Harjit Sajjan praises quick response to airline bomb threats
Defence minister tells Halifax forum 'we need to trust in our security forces'
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the quick response of officials in Canada to several bomb threats that caused three planes to be searched in Halifax this week shows how well the country and its partners are able to respond to emerging security incidents.
Speaking in Halifax at the conclusion of a three-day international security conference, Sajjan said despite the geographic separation between Canada and recent militant targets overseas, Canadians need to remain vigilant in the face of such threats.
"We need to trust in our security forces, from the police all the way to the military, and trust in our system to be able to manage the level of threats, as we're doing that on a daily basis," he said.
Finding the connections between terrorism, criminality and social issues will be crucial to staying ahead of threats and addressing them, he said.
"How we connect those dots is going to be key," Sajjan said. "And get better at finding the indicators early on so we can deal with the threat when it's at its infancy. That's how we're going to be able to move forward. And Canada is very good at that."
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The comments come after Sajjan addressed issues like Canada's aerial bombing mission against ISIS and the country's plan to accept thousands of Syrian refugees earlier in the weekend.
On Friday, Sajjan reaffirmed the government's commitment to bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the new year. He met U.S. officials on Saturday to compare and discuss policies.
U.S. senators attending said they should be able to work out a strategy with Canada as the new Liberal government moves forward with plans to halt aerial bombing of ISIS in the Mideast.
Top security officials from around the world, including military, government and business leaders, spent the weekend in the city attending the Halifax International Security Forum.
The annual conference usually covers a broad range of international conflicts. This year, with nearly 300 delegates from at least 60 countries discussing global security issues, the topics are focused on the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Syrian refugee crisis.
ISIS airstrikes raised again
Once again on Sunday, Sajjan faced questions about Canada's decision to withdraw from anti-ISIS airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
Sajjan said history has shown that it's not the number of troops that determine success in international conflicts, it's the impact on the ground. He repeated that Canada's focus now needs to be on training.
"Security threats can also be dealt with in different ways. That does not mean you do not stop the fight. We are going to be taking the fight to ISIS. And how we do it, we work as part of a team. We do not work alone," he said.
Calling the discussions during the conference a "starting point," Sajjan said the conversation will continue in meetings with NATO and coalition partners going forward.
He kicked off the final day of the conference by leading a five-kilometre run early Sunday morning.
The conference is Sajjan's first major public event as defence minister.