Branch Events- 2013

Branch Luncheons and Guest Speakers for 2013:

                                                     2013 EVENTS
July 3 - Col.(ret) Ted Nurse - Writing Danny McLeod's Book
August 7 - Jeffery Schamehorn - JointEx, the exercise among all three services in Alberta
August 14 - BanYan
September 4 - Clay Samis
October 2 - No Speaker
November 6 - BGen (ret) Serge Labbe
December 4 - LCol Patrick Lemyre, D Cdts.- the state of the cadet wing


DECemBER Luncheon:

The Branch members were treated to an inside look at the Cadet Wing and changes that are in the works. Our speaker was LCol Patrick Lemyre, Director of Cadets who titled his talk, "The Cadet Wing Big Picture". In this position he oversees the military and training aspects of the Cadet Wing with his staff of 43. He has been challenged in his 18 month tenure by a large turnover of training staff, staff training and maternity leaves resulting in the doubling up of duties and a very heavy workload for those remaining 'on the ground'.   

The remilitarization of the Cadet Wing started about seven years ago and has been making steady progress. Patrick told us that the senior 'bar cadets' are understanding the changes and providing significant leadership. The next step is to help the more junior 'bar' cadets come to the same stage.  

The military training aspect of the College has been changed to focus more on the immediate future of the cadets as they look forward to graduation. The cadets feels good about the change as they are learning what they need to know now and have a little more time for academic studies. Related to this is a change in schedule. Only one weekend a month is devoted to military training and these weekends are scheduled to relieve pressure on key study periods. The annual Drill Competition was moved to November from a winter month. Senior 'bar' cadets are taking a significant and effective role in the training of the other cadets.  

Part of Patrick's talk was titled 'creating opportunities and tools'. In this revision, changes are being made to:

  • the morning routine: mandatory Monday inspections; Cadet Wing parade every Wednesday before the Professional Military Training lectures; morning PT;

  • the manner in which cadets move around the campus; 'disciplined walking' is required; a marching gait with arms swinging;

  • the distinction between years as identified by privileges; more privileges will be earned as cadets progress from one year to another;

  • the Cadet Wing operations manual (CADWINS) will be updated for the first time since 2009.

One part of the talk that captured the attention of the members is a new "Progression Model". This program is still in the development stage and will, if implemented, put emphasis on cadets making progress on all four pillars (leadership, academics, athletics, bilingualism) of the College as they move from year to year starting in September 2014. Only cadets who are making satisfactory progress under this concept will be considered for 'bar' positions. If expected progress is not being made, privileges may be withheld.   



Photo: LCol Patrick Lemyre, the current DCdts with two previous holders of this role, Bob Thomas and Al Pickering.

We regret that we have decided to cancel the 14 November dinner advertised earlier. The parameters under which the mess now operates have a resulted in high ticket price, one which your executive is not prepared to proceed with at this time. We sincerely regret the loss of an opportunity to dine together and regret any inconvenience this may cause for our members. We will continue to look for a way to address this issue so that our Spring dinner may be held.
Kingston Branch Executive

novemBER Luncheon:

Our members had the privilege of hearing from BGen (ret) Serge Labbé at their Remembrance Day meeting on 6 November 2013. Serge had a varied career in the Canadian Forces that took him to many international hot spots before retiring in 2008. After retiring and up until February of this year he returned to Afghanistan and served as a civilian advisor to the Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, as a senior political advisor in the NATO Senior Civilian Representative Office and as senior strategic partner to the four agricultural and redevelopment ministries. He completed this assignment as senior policy advisor to the Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in Kabul.

Serge spoke to us on his experiences in Afghanistan with particular emphasis on the sacrifices made by members of the CF serving there. He lauded the military leadership and the professionalism of all the ranks that served there. He was less kind in describing some of the political decisions made during Canada’s involvement in the war. We benefited from a passionate leader giving us an insider’s view of the conflict.

Every time something had to be done for the first time, Canadian forces did it and did it well. He made particular note of the leadership of generals Leslie and Hillier and LCol Ian Hope (who spoke to our members a few years ago). Operation Medusa, which started in September 2006, was described as the most significant battle fought by Canadians since the Korean War and during which 30 members were killed. 

Since the end of roles for Canadian troops in combat in Afghanistan, Canada has been the second largest contributor to the new training mission.

Serge’s final slide was of a tablet in the Commonwealth cemetery in Afghanistan showing some of the names of Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice. On this portion of the tablet is the name of Capt. Nichola Goddard of 1 RCHA, an ex-cadet and the first Canadian woman to be killed in combat. The other ex-cadet killed in Afghanistan was Capt. Matthew Dawe of the PPCLI.

