Harper arrives in Iqaluit Aug. 17

PM to make series of announcements, pose for pictures


Prime Minister Stephen Harper departed Ottawa at 4:00 p.m. Aug. 17 for a five-day series of announcements and photo opportunities that will take him to Iqaluit, Pangnirtung, Yellowknife and Whitehorse.

Harper, due to arrive at the Iqaluit airport early Monday evening, will hold a cabinet meeting, inspect the navy frigate HMCS Toronto, board the submarine HMCS Corner Brook and make a series of announcements related to his government’s northern agenda.

On Tuesday morning at 9:30, Harper was expected to make an announcement at the Arctic Winter Games arena, the prime minister’s office said late on Monday.

His visit coincides with Operation Nanook, an annual air-sea-land exercise involving the Canadian Forces and a variety of civilian agencies, including the Government of Nunavut, the RCMP and the Coast Guard.

The latest installment of Operation Nanook brought more than 700 military personnel from all three branches of the Canadian Forces to Iqaluit over the last few weeks, from weekend reservists to Gen. Walter Natynczyk, the chief of defense staff.

They’ll be joined by dozens of aircraft and three Navy ships: a Maritime coastal defense vessel, the frigate HMCS Toronto and the submarine HMCS Charlottetown.

Over the next two weeks, soldiers will take part in an amphibious landing exercise in Frobisher Bay, anti-submarine warfare practice, and a “whole-of-government” exercise involving the military, RCMP and numerous other government agencies.

Operation Nanook also lures dozens of southern and international journalists, who will be tagging along with both the military and the Prime Minister. The Canadian Forces are eager to have them along to publicize Canada’s claim to Arctic sovereignty, said Navy Lt. Jordan Holder, a public affairs officer with Joint Task Force North based in Yellowknife.

“If you have a sovereignty operation in the North and no one hears about it, you have to ask yourself, what’s the point?” Holder said Friday.

On Tuesday morning, Canadian Forces will conduct an exercise near Apex. Starting at 6:00 a.m., troops will land ashore from Navy and Coast Guard vessels, then march with unloaded weapons along the road to Apex. Defence officials say there may be some minor disruptions to traffic.

Unless plans change, the Tory cabinet meeting will likely be held Tuesday in Iqaluit.

On Wednesday morning, a helicopter will likely fly Harper out to HMCS Toronto, which is taking part in Operation Nanook. While he’s down the bay, a small boat will transport Harper onto the HMCS Corner Brook.

On Thursday, Harper will make a short visit to Pangnirtung, where’s he’s expected to make an announcement. He’ll likely make another announcement later that day in Iqaluit.

After that, Harper will fly to Yellowknife, and then Whitehorse, where his northern tour will end on Aug. 21.

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