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Sending Canadian ship to Cuba was carefully planned, says Bill Blair

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick The Canadian Press National Defense Minister Bill Blair

Stephanie Taylor – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

Published yesterday at 10:13 p.m.

  • Canada

National Defense Minister Bill Blair's office said sending a Canadian ship to Cuba, where it docked alongside part of the Russian fleet, was a “carefully” planned move to increase its presence in the region.

Spokesman Daniel Minden issued a statement saying the visit to the Havana port “was carefully and meticulously planned,” and that the minister authorized on the advice of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Joint Operations Command.

“We have made the small choice to increase our naval presence in the region,” we read in the statement. We believe it was important to show a Canadian presence.”

Conservatives criticized the decision on social media after Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly told CBC in a recent interview that she was unaware that one of the Canadian patrol boats was docked in Havana at the same time as Russian ships.

“This is information that is new to me,” the minister told host David Cochrane.

Michael Chong, Conservative foreign affairs critic, questioned why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government sent a Canadian ship to “celebrate” relations “with a dictatorship Communist,” referring to Cuba.

“And even less while Russian warships are docked there ?” posted Mr. Chong on X.

James Bezan, the party's national defense spokesman, argued that the decision warranted an inquiry by Parliament's defense committee, saying he wanted to hear Ms Joly and Mr Blair testify.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre issued a statement on X, calling the visit “reckless, radical and dangerous.”

“While our troops are under-resourced, Trudeau spends the defense budget and sends a Canadian military ship to Cuba alongside the Russian navy to honor Cuba's brutal communist government,” it reads.

The visit to Havana is the first by the Canadian navy since 2016 and comes at a time when Canada has sent billions of dollars in aid and military equipment to Ukraine to help him fight against the Russian invasion.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself returned to Canada on Sunday following a summit organized in Switzerland for peace in Ukraine.

During his stay, Mr. Trudeau pledged $52 million to help Ukraine and co-chaired a leaders' session during which he discussed of the need for the international community to call for the return of nearly 20,000 Ukrainian children forcibly removed from their homes by Russia.

Mr. Minden says Canada made “the wise choice” to increase its naval presence in the region, adding that one of its warships, HMCS Ville de Québec, and a CP-140 patrol plane were monitoring the Russian flotilla. .

In a message published this week on the social network 60~p>The visit to HMCS Margaret Brooke is expected to last from June 14 to 17.

Mélanie Joly's office deferred to that of Mr. Blair when asked to respond.

A statement from Bill Blair's office says he will provide an update Monday “on Canada's ongoing work to monitor the Russian Navy Flotilla and to demonstrate Canada's military presence and capability in North America.”

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116