Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

August 15, 2008 20:04 ET

CORRECTION FROM SOURCE: Minister of National Defence and Chief of the Defence Staff Travel to Arctic

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 15, 2008) - The following document corrects and replaces the release sent earlier today at 6:53 PM EDT.

The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, along with General Walt Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff, will embark on a five-day tour of Canada's Arctic. From August 18-22, Minister MacKay and General Natynczyk, accompanied by the Honourable Steven Fletcher, Member of Parliament for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia, will visit Yellowknife, Iqaluit, Nanisivik, Arctic Bay and Alert. This important visit will allow Minister MacKay and General Natynczyk to view Canadian Forces (CF) efforts in the North first-hand, including an important northern sovereignty exercise, Operation NANOOK.

"There is nothing more fundamental than the protection of our nation's security and sovereignty. Our Government knows that we have a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty over the Arctic. We either use it or lose it. That is why defending our Arctic sovereignty is a key strategic priority in our 'Canada First Defense Strategy,'"said Minister MacKay.

The Government of Canada has invested in key ongoing initiatives such as Arctic/Offshore patrol ships, a deep water berthing and refueling facility, an Arctic training centre, as well as the modernization and expansion of the Canadian Rangers, to help ensure that the CF is prepared to address future challenges in the Arctic.

"The CF have a significant role to play in supporting government departments that deal with security issues in the north, exercising our sovereignty and providing assistance to our citizens," said General Natynczyk. "Multi-agency exercises like Op NANOOK, which involves the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Nunavut territorial and federal government departments, are important because they provide an opportunity to enhance our capacity to operate together effectively in the case of an emergency or security operation."

This will be Minister MacKay's first official trip to the Canadian Arctic as Minister of National Defence and General Natynczyk's first as the new Chief of the Defence Staff.

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