Harper to visit Canadian frigate in Baltic Sea, Polish counterpart says

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit a Canadian frigate conducting military exercises with NATO forces in the Baltic Sea, the Polish prime minister revealed Tuesday.

WARSAW, Poland — Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit a Canadian frigate conducting military exercises with NATO forces in the Baltic Sea, the Polish prime minister revealed Tuesday.

Ewa Kopacz made the disclosure during a joint statement with Harper in Warsaw, catching officials with the Prime Minister’s Office off guard and raising questions about whether operational safety may have been compromised.

“You might want to know that the prime minister is going to Gdansk tomorrow… where he will be visiting Canadian frigates participating in the military exercises,” Kopacz said through a translator to a room packed with journalists.

The trip had not been publicly announced by Harper’s office. The leaders did not take questions from journalists, making joint statements instead.

Harper did not appear to be thrown off stride by the revelation.

Defence Minister Jason Kenney later confirmed that the prime minister would indeed be visiting HMCS Fredericton as a show of solidarity with Canadian military personnel and their allies.

“I’m not going to discuss exactly what we might be doing in the next 24 hours except to say that obviously our prime minister will be visiting one of the frigates that’s been on joint training exercises in the Baltic Sea with a large-scale NATO naval exercise,” Kenney said.

Kenney was in Warsaw for meetings with Polish military officials.

Earlier, Harper took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in the historic square where Polish-born Pope John Paul II delivered a stirring homily in June 1979 that stressed human dignity in support of the Poland’s anti-communist Solidarity movement.

He also met with Kopacz and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.

Poland is a major European ally of Canada, which deployed more than 200 troops here on NATO training exercises last year.

Previously, Harper attended the G7 summit in Germany, where the continuing unrest between Ukraine and Russia was a hot topic.

“Canada and Poland served side by side in Afghanistan, and we now stand together in promoting freedom and democracy in Ukraine,” the prime minister said in his address.

Harper enjoys strong relations with Poland after forging a bond with Kopacz’s predecessor Donald Tusk, who became European Council president last year.

The Polish diaspora in Canada is estimated to be about one million people, which Harper said represents the strong bond between the two countries.

Before the G7, Harper stopped in Ukraine to pledge Canadian solidarity in the country’s fight against Russian-backed rebels in the country’s east. While he was there, months of shaky ceasefire gave way to some of the worst violence of the conflict.

Standing next to Kopacz, Harper reiterated Canada’s solidarity in standing with its allies against Russian President Vladimir Putin in east Ukraine. Harper’s trip to the frigate was part of that effort, Kenney said.

“One of the reasons the prime minister is here is to underscore solidarity with our allies in eastern Europe — both Ukraine, Poland and the three Baltic states — who are concerned obviously about Vladimir Putin’s policy of aggression.”

Kopacz’s gaffe came on a morning when she awoke to major development in a simmering domestic political scandal that has been dogging her government. Like Harper, she will have to fight a national election this coming October.

Her remark also overshadowed Harper’s announcement for the day — the signing of a defence co-operation agreement between Poland and Canada.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

63 per cent said equality between men and women has not been achieved

FILE - In this March 3, 2021, file photo, anti-coup protesters run as one of them discharges a fire extinguisher to counter the impact of tear gas fired by riot policemen in Yangon, Myanmar. The escalation of violence in Myanmar as authorities crack down on protests against the Feb. 1 coup is adding to pressure for more sanctions against the junta, as countries struggle over how to best confront military leaders inured to global condemnation. (AP Photo/File)
Escalating violence raises pressure for Myanmar sanctions

More shootings were reported over the weekend

A moth-killing drone hovers over crops in a green house in Monster, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. A Dutch startup is using drones to kill moths in midair as a way of protecting valuable crops in greenhouses that are damaged by caterpillars. PATS Indoor Drone Solutions emerged from the work of a group of students looking for ways to kill mosquitos in their dorm rooms. The drones themselves are very basic, but they are steered by smart technology and special cameras that scan the airspace in greenhouses. When the cameras detect a moth, a drone is set on a collision course with the bug, destroying the bug with its rotors. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)
Drones vs hungry moths: Dutch use hi-tech to protect crops

Drones instantly kill the moths by flying into them

Health-care worker Jenne Saunders prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province on March 1, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada set to receive more than 910,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week

Federal government looks for vaccine-makers to finalize delivery of eight million doses by March 31

Statistics Canada’s offices at Tunny’s Pasture in Ottawa are shown on Friday, March 8, 2019. Newly released documents show Statistics Canada considered delaying this year’s census until 2022 over pandemic-related concerns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Statistics Canada considered delaying this year’s census to 2022 due to pandemic

A census takes seven years between the start of planning to the release of data

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

Hamilton Forge FC’s Giuliano Frano (8) heads the ball against CD Olimpia’s Jorge Benguche (9) during Scotiabank CONCACAF League 2019 second half soccer action in Hamilton, Ont., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. Forge FC owner Bob Young says the Canadian Premier League champions will be playing the Canadian Championship final against Toronto FC at a disadvantage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Forge FC owner upset at Canada Soccer’s timing of Canadian Championship final

Winner of Canadian Championship final earns a berth in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League

Team Wild Card Two skip Kevin Koe reacts to his shot as he plays Team Newfoundland and Labrador at the Brier in Calgary, Alta., on March 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Wild Card Two’s Koe beats Gushue 9-7 to hand defending champs first loss at the Brier

Gushue was a tad heavy with his final draw and Koe picked it out for the victory

(Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No regrets: Grammy-nominated DJ Jayda G on choosing beats over sciences career

TORONTO — House music producer Jayda G knows a thing or two… Continue reading

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Prince Harry, left, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, speaking about expecting their second child during an interview with Oprah Winfrey. “Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special” airs March 7 as a two-hour exclusive primetime special on the CBS Television Network. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
UK royals absorb shock of revealing Harry, Meghan interview

Anti-monarchy group Republic said the interview gave a clearer picture of what the royal family is like

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on December 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives to call top Sajjan, Trudeau aides to testify on Vance allegations

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives plan to summon two senior Liberal aides… Continue reading

Elvira D'Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Several provinces were preparing to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, as Canada’s… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Most Read