Defence Minister Anita Anand says Canada is committed to the support of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, and is reinforcing its military presence in the region.
Speaking in Singapore at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual intergovernmental security conference, Anand announced Saturday that Canada will significantly enhance its military presence in the Indo-Pacific through Operation Horizon.
Anand says the new operation will replace the Indo-Pacific portion of Canada’s existing Operation Projection.
It will involve the annual deployment of an additional warship to the region, increased Canadian participation in international exercises, and strengthened relationships with regional partners through increased security co-operation.
Currently there are two Canadian military ships in the region, HMCS Montreal and the support ship MV Asterix.
Anand says the new operation will empower Canada to play a more active role in contributing to regional security.
Rising threat from cyberattacks, minister says
Anand also said Saturday that the country’s critical infrastructure was increasingly being targeted by cyberattacks.
The U.S. State Department warned last month that China was capable of launching cyberattacks against oil and gas pipelines and rail systems, after researchers discovered a Chinese hacking group had been spying on such networks.
In an interview on the sidelines of the summit, Anand said there had been an increase in cyberattacks across North America, although she did not attribute the strikes to any state-sponsored actors.
“We have seen attacks on critical infrastructure in our country and we are very conscious to advise Canadian organizations and Canadian companies to take mitigation measures,” Anand said.
“The risks can be substantial to our economy and systems that are protecting the lives of our citizens.”
Canada is home to a number of large oil pipelines that are important for global crude supplies. Multinational energy companies like Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell have major operations in the country.
Rising tensions between the United States and China have dominated proceedings at the meeting.
Chinese military officials have accused the U.S. and its allies of using the conference to gang up on Beijing and open divisions in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We have to be eyes wide open on China. They have become an increasingly disruptive global power,” Anand said when asked about China’s complaints.