PRESS RELEASE

SENATOR PATTERSON QUESTIONS MINISTER SAJJAN ON ARCTIC SOVEREIGNTY AND AN EXPANDED ROLE FOR THE RANGERS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 24, 2016

Ottawa, ON. – In Question Period today in the Senate, Senator Dennis Patterson questioned Minister Sajjan on Arctic sovereignty and the potential role the Rangers could play in protecting it.

“Minister, as a Senator from Canada’s Arctic Coast, I am concerned with the steady and significant military and infrastructure buildup in the Russian Arctic. Your mandate letter echoes recommendations made by two Senate Committees to expand the Canadian Rangers to protect Canadian Arctic sovereignty and assist in search and rescue.

When will we see the increase in the size of the Canadian Rangers?  By how many?”

The Minister confirmed we would see an increase but wouldn’t commit to specifics.

Senator Patterson then asked if the Rangers’ mandate would be expanded to allow them to operate in the marine environment and support the operations of the new Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels, spill response, and search and rescue.

Minister Sajjan called the question “unique” and invited Senator Patterson to present his suggestion for an expanded role to the Defense Review.

Senator Patterson will accept the Minister’s invitation and will be preparing a submission.

Quick Facts:

  • Russia has built airstrips and brought armoured vehicles into the Arctic. On October 22, 2015, it was reported that Russia was nearly done constructing a large Arctic base in Kotelny Island, off the east Siberian coast.  It is now home to the 99th Arctic tactical group, a permanent unit serving the region.

https://www.rt.com/news/319394-arctic-military-base-islands/

  • Senate National Defense Committee Report, “Sovereignty and Security in Canada’s Arctic”. March, 2011.

Recommendation 2: The Government keep the Canadian Rangers modernization program on track, with consideration given to expanding the Rangers’ role in the marine environment. The program should be completed sooner than later.

http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/403/defe/rep/rep07mar11-e.pdf

  • Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans Report, “Controlling Canada’s Arctic Waters: Role of the Canadian Coast Guard”. December, 2009.

Recommendation 6: The Committee recommends that the “Arctic Vision” include the notion of the Coast Guard, along with the Canadian Forces, having a year-round northern operation administered in the North to demonstrate that Canada is serious about protecting Canadian interests and the interests of Canada’s northern residents.

Recommendation 9: The Committee recommends that additional federal funding be provided to the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary for the purchase of tangible assets directly related to the provision of search and rescue services.

http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/sen/committee/402/fish/rep/rep07dec09-e.pdf

  • Minister Sajjan’s mandate letter reads: “Renew Canada’s focus on surveillance and control of Canadian territory and approaches, particularly our Arctic regions, and increase the size of the Canadian Rangers.”

http://pm.gc.ca/eng/minister-national-defence-mandate-letter

Press Release – Minister Sajjan