Minister Blair concludes productive visit to Washington, D.C. to discuss Our North, Strong and Free

May 14, 2024 – Washington, D.C. – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Today, the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, concluded a productive two-day visit to Washington, D.C., where he discussed Canada’s defence policy update, Our North, Strong and Free, with our American allies and partners.

On May 13, Minister Blair met with United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Pentagon to discuss Our North, Strong and Free, as well as NORAD Modernization efforts, support for Ukraine, and other key priorities including the crisis in Haiti and joint efforts between Canada and the United States to ensure a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

After his bilateral meeting with Secretary Austin, Minister Blair delivered remarks at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council and participated in a fireside chat with Mr. Ian Brzezinski, Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Initiative, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. Minister Blair also participated in a roundtable discussion with the Defense Writers Group hosted by George Washington University to discuss Our North, Strong and Free, support for Ukraine, and continental security.

Also on May 13, Minister Blair welcomed senior U.S. government officials to the Embassy of Canada for a discussion on Our North, Strong and Free, and on Canadian and American innovation in cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, and quantum technology.

On May 14, Minister Blair hosted defence industry leaders for a working breakfast focused on Our North, Strong and Free, and Canada’s commitment to renew its relationship with the defence industry. Minister Blair outlined the measures in the defence policy update to provide more certainty and clarity to industry partners, and to build a stronger relationship founded on transparency and trust. These include a $9.5 billion, long-term investment in ammunition supply and production – and piloting a Continuous Capability Sustainment approach to upgrading equipment. Canada has also committed to review its defence policy every four years, and to publish a National Security Strategy every four years.

Minister Blair also met with United States Senator Tim Kaine. The Minister and Senator Kaine discussed Canada’s defence policy update, support for Ukraine, NORAD Modernization, and security in the Indo-Pacific. Minister Blair thanked Senator Kaine for his longstanding support of the Halifax International Security Forum, held annually in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Finally, Minister Blair met with Theodore (Ted) Colbert III, Executive Vice-President of The Boeing Company and President and Chief Executive Officer of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. The Minister and Mr. Colbert discussed Canada’s acquisition of up to 16 P-8A Poseidon Multi Mission Aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force, which was announced by Minister Blair in November 2023.

The P-8A will replace Canada’s current maritime patrol aircraft, the CP-140 Aurora, which has been in service for more than 40 years. This platform is a proven capability that is operated by all our Five Eyes allies—the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand—as well as other defence partners. The P-8A will provide Canada an advanced multi-mission platform to conduct maritime and overland surveillance in defence of Canada and to support our allies, with integrated C4ISR, anti-submarine and anti-surface capabilities. The first P-8A should be delivered in 2026, with full operational capability anticipated by 2033.

Minister Blair discussed with Mr. Colbert, as well as with other industry leaders, how the government can work effectively through targeted investments in Canadian industry to support the growth of our aerospace and defence sector.

The United States is Canada’s closest friend, partner, and ally – and the two countries maintain an unparalleled defence relationship built upon decades of trust and collaboration, and shared values.

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