharing glory for liberating the area.

After Wong's operation was suddenly scrapped in 1945, Wong and the other members of his team were abandoned in Australia. They had to make their way home on a freighter.
After Wong’s operation was suddenly scrapped in 1945, Wong and the other members of his team were abandoned in Australia. They had to make their way home on a freighter.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star)

While Wong and his small detachment awaited other deployment — five of the men did see action in Borneo — the Americans bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki leading to the surrender of the Japanese. That left Wong’s crew in limbo. Because they were not officially Canadian soldiers — and weren’t expected to return alive — no plan was in place to get them home. They were abandoned in Australia.

“We just sat there,” Wong says. “Nobody owned us and we couldn’t get home. We had to work our way home on a freighter.”

When those men did get home, they faced another battle as Chinese-Canadians were still fighting for citizenship. The Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1947 and they were given full rights.

Jung, in that online interview, said he believes that wartime sacrifice helped pave the way for this to happen. Several hundred Chinese-Canadians ultimately served.

“We’re very proud of that record and all this was done, bearing in mind, at a time when we did not have to serve Canada, but we thought in our guts that unless we did something like that, we could (not) show to the Canadian people, and to the Canadian government, that we were willing to work for everything that we wanted, which was no more than the rights of Canadian privileges, the rights that every other Canadian enjoys,” he said.

In 2006, then prime minister Stephen Harper apologized for the “the racist actions of our past” in regards to the head tax on Chinese-Canadian immigrants.

Because Operation Oblivion was a clandestine British initiative, it isn’t in the Canadian military records that Wong or the others participated in it. Sandi Wong says her dad didn’t receive some of the medals or recognition other Chinese-Canadians who served were awarded. She said she is going to try to rectify that through Veterans Affairs Canada this year.

After the war, Wong worked for General Steel Wares in London, as a heating and cooling lab technician. He then became an auditor for the steelworkers union.

After the war, Wong worked as a heating and cooling lab technician and later became an auditor for the steelworkers union.
After the war, Wong worked as a heating and cooling lab technician and later became an auditor for the steelworkers union.  (Family Handout)

Wong, in his understated way, now says doing all that training for a mission and then not seeing action is just how it goes in the service.

“In the army, you do what you’re told. You take what you get,” he says matter-of-factly. “We were all ready to go. Then it was no go. As soon as they dropped the atomic bomb, they didn’t want anything to do with us.”

Paul Hunter is a reporter and feature writer based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @hunterhockey

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First World War soldiers and nurses are a ghostly presence in Trinity College windows

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The men and women in the windows at Trinity College have a ghostly presence, rendered in the black and silvery white of a glass-plate negative, like an X-ray.

They were students of another time and place, united by death and service in the First World War. Their Trinity College was located in what is now Trinity Bellwoods park, and had federated with the University of Toronto in 1904. Students didn’t move into the current location until 1925.

Adhesive reproductions of old photo negatives are attached to the windows overlooking a courtyard at U of T’s Trinity College. The college’s archives hold 210 glass-plate negatives of portraits from The War Memorial Volume of Trinity College, about 543 students and alumni who had served in the First World War. This picture shows William George Henry Bates.
Adhesive reproductions of old photo negatives are attached to the windows overlooking a courtyard at U of T’s Trinity College. The college’s archives hold 210 glass-plate negatives of portraits from The War Memorial Volume of Trinity College, about 543 students and alumni who had served in the First World War. This picture shows William George Henry Bates.  (Richard Lautens / Toronto Star)

In 1922, two Trinity professors wrote a book about the 543 students and alumni who had served in the conflict. They wrote to the survivors, and families of the dead, asking for photos. The War Memorial Volume of Trinity College was a “labour of love,” Trinity archivist Sylvia Lassam says.

The professors made copies of each photo and kept the glass-plate negatives. About a year ago, Lassam came across the photos in boxes marked “heavy.”

To honour the centenary of the Armistice, Lassam had 27 of the photos — each one slightly bigger than a smartphone — developed, keeping the negative exposure. They were printed on clear backing, and Lassam and Sarah Kidd, the communications co-ordinator at the college, stuck them on the paned-glass windows that look to the quad. The details of their faces only sharpen when you look at them a certain way.

“He looks so young,” Lassam says as she gazes at Henry Thomson, killed at Passchendaele at 23. “Like a kid brother.”

