May 21, 2002



Well, it's official. Faced with a choice between a major retreat from our other foreign commitment (NATO and Bosnia) and continuing to support the U.S. in Afghanistan, Afghanistan lost out: our battlegroup will be rotating out along with the 101st Airborne brigade it was a part of. There will be no replacements. See ya, Yanks; hope that whole war on terrorism thing works out for you guys. Let us know how it turns out, k?

Posted by BruceR at 04:38 PM



How would you feel if your city council and the largest newspaper in your city used a front page article in that paper calling for the eviction of you and all your officemates from your workspace, because the city needed to expropriate the building as a homeless shelter?

Well, if you can imagine that, you know how Toronto's army reserve units feel today, with this article in the Toronto Star. Using a video showing the current overcrowded states of the city's permanent homeless shelters, the writer and homeless advocates make the case for turning over Fort York Armoury (one of two downtown Toronto armouries) to be used as a 200-bed new shelter.

Now, urban vagrancy is certainly a problem, but is it the army's problem? The units at that armoury (The Queen's York Rangers, Royal Regiment of Canada, Toronto Scottish Regiment, and 709 Communications Regiment) collectively employ hundreds of people part- and full-time. No mention is made in the article about where those soldiers would move their offices, their weapons arsenals, their vehicles, their training... only that the commitment must be 12 months (read permanent... a year's eviction is not going to be reversed), and that shared use of the space is unacceptable... for the homeless.

Now I don't know how many dozens of soldiers working out of Fort York wear NATO or UN service ribbons, or how many score worked alongside myself during the big ice storm that cut off power to Eastern Ontario and Quebec in the middle of winter a few years back. I do know that homeless advocates (including the Toronto Star) are doing their best to put the army in a lose-lose situation... bear the massive costs of relocating their operation to new space out of the downtown, at a time when frankly, they have better things to do with the money; or appear uncooperative, an enemy of Toronto's homeless that can be conveniently blamed by the city from now on for their own lack of resources dedicated to the issue.

(The army is not unsympathetic. It has previously devoted reservists' space and resources to provide emergency accommodations during cold snaps, to prevent actual deaths on the streets in winter, or to provide a warm place to stay when snow shuts down transit and car travel, stranding people downtown. I've done a couple nights of that kind of service myself. But this request is coming in May, when the number of people desperate for temporary shelter is at its lowest... the homeless this is designed to serve are the permanently unintegratable... most of which in any sane society would be institutionalized for their own safety, not left to wander sick and delusional until the TB claims them. Once they get a bed inside any building, they're not leaving except to another one.)

The armoury floor was never ideal for this sort of thing you know... like any drill square, it's big, wide, cold and drafty. I can actually think of another big wide open indoor space I've worked in that would be perfect for this, less cold and drafty for sure, and would probably require relocating fewer employees overall... any chance the Toronto Star would give up its newsroom for a good cause? No? Then how do they have the gall to demand it of the soldiers?

And in other news today, the federal government is planning to shut down both of Canada's naval shipyards.

Posted by BruceR at 07:22 AM