IQALUIT, Nunavut – Stephen Harper took to the air and sea – even venturing below the waves – as Canada flexed its military muscle in the Far North on Wednesday.
The prime minister handled the controls of a Sea King helicopter for part of the flight from Iqaluit to the frigate HMCS Toronto to observe Operation Nanook – a military exercise off Baffin Island.
He was strapped in with his feet hanging over the side of the open door as the chopper landed on the ship.
Harper later boarded the submarine HMCS Corner Brook and dipped below the frigid waters in an anti-submarine exercise.
It was all part of the Conservative government’s attempt to trumpet Canada’s sovereignty in the North.
Harper told the crew of the Toronto that protecting the country’s borders is the “first and foremost responsibility of a national government.”
“With other countries probing our north by sea and in the air, the work you are doing here to protect our sovereignty has never been so important,” he said.
Harper is on a five-day arctic tour that wraps up Friday.
On Tuesday, he officially announced a long-promised northern development agency to funnel business support and infrastructure cash.