Jeffrey Filder Smith enlisted at age 31, seeking to become an officer.
Jeffrey Filder Smith enlisted at age 31, seeking to become an officer.  (Richard Lautens)

Jeffrey Filder Smith grew up in Rosedale. He went to Upper Canada College and later studied in the Faculty of Arts, 1903-05. While the Globe said he worked at a rubber manufacturer’s head office before the war, he listed his occupation as “gentleman” when he signed up in 1916. He was 31, and took an officer’s course in England before he arrived in France.

He was hurt at Vimy Ridge but Lt. Smith was back in action 10 days later. He went missing at the end of June 1917. His battalion, the 13th, Royal Highlanders of Canada, had dug a fake trench and set up “dummy” soldiers which they controlled with string. At the appointed hour, the battalion history notes, they began moving the fake soldiers to trick the Germans into thinking an attack was imminent. The Germans shelled the area — but the battalion noticed the Germans were shelling their own line, too. The Canadians sent out a patrol that night to see if the Germans had abandoned the area. Lt. Smith and eight other men went over the top, through the barbed wire. It was a trap. The Germans threw a bomb at them and opened fire with a machine gun. Smith yelled at his men to retreat. He and another man stayed for covering fire.

They all made it back to the trench, but Smith and one other man did not. When another group came out closer to daybreak to find them, the other man was crawling back with a shattered leg. He said Smith had been hit by a bomb, but nobody could find him. According to the War Memorial Volume of Trinity College, he was taken prisoner and “died of wounds in German hands,” on June 29, 1917.

Leonora Gregory Allen had a rough passage over the Atlantic ? the passenger steamship she was on was torpedoed.
Leonora Gregory Allen had a rough passage over the Atlantic ? the passenger steamship she was on was torpedoed.  (Richard Lautens)

Leonora Gregory Allen studied at Trinity in 1906-07, and graduated from a nursing program in New York in 1910. She enlisted as a nursing sister in 1917. On the way to Europe, her passenger steamship turned military transport was torpedoed south of Ireland. The 29-year-old was picked up by a minesweeper, according to the Trinity war memorial book.

She made it to France in late 1917, but her hospital in St. Omer was bombed and shelled in the German spring advance of 1918, so she was moved to a new hospital at Étaples along France’s northern coast. “Everything bad that could happen to her happened to her,” Lassam says. Allen nursed at Allied hospitals in France and England after the Armistice and was back in Canada in the summer of 1919, where she became a supervisor and instructor at a hospital in Victoria. She married, and died in B.C. in 1957.

Reginald Prinsep Wilkins died during the Canadian advance in the last 100 days of the war.
Reginald Prinsep Wilkins died during the Canadian advance in the last 100 days of the war.  (Richard Lautens)

Reginald Prinsep Wilkins was a Trinity grad planning a law career. He couldn’t wait to get overseas, and signed up in 1915 with his good friend and Trinity alum Gordon Matheson. “Together they had hoped and waited for their chance to enter the battle and, officers of the same battalion, albeit in different companies, they almost fell together,” the college newspaper wrote.

As a student, Wilkins was in the glee club and never missed a Sunday morning choir appearance. He was editor-in-chief of the Trinity College Review. In France, he was a lieutenant with the 44th Batallion. His friend Matheson died in August 1918. In late September, Wilkins wrote to his father. The Canadians were advancing quickly through France, and were about to cross the Canal du Nord. “I feel that everything will turn out O.K., if the Almighty wills it,” he wrote.

According to the battalion war diary, early on Sept. 27, the men crossed the canal. Those leading the charge were pressed forward because of the eagerness of the entire crew, and many, including Wilkins, were killed or wounded as the Germans opened fire. The war diary notes the 26-year-old showed “magnificent leadership and self-sacrifice.” He was “believed to be buried” at the nearby Quarry Wood cemetery.

Richard Arthur Mitchell got in trouble for disobeying an order.
Richard Arthur Mitchell got in trouble for disobeying an order.  (Richard Lautens)

Richard Arthur Mitchell was studying in the Faculty of Arts, planning a future in ministry, when he enlisted in November 1914. The 20-year-old served with Canadian Army Medical Corps, and was plagued by rheumatism, stomach trouble and influenza, according to his service record.

In 1915 he wrote his will in an army recreation hut in England. He left his “regular army knife” to a friend in Toronto, $700 to his mother, and $300 to his uncle. According to his record, he was given three days’ field punishment for neglecting to obey a lawful command before Christmas 1915. That form of discipline often meant a soldier was tied to a fixed object for two hours a day in a crucifixion pose.

