Prime Minister announces expansion of Canadian Forces facilities and operations in the Arctic

Resolute Bay, NU
10 August 2007

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Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you’ Brigadier-General Whitecross, for that kind introduction.

Greetings to Brigadier-General Poulter.

Commodore Williams.

Minister O’Connor.

Personnel of our Arctic Rangers.

Thank you all for joining us here in Resolute Bay for today’s important announcement regarding Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.

At the dawn of the 20th century, novelist John Buchan (the future Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir) wrote this about Canada: 

“It is essentially a country of the larger air, where men can still face the old primeval forces of nature and be braced into vigour and withal so beautiful that it can readily inspire that romantic patriotism which is one of the most priceless assets of a people.” 

More than a hundred years have passed since Buchan penned those words, but they ring just as true today in Canada’s north.

As the delay in our voyage here demonstrates, this remains a place where the “primeval forces of nature” still hold sway.

A place where men and women are “braced into vigour” by the huge, trackless landscape and the often harsh elements and a place so stunningly beautiful that no Canadian can experience it without feeling an overwhelming sense of “romantic patriotism” for our country.

Even Canadians who have never been north of 60 feel it.

It’s embedded in our history, our literature, our art, our music – our Canadian soul.

That’s why we react so strongly when other countries show disrespect for our sovereignty over the Arctic.

And that’s why we’re gathered in resolute, a community whose very name expresses our intent and purpose here today.

Protecting national sovereignty – the integrity of our borders – is the first and foremost responsibility of the national government,

A responsibility which has too often been neglected.

Canada’s New Government understands the first principle of Arctic sovereignty: use it or lose it.

We recognize the North is a vast storehouse of energy and mineral resources.

We know that climate change is increasing accessibility to its treasures.

And we understand the challenges our sovereignty in the Arctic may face.

For all these reasons, I’m proud to announce today a series of measures that will strengthen Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.

First, our government will expand the size and capabilities of the Canadian Rangers.

Stationed in communities scattered across all three territories – as well as the northern reaches of seven provinces – the rangers are a tangible expression of Canada’s ability to defend its northern lands.

Their intimate knowledge of the terrain and climate is an invaluable strategic resource.

Operating under the command of the Canadian army, the rangers will be expanded to 5,000 personnel, and their uniforms, weapons and transport vehicles will be upgraded and modernized.

Second, our government will establish the Canadian forces Arctic training centre.

Located here in resolute, this year-round, multi-purpose facility will provide specialized training in cold weather military operations, search and research techniques and sovereignty enforcement.

In the years ahead, the centre will host thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and other personnel from across Canada as they acquire the skills needed to control and protect the Arctic archipelago.

Finally, we will establish a deep-water docking and refuelling facility at Nanisivik.

Strategically located on the other side of the Northwest Passage, Nanisivik, near the community of Arctic bay, is the ideal location for Canada’s first deep water port in the far North.

As you will see later, it already has a large berthing facility, which will substantially reduce the cost of developing the port.

And while the port’s main purpose will be military – notably serving the new Arctic-offshore patrol ships announced earlier this summer – Nanisivik will have civilian applications as well. 

Indeed, when we visit the port later today, we will be greeted by Canadian coast guard ship Des Groseilliers, which is on a mission to deliver supplies to remote Arctic communities. 

Taken together, the creation of the Canadian forces Arctic training centre, the expansion and modernization of the Canadian Rangers and the development of port Nanisivik will significantly strengthen Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic.

These initiatives will also benefit communities throughout the region by creating jobs and opportunities and enhancing the safety and security of the people who live here.

Most importantly, today’s announcements tell the world that Canada has a real, growing, long-term presence in the Arctic.

That the Arctic archipelago is an integral, indivisible part of the True North Strong and Free.

And that we will not compromise the defence or the sovereignty of Canadian territory.

Thank you.

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