Canadian frigate to remain on guard during unrest
As the situation in Syria worsens, the frigate HMCS Vancouver will stay in the Mediterranean Sea until early 2012.
"HMCS Vancouver will be tasked, while on Operation Active Endeavour, to take part in such events as locating, tracking, reporting (and) boarding vessels of interest suspected of international terrorism," Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced after the conclusion of the Halifax International Security Forum.
The ship was already in the region following the end of her mission off the coast of Libya.
MacKay also noted a Royal Canadian Navy presence in the Mediterranean Sea would continue until the end of next year, with HMCS Charlottetown eventually relieving HMCS Vancouver.
While the new mission is officially limited to fighting terror-related activities, MacKay’s announcement noted that the Mediterranean presence of NATO ships has contributed to enhanced security and stability in the entire region.
There is growing speculation Canadian and other NATO vessels are staying in the area in advance of possible intervention in Syria, but the defence minister stressed that’s not the only possibility for the frigate.
"There is no question having a ship in the region, in the event that Canadians need direct assistance or evacuations, gives us that utility – gives us that capability to respond should certain things transpire," MacKay said.
The minister also commented on Chinese and Russian opposition to further pressure on Syria, despite a Damascus-led crackdown that’s taken more than 3,500 lives.
"It’s fair to say that a lot of dictators are on notice that this type of behaviour is not going to be tolerated," MacKay said. "Those members of the (United Nations) Security Council that need convincing will be given more information before a final pronouncement will be made and we’re just not there yet." MacKay didn’t specify what further actions the Conservative government is contemplating on Syria.