Canada vs Denmark

It seems whenever Canada wants to show the Flag...somebody else
wants the Maple Leaf to 'fall'

Navy to conduct sovereignty patrol

HALIFAX (CP) - The Canadian navy will be showing the flag in the far North this summer, but nowhere near an island at the centre of an international dispute with Denmark.

Defence critics say the voyage of Halifax-based HMCS Glace Bay and HMCS Shawinigan is a missed opportunity to demonstrate sovereignty and reinforce Canada's claim to Hans Island, a barren, oval-shaped rock that is often dwarfed by neighboring icebergs off northwestern Greenland.

The coastal defence vessels will spend the better part of this month exercising and making port visits in remote parts of Labrador, Nunavet, Quebec and Manitoba, traveling through the Hudson Strait and into Hudson Bay.

The two small warships will be accompanied by Maritime patrol aircraft from Nova Scotia and the Northwest Terrorities.

The stated objective is "to increase the navy's presence in the north," the military said in a release Tuesday.

But Lieut. Marie Claude Gagne, a spokeswoman for Maritime Forces Atlantic, said the patrol route will not take the force near the tiny wind-swept atoll claimed by both Canada and Denmark.

Asserting Canadian sovereignty over the 1.3 kilometre island "is not the primary goal of the deployment," she said in an interview.

"The goal is to conduct joint operations."

Aside from training with aircraft, the minesweepers will pick up a contingent of Canadian Rangers, part-time reservists who provide a military presence in remote and coastal communities.

The exercise comes as a small Danish coastal patrol cutter - HDMS Tulugaq - travels to the area in order to plant a flag on the rocky outcrop.

Late last month, Defence Minister Bill Graham asserted Ottawa's claim by setting foot on the itsy-bitsy island, which could have major significance in the years to come.

With the thawing of northern seas and the potential for undersea resources, such as oil and natural gas, Canada's northern boundary with Greenland is taking on new importance.

Conservative defence critic Gordon O'Connor said Ottawa has been lax in enforcing Canada's sovereignty in the far north.

He pointed out the Danes have regularly visited the island, most recently in 2002.

The current exercise would have been a perfect opportunity to demonstrate Ottawa's resolve, said O'Connor.

"The real challenges of sovereignty are not going to be in Husdon Bay," he said in an interview from Ottawa.

"Beyond Hans Island I think we should be displaying our sovereignty in that archipelago, by whatever means, land, air or sea."

The federal Liberals said recently they intend to resolve the dispute through negotiations - a statement welcomed by Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who was quoted in European media Monday as saying it was "time to stop the flag war."

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