July 17th, 2024

Blair defends navy’s Cuba visit, says critics may be ‘confused’ about its purpose

By The Canadian Press on June 17, 2024.

National Defence Minister Bill Blair speaks with reporters in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Monday, June 17, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Defence Minister Bill Blair says he was acting on advice from the military when he approved a plan to send a Canadian ship to Cuba, but he won’t say what advice he got.

The trip is getting attention this week because the Canadian navy ship was docked along with a Russian flotilla.

Blair says the Russian ships in Havana pose “no immediate threat” to Canada or Canadians, and the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Joint Operations Command advised to send a ship.

In an April press release, the navy said HMCS Margaret Brooke was being deployed to Havana to mark 80 years of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre called the visit “reckless, radical and dangerous” on social media, saying Cuba is run by a brutal communist dictatorship.

Blair says he thinks people may be confused about what the purpose of the visit was, and that the carefully planned trip was meant to send a message that Canada has a capable, deployable military.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2024.

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