FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Local MP Bob Zimmer recently made the long trip north to Inuvik, Northwest Territories, to discuss issues affecting the citizens of Canada’s far north—including Arctic sovereignty and security—with local leaders.
“It was important to me to come to Inuvik to learn more about the issues facing those living in the region,” said Zimmer, the Conservative party shadow minister for northern affairs and arctic sovereignty.
“Having lived in Northern British Columbia for most of my life, I understand that there can often be a disconnect between the realities facing those living in the North and the decisions being made in Ottawa.”
Inuvik is a town of just over 3,000, located 200 km north of the arctic circle, a ten-hour drive northeast of Dawson City and two hours south of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean.
Leaders in the region who met with Zimmer discussed the rising cost of living and its effect on their lives, as well as the importance of responsible resource development to the economies and communities in the region.
The town is also a forward operating location for NORAD and, as such, an important point of defense for Canada’s jagged northern border.
The largest hangar in the area and a “vital” asset to NORAD’s defense of the arctic, the Green Hangar, was allowed to be put up for sale by its owner, according to a press release from Zimmer.
Despite the alleged loss of the hangar in Inuvik, the federal government announced about $40 billion in funding over the next 20 years to upgrade North American defences.
“This is the most significant upgrade to NORAD, from a Canadian perspective, in almost four decades,” the Canadian minister of defense, Anita Anand, said in reference to the joint identification system used to recognize and alert nations of attacks on the shared continent.
The minister went on to identify several areas where that money will be concentrated, including new surveillance and radar systems that will detect any threats over the Arctic. It will also replace the North Warning System, a now-practically-defunct radar system from the 1980s designed to detect Russian aircraft.
The announcement also included plans for space-based surveillance, modernized communications, new missiles and refueling aircraft, and upgraded military infrastructure across the Arctic.
Zimmer was not impressed by the government’s announcement, and said it lacked key details: namely, dates and times.
“Unfortunately, with this week’s NORAD announcement we are seeing more of the same from the Trudeau government. Hollow promises with few details and no timelines,” Zimmer explained.
“I will continue to call on the Trudeau government to urgently develop a robust plan to defend Canada’s Arctic sovereignty and security and keep Canada and Canadians safe,” he said.
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