In 1916, Mitchell served with a machine-gun brigade on “water detail.” The military record keepers lost track of him that November, and when inquiries were made, the answer was a grim one. He had been killed in the Somme that September. According to the University of Toronto Honour Roll, Mitchell had gone to help two men who had been wounded in Courcelette, only to find they were already dead. As he hurried back to the trenches, a sniper shot him in. He is believed to be buried in nearby Adanac Military cemetery. The cemetery’s name is a reverse of Canada — it was created after the Armistice, when nearby Canadian graves were centralized in one location.

Adhesive reproductions of old photo negatives are attached to the windows overlooking a courtyard at U of T's Trinity College. The college's archives hold 210 glass-plate negatives of portraits from The War Memorial Volume of Trinity College, about 543 students and alumni who had served in the First World War.
Adhesive reproductions of old photo negatives are attached to the windows overlooking a courtyard at U of T’s Trinity College. The college’s archives hold 210 glass-plate negatives of portraits from The War Memorial Volume of Trinity College, about 543 students and alumni who had served in the First World War.  (Richard Lautens)

Katie Daubs is a reporter and feature writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @kdaubs

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Cannabis IQ: What should THC limits be for cops, pilots, doctors, soldiers? – National

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What’s an appropriate level of marijuana consumption if a lot depends on your doing your job exactly right?

Police forces across the country have been wrestling with the question — not just as a law enforcement issue, but in setting rules for their own members.

An easy limit to enforce is not allowing consumption within 28 days of going on duty. (THC can be detectable up to 28 days after consumption.)

MORE: Want this weekly update delivered to your inbox? Sign up for Cannabis IQ.

Toronto police will enforce a 28-day limit, as will the RCMP. Edmonton police won’t allow officers to consume cannabis at all (though we could debate whether that’s actually stricter than a 28-day limit.)

Montreal police take a more tolerant approach, saying only that officers must be “fit for duty.” Federal correctional workers will have a 24-hour ban on consumption before going on duty.

The airlines face broadly similar issues. Air Canada and WestJet will ban employees in safety-sensitive positions, like flight crews and aircraft mechanics, from consuming pot at all.

WATCH: Flying high: rules surrounding passengers carrying cannabis at Canadian airports






Winnipeg’s hospital authority says only that employees “are required to report to work fit for duty and not impaired,” given that “there are currently no standards established for measuring the effects of cannabis.

The military takes a nuanced approach, looking at the risks in the job a service member will do. Troops have a 24-hour ban before handling weapons or explosives, but a 28-day ban before serving on a submarine or as aircrew.

It’s tempting to err on the side of caution, but what’s reasonable?

Solomon Israel had a useful explainer in The Leaf. To summarize: even looking at the heaviest users, scientists can’t find the tiniest example of THC influence after seven days from use. At that point, the effects they’re detecting can only be picked up by sophisticated neuropsychological tests, and don’t necessarily matter in the real world.

WATCH: AGLC licenses 17 Alberta cannabis stores for Oct. 17






In brief:

  • On Tuesday, the U.S. announced a major policy change — people who work in the Canadian marijuana industry would, on second thought, no longer be in danger from being banned for life from entering the United States.
  • When will a cannabis-impaired driver be charged? Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said Sunday it would have to be on a case-by-case basis.” “Legalization is being rushed through without proper planning or consideration for the negative consequences,” opposition public safety and justice critics charged.
  • From Global Edmonton’s Fletcher Kent, a reflection on cannabis’s slow journey into mainstream culture. (He talks to four bud trimmers, all senior citizens, who were recruited at the quilting group at the seniors’ centre in Peers, Alta. “Life’s a journey,” one observes.) 
  • Condo boards across the country have the thankless task of trying to regulate residents’ marijuana use.
  • Calgary will see only two cannabis stores open on Wednesday: over 100 more applications are waiting for provincial approval. Businesses caught waiting in line are grumpy.

WATCH: Doug Ford says he’ll consult about allowing marijuana in public parks






  • Large majorities of Manitobans fear that police don’t have the tools to identify marijuana-impaired drivers, and that impaired driving will increase when marijuana becomes legal. 
  • Increasing numbers of young people are ending up in hospital for cannabis poisoning. The problem seems to have to do with grey-market edibles, which can be in appealing formats like soft candy.
  • Warning signs are going up in airports across the country, warning people not to leave the country with their pot. But what are you supposed to do if you realize you have some that you should be getting rid of? Some U.S. airports have installed amnesty boxes, and Canadian airports are considering the same.

You asked:

  • How will the legalization of recreational cannabis affect the medical cannabis market and its clients?

Canada’s national recreational cannabis industry will take years to take its final form, whatever that looks like. In the meantime, there’s been much talk of shortages, at least at first.


