Friday, August 31, 2007

Latest Canadian casualty in Afghanistan identified

Andrew Mayeda

CanWest News Service

Thursday, August 30, 2007

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- The Canadian soldier who died this week after being found shot in his room has been identified as Maj. Raymond Ruckpaul.

Mr. Ruckpaul, 41, was an armoured officer serving at the NATO coalition headquarters in Kabul. He was previously based at the NATO Allied Land Component headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany.

Mr. Ruckpaul was discovered about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday after suffering a gunshot wound. Medical personnel tried to save him but he died around 7:30 a.m.

The cause of the death is being investigated by the Canadian military as well as the International Security Assistance Force, the name of the NATO force based in Afghanistan.

"Due to this police investigation, we won't comment on the nature (of the death) nor the events surrounding it," military spokesman Capt. Sylvain Chalifour said this week.

However, he said "all options are open" regarding the cause of death, including suicide, murder and accidental discharge of the weapon.

It does not appear that the death was caused by "hostile action," added Capt. Chalifour.
Seventy Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have now died in Afghanistan since 2002.

It could be months before any light is shed on Wednesday's death.

Most of the soldiers have been killed by improvised explosive devices or suicide bombers, but some have died in unusual, non-combat circumstances.

Last August, Master Cpl. Jeffrey Walsh was accidentally shot by a fellow Canadian soldier while they were on patrol in a G-wagon vehicle.

Cpl. Walsh's family said they were kept in the dark by the military for eight months. The soldier who shot Walsh, Master Cpl. Robbie Fraser, was charged with manslaughter and negligent performance of duty in March.

This spring, Cpl. Kevin Megeney was accidentally shot in the chest while in his tent at Kandahar Airfield.

The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is still investigating the incident.
The investigative unit is usually called in when military police believe a serious breach of the military's code of conduct or a criminal offence has been committed.

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said the Liberals will use their first opposition day motion when Parliament resumes to try to bring the controversy over Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan to a head.

Mr. Dion told a news conference in St. John's, the motion will ask the government to give formal notice to NATO that the combat mission involving more than 2,000 Canadian troops be ended as scheduled in February, 2009.

The Liberals have been calling on the government to do this since last winter and Mr. Dion said they are fed up with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's "vague" pronouncements in which he has said he would seek a consensus from Parliament before deciding on the future of the mission.

Mr. Dion could be certain of support from the Bloc Quebecois, whose leader, Gilles Duceppe, has said his party would vote non-confidence in the government if a possible throne speech opening a new session of Parliament does not promise the February, 2009, end to the mission.

Mr. Dion called on New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton for support "for once." The NDP voted against a similar motion earlier this year on grounds they want an immediate withdrawal of troops.

Mr. Dion said he would not make the motion a confidence vote which could defeat the government, although Mr. Harper could declare it a confidence test.

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