As Russia, China eye the Arctic, Canada upgrades CFS Alert, set to open new refuelling station
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s Northern tour didn’t come with any new spending announcements. Instead he talked up the importance of projects nearing completion that he says will bolster Canada’s claim to Arctic sovereignty.
Sajjan spent a day at CFS Alert and visited the Nanisivik refuelling station, near Arctic Bay, Nunavut, last week. Those visits followed a stop in Yellowknife to deliver new rifles to the Canadian Rangers.
At Alert, Canada’s northernmost military base, he spoke about $10 million of ongoing infrastructure and equipment upgrades at the facility. Those include new firefighting systems, upgrades to fuel tanks and power generators.
“Arctic sovereignty is much more than national defence,” he said. “These are Canadians, these are communities [of people] who actually live up in the North. Sovereignty is far more real because it’s making sure communities have support so they can live.
“But let’s also be very clear we want to ensure we have the national defence resources that we can equip the Canadian Armed Forces so we can protect our sovereignty.”
The government has committed to upgrades in the Arctic, Sajjan said, citing the purchase of new fixed-wing search and rescue planes and ongoing upgrades to the four Twin Otter aircraft stationed in Yellowknife, along with the upcoming launch of new Arctic patrol vessel, HMCS Harry DeWolf, and improvements to the radar systems.
“We need to do the proper research in the North to make sure we’re making the right decisions as a government,” Sajjan said.