Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lackenbauer on the Canadian Rangers: no gag

I was pleased and relieved to hear Professor Whitney Lackenbauer, historian of the Canadian north and sovereignty issues, interviewed on CBC Radio this morning. Clearly he has not been silenced by the Canadian Forces or by anyone else. (See yesterday's blog post.)

Meanwhile, he had sent me a note and a link to a statement he has issued, correcting the erronous report by the CBC that he was prevented from speaking.

His statement, issued through St Jerome's College at the University of Waterloo is unequivocal: he was never silenced. No one had prevented the media from speaking with him.
Kristen Everson’s CBC story “'Significant number' of Canadian Ranger deaths flagged by military chaplain” (20 April 2015) states that “The military also blocked CBC from speaking to historian Whitney Lackenbauer, who has written a book on the Rangers. Lackenbauer is also the honorary lieutenant colonel of 1 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group. In an email, the military said Lackenbauer was ‘not familiar with the whole story.’” For the record, I was never “blocked” from doing an interview with the CBC. As a professor who values his academic freedom, has written extensively on the Rangers, and has done many television, radio, and newspaper interviews on the Rangers over the years, I state emphatically that this is not a case of military censorship. In fact, the commanding officer of 1stCanadian Ranger Patrol Group has been very supporting and has often encouraged me to speak about the Rangers in the media and in public talks across the country on whatever issues I feel comfortable discussing. In this particular case, I decided to decline the interviewer’s request for an interview when I learned of the specific nature of her inquiry. I did and do not feel comfortable, as an historian and commentator on Arctic security affairs, to answer questions related to the circumstances surrounding specific Ranger deaths, to “accumulated stress”/”burnout” issues, or to medical policy issues. I do not have specific expertise or sufficient background in these topic areas. Accordingly, I decided that comments on these matters would be best left to professionals with expertise in these fields.
That seems clear and reasonable and would seem to end the controversy. I appreciate the friendly note from Professor Lackenbauer that set me straight and alerted me to his statement. As he says, he is often seen and heard in the media, and I look forward to more of that.

Thanks also to Andrew Thomson, who also sent a link to the corrective statement.

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