READ MORE:
B.C. government anticipates a shortage of certain strains of recreational pot

That’s a manageable and temporary problem if you’re ordering marijuana as a recreational drug, and more serious if you need it as medicine. Unfortunately, the same licensed producers that supply the medical market are now frantically scaling up to supply the recreational market, in many cases with exactly the same products.

These crunches will sort themselves out over time, but obviously, that doesn’t help with a problem right now. (We spoke to an expert who wondered if a shortage of medical cannabis could be made up through imports, which raises some interesting possibilities.)

So the short answer is: yes, shortages for medical users are a possibility. If you’re in that situation, please let us know through the contact form below.


READ MORE:
You can buy live pot plants when they’re legal — at least in theory

Send us your questions

 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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UCP candidates posed with far-right group Soldiers of Odin, say they didn’t know who they were

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EDMONTON—After photos of three United Conservative Party (UCP) candidates posing and smiling with members of an extremist hate group circulated online Sunday, the party said their event has been “deliberately crashed” by a smaller political party.

The photos were taken at a UCP constituency pub night for West Henday on Oct. 5. They show UCP Edmonton-West Henday candidates Nicole Williams, Leila Houle and Lance Coulter posing with members of Soldiers of Odin’s Edmonton chapter, who can be identified by their hats and hoodies marked with “S.O.O.”

United Conservative Party candidate Lance Coulter, right, poses with a member of the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right extremist group, during a pub night in Edmonton on Oct. 5.
United Conservative Party candidate Lance Coulter, right, poses with a member of the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right extremist group, during a pub night in Edmonton on Oct. 5.  (Facebook)

The nomination candidates have since stated they were not aware of who they were posing with. “Had we known at the time, we certainly would not have our pictures taken with these individuals,” said Williams and Houle in a joint statement.

StarMetro has reached out to candidate Lance Coulter for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Read more:

Rise of right-wing extremists presents new challenge for Canadian law enforcement agencies

UCP leader Jason Kenney took to Twitter in response to the backlash, writing a statement that blamed the Alberta Independence Party, a smaller political party in the province, for crashing the pub night.

“Disturbed to learn that a UCP pub night in Edmonton was crashed by supporters of the fringe ‘Alberta Independence Party,’ including members of hate groups,” Kenney wrote. He was not present at the event, according to a UCP spokesperson.

United Conservative Party candidate Nicole Williams, second left, poses with members of the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right extremist group, during a pub night on Oct. 5 in Edmonton.
United Conservative Party candidate Nicole Williams, second left, poses with members of the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right extremist group, during a pub night on Oct. 5 in Edmonton.  (Facebook)

A Soldiers of Odin Edmonton Facebook page originally posted the photos on Saturday, thanking UCP candidates for their support. The group is known for its anti-immigration sentiments, and are considered a far-right extremist group by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

The photos were then reposted by multiple users on Twitter, including the group Progress Alberta, criticizing UCP members for posing with the extremist group. Duncan Kinney, executive director of Progress Alberta, said in an interview with StarMetro he does not believe the candidates were unaware of who they posed with.

“Their claims are obviously untrue,” he said. “ … If you were a politically aware person in 2018, you should know who the white-supremacist, racist, vigilante gangs are in Edmonton, and you should make sure that you don’t take pictures with them.”

United Conservative Party candidate Leila Houle, left, poses with members of the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right extremist group, during a pub night on Oct. 5 in Edmonton.
United Conservative Party candidate Leila Houle, left, poses with members of the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right extremist group, during a pub night on Oct. 5 in Edmonton.  (Facebook)

On their Twitter account, the UCP said their event was deliberately crashed by a man named Dave Bjorkman, who identifies himself on Facebook as a member of the Alberta Independence Party. The United Conservatives pointed to a Facebook post by Bjorkman, in which he wrote he was “happy to share [a] pub night” with the Soldiers of Odin in a “split event with the UCP.”

Bjorkman has since responded to the UCP’s claim that he hijacked their public event on Friday, writing on Facebook that he was invited to the event by the United Conservatives.

Alongside their joint statement, Williams and Houle also responded to backlash separately on social media, both condemning the extremist group.

“I know now, and I do not share the despicable views of this group.” Williams wrote on Twitter. “While we were in a public place, had I known their views I would have requested that they leave as their hate is not welcome in our party.”

Houle wrote on Facebook, “As an Indigenous woman, I condemn — in the strongest possible way – the SOO, and the violent, racist activity they have been attached to in Edmonton and across Canada. She added she wishes to move on from this “disturbing event.”

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