WHY ARCTIC SOVEREIGNTY IS IMPORTANT
Welcome to Canada, the biggest country on the planet. Since the breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Canada has moved from being the second biggest country in the world to its largest. It isn’t some backwater country in a desolate corner of the globe, either. It is among the wealthiest on earth in terms of natural resources.
When you consider our uranium deposits, our gold mines, nickel, massive oil reserves, natural gas supplies, as well as lumber, water, wheat, and more natural resources than I can list here, you may get just a small idea of the value of our piece of real estate.
With the advent of a natural global warming trend that is occurring in the Arctic region, there is also a possibility that there may soon be an alternative shipping route around North America through Canadian waters. A shipping route that some say will shave 4,000 miles off of shipping distances.
What will that be worth? How about billions of dollars. I am sure that it is with this in mind that some nations, including the United States, are now trying to assert that should the Northwest Passage become ice free, it will simply provide another international public shipping route. The Americans are citing their reasoning on the 12 mile limit that applies to a country’s claim to territorial water.
However, when one looks at the body of water named the Northwest Passage, there is hardly room to maneuver within a 12 mile constraint when one factors in the thousands of islands that dot it, the one’s which are every bit as much Canadian territory as Maui is to the Americans.
If the Americans are so sure that our northern border should be international waters, perhaps they could try and test that theory over China or Russia. Then, they could let us know how they make out. The Northeast Passage, a shipping corridor over the northern coast of Russia, is maintained by Russian icebreakers and Russian ports.
Stephen Harper, Canada’s newest prime minister elect, has started off his tenure with a resounding claim to our arctic sovereignty. In a move that is intended to dispel any lingering doubts as to whether he will stand up for Canada as his campaign slogan suggested, Mr. Harper is using this latest international dispute as yet another reason to rebuild our floundering naval capabilities, which at present resemble something one would expect to find in a have-not country.
If Canada wishes to continue to have sovereignty over land masses that others are now trying to wrestle away from her, she had better begin to take the threats seriously, and it appears that she is, finally. We have been down this road before, but after 20 years, it isn’t something that many people try to remember. On September 10, 1985, Prime Minister Joe Clark also promised new ice breakers and surveillance to aid Canada in asserting its territorial claims to the Arctic regions above it. We must ensure that this time, we do what is needed.
There is much at stake here besides what urban Canadians refer to as ‘a bunch of ice.’ The north country is some of the most precious natural beauty in the world, as well as a store house of resources. More than all of that, it is our northern border and has been regarded as such for generations. It will only stay that way if we assert our right to it and back up our claim with more than rhetoric.
To the rest of the world: “Our borders are not open for negotiation. Period.”