Thursday, January 26, 2006

Canadian sovereignty over the arctic

Curt words are being exchanged between Stephen Harper and David Wilkins, the American ambassador, over the Arctic. The CBC reports.

Harper is planning to spend $5 billion over the next five years to defend Canada's sovereignty over portion of the arctic with military ice-breaker vessels.

Wilkins response:

"There's no reason to create a problem that doesn't exist."

"We don't recognize Canada's claims to those waters... Most other countries do not recognize their claim."

Harper's stance:
"The United States defends its sovereignty and the Canadian government will defend our sovereignty,"

I'd like to know what people think about this. Is Canadian sovereignty over the arctic important? Why is it worth 5 billion? How ought we to understand Canadian sovereignty?


Anonymous said...

Canadian sovereignty is critically important. In principle, we cannot let repeated trespasses slip by noticed and unaddressed. This sets a dangerous precendent for further infrigements by foreign powers.

In practicality, we need to assert our borders in the far north as global warming (which the Bush administration denies - what ostritches...) opens those waters and cuts east/west shipping times drastically.

Jonathan said...

Great questions. Harper is scoring some points here by his answers.

As for your questions....I don't know if it is worth 5 billion. But then again, it may be. There is speculation that there is much oil in the north. If it is true, 5 billion will look small in comparison to what can be gained.

Furthermore, the area has strategic value to it. Think about when Russia bought Alaska. Can you imagine Alaska being Russian during the cold war? Yikes. Canada caught in the middle!

Anonymous said...

within ten to fifty years, canada's north will be the next saudi arabia, so rich with oil and resources that it will be sought after by virtually all nations.

currently, zero Canadian infrastracture exists to support, defend or even lay claim to this area. since the 60s, foreign subs have been regularly spotted lurking in the waters, taking passage without authorization.

it is Canada's north that grants us its status as the second-largest country in the world.

while it may be viewed as wasteland, it's certainly much more than that. it's part of our identity, and perhaps more importantly, the key to our future. The nation's fresh water supplies and the north's opening oil resources will position Canada to be a major player in the coming years.

financially, patriotically, pragmatically and otherwise, defending the north is a good idea. Harper's on the right track.

- simian.

Anonymous said...

And another natural resource - water.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a co-ordinated public relations campaign between Harper and the Bush administration. I suspect what is happening is that they are co-ordinating statements to make it seem like Harper is defending Canadian sovereignty and opposing Bush in order to win points with people who are suspicious of his motives. I would fully expect that if Harper obtains a majority government in the next election he will "negotiate" an agreement with the Bush administration giving shared control of the north so as to serve his US/Alberta oil industry base.

McGroarty said...

From --

"But really! Over a bunch of ice floes on the sub-zero ass-end of nowhere? Harper, an ex-libertarian, isn’t that stupid. Anybody who can’t hear the wink-wink-nudge-nudge in Harper’s parody of territorial posturing is tone-deaf.

"Harper is doing something much deeper and funnier here. He’s catching the Left in a trap. If they want to join him in his anti-Bush polemic, they’re going to have to stand behind the principles of — national sovereignity? Patriotism? Rendered idiots by their hatred, many of them will probably take the bait

DammitRed said...

It is a Big Bluff at This point. designed to get the public on his side.
It may worth a lot .. but even if we can "patrol' the area what is then . shot anyone who might be there . ??
the Dispute should be resolved by International tribunals .or what ever the way.Not by GUNS.
The USA will have be the first one to get our permission on that waterway..
it is about the Nortwest Passage for increasing the the thing of the future we don't need guns for this.
Exploring the area for resources ..?? are there out some definition already how this can be done?I mean where are our ACTUAL limits today where we can explore for oil..
this is nothing new . rigs are out on the ocean there is some regulation for that..
all in All it is a Pat- pat -patriotic Bluff as is now.And after years it will be solved with diplomacy.

kertl said...

I cant believe some of these comments. If it is part of Canada, then we HAVE to defend it - period. Isn't it simple enough just to say that we have left it unprotected long enough? For heavens sake its our country, and whoever thinks that it is useless subzero land doesnt know a thing about natural resources and oil. The US have had plans for years to capitalize on our northern lands and this is just the first step in a long plan to eventually take it over. We must stand up for this land as best we can and now - even if we can't "properly" defend it we can give it our best - is this too much to ask? In the end if we can't simply show ourselves that it can be defended we might as well give it all away now because someone will take it eventually.

Anonymous said...

It's simple... Install the listening grid and anytime a sub-marine enters our waters (WITHOUT prior approval) will have its class and heading published for all to see.

Gooch said...

Like simian said, water and oil. That's what it's about.

To the Liberals, asserting sovereignty is bad-mouthing the Americans while letting the Americans do their dirty work for them all around the world.

Canada needs a much stronger military to be taken seriously.