By THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is flying to China on Monday, adding to the long list of countries he has visited since winning last year’s federal election. Yet there’s one place closer to home that Trudeau hasn’t set foot in since forming a government: Canada’s far north.
Officials maintain that despite the lack of a prime ministerial visit, the Arctic remains one of the government’s top priorities. But opposition critics and experts say the Liberals have been noticeably absent when it comes to Canada’s northern reaches.
The Canadian Forces launched its annual Arctic exercise, Operation Nanook, last week. In this year’s iteration, hundreds of soldiers are helping respond to a simulated earthquake in the Yukon while hundreds more scour Nunavut with the help of ships and aircraft to retrieve a lost object.
The Arctic trips were a highlight of Harper’s annual calendar, and while they were often derided as glorified photo opportunities, experts say they were important for sending a signal to other countries and drawing rare public — and government — attention to the region.
Trudeau’s office would not say when the prime minister plans to visit or tour the Arctic. However, they confirmed he has not visited since the federal election, and that he will not attend the current military exercise.