Friday, April 3, 2015

Stephen Harper may draft Canadian youth if re-elected

Harper may start drafting Canadian youth if re-elected

Harper may start drafting Canadian youth if re-elected
Did John Baird resign over proposed conscription bill?
CBC News Posted: Mar 31, 2015 1:34 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 31, 2015 3:16 PM ET

When former foreign affairs minister John Baird announced in February he would be resigning from cabinet, there was one secret he was keeping: his falling out with the Prime Minister over Harper’s plan to introduce a conscription bill shortly after the federal election.

In a February interview with CBC’s chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge, Baird said he didn’t want to become one of the “lifers” in federal politics. He had made the decision to leave politics to pursue career opportunities in the private sector.

EXCLUSIVE: John Baird tells Peter Mansbridge he didn’t want to be political lifer

But according to two reliable sources — both close friends of Baird — it was during a special closed-door meeting with Baird, Harper and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January 2014 — on the third day of Harper’s four-day trip to Israel — that Harper discussed the possibility of a conscription bill for 18-year-old men and women, based on the Israeli model.

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Conscription exists for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18, although non-Druze Arab citizens of Israel are exempt; other exceptions are made on religious, physical or psychological grounds. The normal length of compulsory service is currently three years for men and two years for women.

Despite a general impression that the majority of Israeli citizens are conscripted, only about 50% of potential conscripts actually serve in the military.

According to an official in the Department of National Defence, interviewed on condition of anonymity, the normal length of compulsory service for Canadians would only be one year for men and women. Should a conscript wish to serve a second or third year, or make the military a career, he or she could apply after completing the initial year of training.

An automatic postponement — not exemption — would be granted for any teen who had not graduated from secondary/high school.

If the Conservatives win another majority and the bill passes, it would take effect September 1, 2016.

“Such a bill would deprive Canadian youth of their liberties,” says Michele H. Hollins, President of the Canadian Bar Association, “and would be vigorously challenged in the courts.” The CBA represents over 37,000 lawyers, judges, notaries, law teachers, and law students from across Canada.

Baird has since become a special international adviser to Barrick Gold Corp. The Toronto-based mining giant (TSX:ABX), in its annual report issued March 28, lists Baird as a member of its international advisory board.

John Baird, ex-foreign affairs minister, to advise Barrick Gold

Baird, 45, has been in politics most of his adult life. He was first elected as an MP in 2006 after a decade in provincial politics in Ontario, where he served in the cabinet of Mike Harris.

Despite repeated requests, Baird could not be reached for comment.


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