Monday, July 9, 2007

Ottawa to announce new Arctic patrol vessels

Although Harper did promise to make Arctic sovereignty a priority he fails to stress that this brings him into direct conflict with the US that claims the Northwest Passage is international waters. This article as well fails to even note that it is the US as a prime opponent of the view that Canada has control of the Northwest Passage. The Russians have challenged US ships in their northern waters.

Ottawa to announce new Arctic patrol vessels
Last Updated: Monday, July 9, 2007 | 5:43 AM ET
CBC News
The Conservative government is expected to announce the purchase of six new Arctic patrol vessels Monday, following through on a promise to defend the country's northern regions.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will make the announcement during a ceremony at the Canadian Forces base Esquimalt on Vancouver Island.

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn and Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl will attend the ceremony.

Harper pledged during the federal election campaign to defend the Arctic, promising to spend billions to buy new underwater sensors, build an army base in Cambridge Bay, construct a deepwater port near Iqaluit and buy three naval ice-breakers.

Monday's announcement won't be the purchase of ice-breakers, but of six smaller Arctic patrol vessels.

"Any additional activity or resources that we apply to the North will increase our claim to sovereignty," said Pierre LeBlanc, the former CF commander in the North.

Documents obtained by the CBC indicate the military has evaluated four possible sites to base the vessels, including Iqaluit.

But LeBlanc says Iqaluit isn't the right location because it is nowhere near the Northwest Passage. Canada's military, he says, should be centred right in the middle of the Arctic, at Resolute Bay.

"Iqaluit is completely on the east coast of Canada and it would take ages to go to the West Coast from Iqaluit," he said.

"In terms of Canadian sovereignty, I think it would be the wrong place."

The military already has a base there, he said, and it would simply be a matter of expanding it.

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