As more than 1,400 Canadian military personnel head to the Hawaiian Islands to participate in the world's largest multinational military exercise, Defence Minister Peter MacKay has signalled a growing Canadian presence - both military and otherwise - in the Asia Pacific.
"It makes perfect sense we would increase our presence there," MacKay told QMI Agency. "We have commercial ties in Asia Pacific - an economic powerhouse - and we have to improve our trade presence and relationships there. So, while this is a military exercise, it also allows us to have face time with some of those major trading partners."
U.S. President Barack Obama has made clear his intentions of redistributing military personnel from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast. MacKay said Canada would be following in the footsteps of its closest ally.
Canada is belatedly trying establish bilateral trade agreements with Asian countries, not least with China, which has been expanding its naval presence along the Pacific Rim recently.
"So much of the activity in the coming years - commercial and otherwise - we know will take place in Asia Pacific," MacKay said. "Our increased presence there is a recognition of reality."