National Defence Minister Anita Anand insists Canada is ready to handle evolving global threats, after missile explosions in Poland prompted concerns about Russia’s war in Ukraine spilling into a NATO country, a tense interaction between the prime minister and China’s president was caught on video, North Korea tested a ballistic missile, and a new report from Canada’s auditor general states there’s a lack of preparedness to properly survey the Arctic, this week.
In an interview with CTV’s Question Period with Joyce Napier, airing Sunday, Anand said it’s vital Canada “be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
“We need to be able to contribute to our multilateral alliances to NATO and to bilateral support for Ukraine, at the same time as ensuring that we have a presence in supporting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” she said.
This all comes as the world’s largest gathering of defence leaders from democracies are meeting in Halifax this weekend. On Saturday, Anand had a bilateral meeting with United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to reaffirm support for Ukraine, and discuss upgrades to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), among other topics.
Anand told CTV’s Question Period that Canada is continuing to work with its allies, and that she’ll remain as diligent and prudent as possible when making decisions, especially when it comes to incidents such as the missile strikes in Poland this week, on the border with Ukraine, which left two people dead. There was initial concern the missiles may have been from Russia, which may have been seen as an attack on a NATO country.
“I, of course, was very concerned, and I remain concerned, as I have been since February 24, when Russia illegally and unjustifiably invaded a sovereign democratic country,” Anand said. “We will continue to stand with Ukraine in the short and the long term and that’s why Canada has offered its support in the investigation of those two missiles that hit Poland.”
Meanwhile Canada’s relations with China took centre stage this week when a video of Chinese President Xi Jinping confronting Trudeau went viral, prompting many to speculate about the state of the relationship. The tense exchange, which opposition parties said Trudeau mishandled, came shortly before the release of the federal government’s long-awaited Indo-Pacific Strategy, which is expected by the end of the month.
“We are ready and we will continue to be even more prepared as we undertake this new Indo-Pacific Strategy,” Anand said.
When asked about a new report by auditor general Karen Hogan this week, which stated various Canadian vessels in the Arctic need to be replaced, and the Canadian government’s delay in doing so could affect surveillance in the region, Anand reiterated that she announced this year the federal government has committed an additional $40 billion over 20 years to defence, of which nearly $5 billion will go to upgrading NORAD.
“We are on it,” she said. “Arctic sovereignty is absolutely crucial as this global environment continues to change, we will continue to upgrade our protections in our North.”
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