Halifax – Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, concluded his visit to Halifax, where he co-hosted the 15th annual Halifax International Security Forum (HISF) with HFX President Mr. Peter Van Praagh. On November 17, Minister Blair welcomed delegates to HISF with a keynote speech that addressed security challenges in the Middle East, Europe, the Indo-Pacific, and North America. Minister Blair also discussed Canada’s commitment to maintaining a persistent presence in the Indo-Pacific Region, as outlined in Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy – and announced that the Canadian Armed Forces’ Lieutenant-General Derek Macaulay has been named as the next Deputy Commander of the United Nations (UN) Command – Korea. Minister Blair also reaffirmed Canada’s unwavering commitment to NATO and NORAD.
Minister Blair announced several multi-million-dollar defence investments in Halifax aimed at bolstering Canada’s security and that of its NATO allies. Minister Blair announced that the North American Regional office for NATO Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) will open in Halifax by summer 2024, supported by an initial Canadian investment of $26.6 million over six years.
Minister Blair also announced that Canada is moving forward with a new training facility at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax, Canada’s largest military base. The total estimated investment for this facility is $188 million. The EllisDon Corporation of Halifax has been awarded a $7.85 million contract to design the new Combatant Training and Integration Center – Atlantic (CTIC-A). We expect the CTIC-A project to sustain almost 650 jobs in the Halifax region during construction.
At HISF, Minister Blair met with representatives from Canada’s Allies and partners, to strengthen international security, and bolster our collective work to defend the rules-based international order. During the Forum, Minister Blair held bilateral meetings with:
- Commanding General, U.S. Army Pacific, General Charles A. Flynn. Minister Blair and General Flynn discussed Canada’s commitment to maintaining a persistent presence in the Indo-Pacific Region, and opportunities for greater collaboration between Canada and the United States in support of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Minister Blair highlighted that in 2023, Canada deployed three warships to the Indo-Pacific Region for the first time under Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy.
- U.S. Ambassador, David Cohen. Minister Blair and Ambassador Cohen discussed the unparalleled defence relationship between Canada and the United States, including through NORAD.
- United States Special Representative for the Economic Recovery of Ukraine, Ms. Penny Pritzker. Minister Blair reaffirmed Canada’s unwavering commitment to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. Minister Blair welcomed the United States’ ongoing financial and military support to Ukraine, and noted Canada has committed over $9.5 billion in assistance to Ukraine since February 2022. As Prime Minister Trudeau announced in September 2023, Canada will once again provide substantial macroeconomic support to Ukraine in 2024.
- Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur and General Martin Herem. Minister Blair recognized Estonia’s leadership on cybersecurity within the NATO Alliance, and highlighted Canada’s commitments to security in the Baltics, where Canada leads the multinational NATO battle group in Latvia. The two Ministers discussed the security challenges facing NATO Allies – and discussed how Allies are reinforcing their military presence on the Alliance’s eastern flank.
- The bipartisan U.S. Congressional Delegation, led by Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator James Risch. The Minister and the Delegation discussed the defence relationship between Canada and the United States, as well as military readiness and recruitment and retention. The Minister and the Delegation noted that NORAD and NATO are essential to the security of both countries – and Minister Blair reiterated Canada’s commitment to both alliances, including by making substantial investments in military capabilities.
- Kosovo’s Minister of Defence, Ejup Maqedonci. Minister Blair underlined Canada’s ongoing commitments to NATO’s Kosovo Force, and the Ministers discussed bilateral defence relations between Canada and Kosovo.
- Lithuanian Minister of Defence, Arvydas Anus̈auskas. Minister Blair highlighted Canada’s contributions to the security of NATO Allies in the Baltics – including by leading NATO’s multinational Battle Group in Latvia. The two Ministers discussed how NATO Allies are increasing the deterrence and defence posture on the Alliance’s eastern flank by developing multinational NATO Brigades in the Baltic states.
- The NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, Irene Fellin. Minister Blair and Ms. Fellin discussed how Canada and other NATO Allies are building more inclusive Armed Forces that can attract and retain talented people – including more women. Minister Blair conveyed Canada’s support for the meaningful integration of the Human Security and Women, Peace and Security agendas into NATO’s core tasks.
“At times like this, conferences like this one matter. Threats to international stability are on the rise – and in the face of those threats, we’ve got to work together. We must learn from one another and share experiences. We must step up to address these challenges, and to preserve peace and prosperity for our peoples. Together, I’m confident that we can build a safer world. We can ensure that our militaries are ready to face the threats of tomorrow. And ultimately, we can protect and strengthen the rules-based international order that keeps us all safe.” – Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence