(AFP, 17 August 2009)—OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper embarked Monday on an Arctic tour that will culminate with a massive display of military muscle aimed at reinforcing Canada's sovereignty claims in the resource-rich region. Harper's first port of call on the five-day trip will be Iqaluit, formerly Frobisher Bay, at the southern tip of Baffin Island, where he will hold a cabinet meeting. The main event comes on Wednesday when he will observe Operation Nanook, an annual military exercise trumpeting Canada's sovereignty over a large swath of Arctic territory to the east of Baffin Island. Five countries bordering the Arctic—Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States—claim overlapping parts of the region, which is estimated to hold 90 billion untapped barrels of oil. Harper will board a frigate and then a submarine as it dives into the icy waters near Iqaluit, Brigadier-General David Millar, commander of Joint Task Force North, told public broadcaster CBC. In its fifth year, the Canadian military exercises—running from August 6 to August 28—are the biggest they have ever been. "We're growing our capability, and ramping up," navy spokesman Lieutenant Jordan Holder told AFP. This year it includes 700 personnel, aircraft patrolling the Hudson and Davis Straits, as well as the frigate HMCS Toronto and submarine HMCS Corner Brook, which will take part in anti-submarine warfare exercises along Canada's northern frontier.
Posted 17 August 2009; 8:51:18 PM. Permalink