The Afghanistan War, which spanned 2001 to 2014, resulted in 158 Canadian killed and 635 wounded. “Lest We Forget”.


octoBER Luncheon:

There was no speaker for this luncheon, however a presentation was made to 4976 Reg Watts by Brian Bailey on behalf of the Club President for Reg's efforts in leading the RMC Club Strategic Review.



At the meeting of our Branch on 4 September 2013, we were introduced to some of the tribal tensions and United Nations activity in the eastern border region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Clay Samis, a graduate from 1963 and a classmate of our president, Ted Davie, told us of his experience there, as part of a recent UN mission.

Tribes from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo seem to be always struggling to get an upper hand on the lands and the rich mineral deposits in the Congo. The Congo government in Kinshasa makes a less than half-hearted attempt to exercise control over the border area. The region is awash in weapons and armed groups.  

The United Nations has a mandate to deal with the foreign armed groups. The main focus is to encourage warrior tribesmen to put down their arms and return home. The only tools at the disposal of the 'peace-keepers' are pamphlets, videos, and radio & television broadcasts. Some of the warriors have turned themselves in. Their weapons are taken, the people are processed in transit camps and then transported to their home countries. Many have their families with them. 

Within the last two years, a new rebel group called M23 has emerged with 1,200 to 2,000 warriors. They have laid siege to Goma, where Clay was stationed. One day prior to M23's first attack, Clay had travelled south to visit another station. He received word that he should not return to Goma as the UN group was pulling out. 

Clay told us of the situation up to this week. There seems to be no prospect for a solution to the tensions in the foreseeable future due to:

  • the absence of a Congo governmental presence in the eastern region;

  • the economic incentive created by the minerals in east Congo;

  • the lack of experience in effective governance by the people in Congo and adjoining countries.




july Luncheon:

Col.(ret) Ted Nurse spoke to the meeting of the Kingston Branch of the RMC Club on 3 July 2013 about the book he has completed writing on the life of Danny McLeod. Danny is a beloved member of our branch who was Athletic Director at the College from 1960 to 1972. Ted was introduced to Danny for the first time five or six years ago by the late Bob Billings. It was Bob who encouraged Ted to write the book about this outstanding soldier, athlete, athletic executive, NHL executive and car salesman extraordinary.

 Ted described his getting to know Danny and learning about the details of his life. This was not easy as Danny is very reluctant to talk about himself or to indicate that he is 'special'. The interviews started in 2009 and sometimes took place twice a week. Their friendship was cemented during one of Danny's 'battlefield tours' in 2010 during which he learned of Danny incredible organisational ability. Once Ted did get him talking, he learned that Danny has an incredible memory, never tells a lie and never embellishes a fact. The book is a biography rather than a memoir so it includes information from many others who know and worked with Danny.

 Ted described the task of working with a publisher including the change of title and constraining the extent of the book. He concluded his talk with a few vignettes of Danny's life and getting stories about Danny from others.

 The book titled "Always a Leader" will be available in early September. Gen.(ret) John de Chastelaine was kind enough to write a 'Forward' for the book. Contact any member of the Branch executive for details or to get your name on a list for a copy of the book.

 Danny's wife, Sheila, joined us at the meeting on Danny's behalf who was unable to attend.

 Ted is a career armoured officer who commanded the 8th Canadian Hussars before attaining the rank of Colonel. Following retirement in 1997, he was the Kingston area regional manager for the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires.


june Luncheon:

A large number of interested members turned out to hear Dr. Robin Boadway tell us about a report on governance of the academic staff of the College. Robin was one of three ex-cadets on a commission that studied the governance situation at the College on behalf of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). He explained some of the background giving rise to the request by CAUT and 12 issues that were examined and the recommendations for each. The commission recognized that RMC is unique and different from civilian universities in that it has a mandate to prepare officers for the Canadian Forces and well as providing a university education. Nonetheless some structures and procedures at civilian universities should be adopted within RMC. The members feel strongly that two separate governance structures, one for the military and one of the academics, can function together effectively. Among the recommendations, the following were highlighted:

  • the evolution of the Canadian Defence Academy towards training vs education may have resulted in it being no longer appropriate to be in the chain of command above the College;

  • the 'rank' of the Principal should be returned to equivalency with that of the Commandant;

  • the creation of a separate academic budget under control of the Principal, accountable to the Board of Governors, and within the defence budget;

  • the Principal should be appointed Vice Chancellor, as is the case in most civilian universities, and the Chancellor's position be re-assigned from the Minister of National Defence to the Governor General;

  • the academic staff should be involved in the selection of the Principal, Deans and department heads and in academic promotions; the role of the civil service HR should be strictly supportive;

  • the position of Director of Administration should be re-created with a mandate to oversee administrative and support processes and issues;

  • the establishment of a formal tenure process; this would guarantee academic freedom and be a device for quality control of academic members.

