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Defence minister stops in Yellowknife to discuss policy

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan met with community leaders and academics as part of a day-long roundtable discussion on defence policy in Yellowknife Tuesday.

The federal government is currently conducting a countrywide assessment of its defence program, something it hasn’t done since 1994.

The public consultations are meant to stimulate “open and transparent dialogue with Canadians and key stakeholders to inform the development of a new defence policy for Canada.”

Read: NWT Junior Rangers Compete In National Shooting Championship

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Sajjan, a retired lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces, will also meet with stakeholders in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal and Halifax as part of the tour ending in July.

“When it comes to the Canadian Armed Forces and the defence review, all Canadians should have a voice and that’s why it was important for us to come to Yellowknife,” said Sajjan.

“I already have a department full of generals with phenomenal experience to provide that right expertise on speaking with international partners.

“But we need the people who have done the research and people who have done their own consultations.”

Sajjan says early discussions have focused on challenges to Canada’s security and the role the Canadian Armed Forces play in addressing current threats.

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He also hinted at expanding the Junior Canadian Rangers program, something Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod says is already growing in the NWT.

“We have new programs that are really becoming popular in the communities such as the Junior Rangers,” he said.

“How do we expand those programs? Are we on par with other jurisdictions? All these questions are out there and will be answered by going through this review.”

Feedback for the defence policy can be submitted online until July 31. Public input will inform a new policy scheduled for release in early 2017.

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