Defence Minister Peter Mackay
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
"We have to be there in quality and quantity in the coming years," MacKay told QMI Agency during a call from the Canadian embassy in the United States, following meetings with his American counterpart.
He met with U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta to discuss several issues, including Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, and a defence ministers' summit next month in Uruguay.
MacKay says a lot of the conversation revolved around Canada being able to "up its game" in the Asia-Pacific region, through more military exchanges, training, and face-to-face meetings.
"I would mention maritime security as something in which we have established some military acumen over the years," MacKay added, noting that Canada can help fight piracy, human smuggling, as well as trafficking in drugs and people.
He says China's tensions with its neighbours, North Korea's nuclear threat, Islamism in Indonesia, and "the regional tensions that exist even between South Korea and Japan" are all reasons for the Canadian forces to be more involved in the region.
While in Washington, MacKay also accepted the Dr. William J. Perry Award from the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies to recognize Canadian efforts to improve defence co-operation in the western hemisphere.
The minister says he accepted the award on behalf of all Canadian defence personnel.
"It's a recognition of what we've been able to accomplish in places like Afghanistan (and) humanitarian missions, like in Haiti," said MacKay. "Clearly, Libya figures prominently in the list of accomplishments."