‘Sovereignty ig­nored is . . . sovereignty lost’

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - COMMENT -

Abot­tle of Nova Sco­tia sparkling wine smashed by So­phie Gre­goire Trudeau against the bow of a new pa­trol ship should be taken as a sym­bol that Canada is head­ing in the right di­rec­tion on Arc­tic sovereignty.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s wife was on hand Fri­day to name Canada’s new lead Arc­tic and off­shore pa­trol ship, the Harry DeWolf.

The is­sue of Arc­tic sovereignty — guar­an­tee­ing our north­ern fron­tier re­mains pa­trolled and pro­tected — doesn’t make for splashy head­lines.

But it will be a press­ing is­sue in decades ahead as coun­tries such as China and Rus­sia also in­crease their foothold in the re­gion.

“Our pres­ence in Canada’s North will be ex­tended, and our abil­ity to sup­port a breadth of global oper­a­tions will be en­hanced. To­day is an ex­cit­ing day that brings us one step closer to to­mor­row’s fu­ture fleet,” Vice-Ad­mi­ral Ron Lloyd, com­man­der of the Royal Cana­dian Navy, said Fri­day.

The Harry DeWolf is a vic­tory for both the Trudeau Lib­er­als and the Con­ser­va­tive government un­der Stephen Harper.

It was in 2007 that Op­er­a­tion Nanook first be­gan, an an­nual Cana­dian Armed Forces ex­er­cise held in the Arc­tic.

Harper at­tended it an­nu­ally, but Trudeau un­for­tu­nately has cho­sen not to main­tain that tra­di­tion. He should re­con­sider. That said, the Lib­er­als have not dropped the ball on this is­sue.

The re­lease of their de­fence pol­icy last year in­cluded com­mit­ments to “enhance the mo­bil­ity, reach and foot­print of the Cana­dian Armed Forces in Canada’s North to sup­port oper­a­tions, ex­er­cises, and the Cana­dian Armed Forces’ abil­ity to pro­ject force into the re­gion.”

This sum­mer, De­fence Min­is­ter Har­jit Sa­j­jan made a visit to CFS Alert in Nunavut and fi­nally re­placed the ri­fles used by the Cana­dian Rangers. Their pre­vi­ous ri­fles had been decades old, some dat­ing back to the First World War.

Last month, Maj.-Gen. Wil­liam F. Sey­mour, the deputy com­man­der of the Cana­dian Joint Oper­a­tions Com­mand, told a House of Com­mons com­mit­tee that while it’s alarmist to sug­gest our sovereignty is at risk, it can’t be for­got­ten ei­ther.

“Sovereignty ig­nored is per­haps sovereignty lost. And from a de­fence per­spec­tive, our key in­ter­est in the North is main­tain­ing an aware­ness of what’s go­ing on up there.”

There are more pa­trol ships to come and that’s a good thing.

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