The meeting was attended by Dr. Joel Sokolsky, the current principal and Dr. John Cowan, immediate past principal. They each made remarks pertinent to the recommendations of the review commission and both felt that the report is a good one and will be helpful in overcoming some issues if it is considered seriously. Joel offered an opinion that the main area of concern is between the academic staff and the civilian authorities in the federal civil service rather than with the military. John suggested that the informal consultative processes that used to be followed, should be re-instituted and then formalised one at a time.



May Luncheon:

Henri Cardinal, a Branch member and ex-cadet, spoke to the members on 1 May 2013 about his experience with the Montreal Police Department's use of a helicopter during the period from 1997 to 2000. Henri had been a helicopter pilot in the Canadian Air Force before joining the Montreal Police. The police force had limited experience with this type of aircraft back as far as 1960. In 1997 it had an opportunity to share a helicopter with the RCMP with the national force carrying most of the costs. Henri was one of two pilots, the other being from the RCMP. Some of his most interesting experiences was when he was working with the RCMP on its projects. 

Henri explained how the pilot and observer in the craft were able to assist ground forces track down suspects on foot, keep track of vehicles during car chases and scan areas to declare them clear much faster than could be done on the ground. The senior decision makers were not very visionary and did not seem to grasp the value of the airborne eyes to officers on the ground and so the use of helicopters was not continued on a regular basis.  

Most of the work was done at night to coincide with store closing times and bar closings and to avoid conflicts with commercial aircraft in and out of Trudeau Airport. The helicopter was equipped with some high tech devices to help spot their targets. Henri used the relationship-building skills learned in the Canadian Forces to win support for the air service among ground-based police and air traffic controllers at Trudeau. 

Thank you to Henri for a very interesting presentation.

April Luncheon:

The Kingston Branch met again in the Cadet Mess while the Senior Staff Mess is undergoing renovations. We heard an interesting message from Anthony Matlock who served as a parliamentary intern with the federal government in Ottawa from September to December 2012. Even before reaching RMC, Anthony had an impressive resume of adventure travel and volunteer work around the world. While at RMC he started the Expedition Club about which we heard earlier this year.

 Anthony was assigned to Conservative MP Chris Alexander who is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defense and who became his mentor. He worked in Ottawa and in Mr. Alexander's Ajax-Pickering riding office. His experience covered three areas: communication, special projects and outreach. Working behind the scenes in Ottawa he was involved with intergovernmental correspondence, the taking of minutes and the preparation of briefing notes. In the riding, he made a five minute video 'Life of an MP' for Mr. Alexander, intended to reach out to young people in the riding.

 Anthony feels that the time as an intern was well spent. It expanded his studies by being able to ask "Why?" to decision makers in Ottawa. This gave him a perspective he would not have gained in the classroom. The experience also advanced his leadership skills by working in an environment with a high level of accountability and where strategic thinking as in play every day. He was impressed with the drive and passion of the parliamentary staffers and the civil servants.

 While in Ottawa he was required to pay his own room and board.


FEBRUary Luncheon:

At the Branch meeting on Wednesday, 9 February we learned about the College's Expedition Club from three adventuresome cadets. Colin Strong (3rd year; Air Force; Kentville, NS) is the past president of the club and explained the structure of the club including the advisory committee of experienced cadets, officers and ex-cadets. There also is an executive committee of current cadets who plan the year's activities in consultation with members of the advisory committee. The aim of the club is to help cadets develop their leadership skills beyond what they learn at the College and during their summer training.


Stephanie Paquette (2nd year; Army; Gatineau, QC) described the expeditions to Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mt Aconcagua in Argentina. Raakesh Bharathi (3rd year; Army; Winnipeg, MB) described the expedition to the upper reaches of the Amazon. In all of these adventures, the cadets combine a program of adventure with cultural and/or academic dimensions.


Currently Stephanie is leading the planning for an expedition to the Candian Arctic that will combine adventure with a cultural dimension. She has already completed an ultra-marathon on Baffin Island in Nunavut. Raakesh is leading the planning for a cultural expedition to India with an added adventure dimension.So far the club members have covered the cost of these trips from their own resources. The RMC Foundation has assisted with a current activity. Currently they are developing a plan that may attract funds from other sources.


This was a very interesting presentation from three impressive cadets.



At ease!