Ottawa: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper flew a military helicopter around an iceberg, sailed a warship, and dove in a Navy submarine, heralding his country`s claim to the resource-rich Arctic.
On day three of a five-day visit to the far north, Harper took part in a military exercise trumpeting Canada`s sovereignty over a large Arctic tract east of Baffin Island, where Russian and US submarines are said to prowl.
"With other countries probing our north by sea and in the air, the work you are doing here to protect our sovereignty has never been more important," Harper told sailors on the deck of HMCS Toronto yesterday.
"Protecting national sovereignty, the integrity of our borders, is the first and foremost responsibility of a national government," he said.
Later, Harper zipped across Frobisher Bay to the submarine HMCS Corner Brook and took its controls as it slipped beneath the icy waters for a 30-minute trip.
His office said he took the controls of a large Sea King helicopter as it flew past an iceberg, and briefly steered the warship HMCS Toronto.
Five countries bordering the Arctic -- Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States -- claim overlapping parts of the Arctic, which is estimated to hold 90 billion
untapped barrels of oil.