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The cold truth

Why Harper’s tough talk on Arctic sovereignty is empty


 

The cold truthIf you’re going to defend Canada’s sovereignty in the High Arctic it is almost always a good idea to do it in the summer, and not to aim too high. Even then there are no guarantees. It’s a tricky business.

Earlier this month I sat in a briefing room in Iqaluit while an assortment of Canadian navy officers explained some last-minute amendments to Operation Nanook ’09. Every summer, Op Nanook is the Forces’ premier Arctic exercise. Every summer it has more moving parts and tackles more ambitious goals. Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes this Arctic business very seriously. He has personally gone up north every summer since he was elected in 2006. He likes to say that in the quest to protect Canada’s North against various foreign marauders, the guiding principle should be “use it or lose it.” This year Op Nanook would use Canadian Forces soldiers, sailors and pilots; the Canadian Coast Guard; more than a dozen civilian ministries of the federal government; the entire federal cabinet, flown to Iqaluit for a cabinet meeting fuelled with fresh seal meat; and bewildering numbers of civilian and military public relations specialists, the better to orchestrate the Prime Minister’s assorted photo opportunities.

And it would have gone off without a hitch if it hadn’t been for the ice.

“Weather and ice has played havoc with my original intent to land the force by air and sea at BAF-3, the Northern Warning Site 120 nautical miles from Iqaluit to the northeast,” an email from Brig.-Gen. David Millar, the commander of Joint Task Force (North), informed me the day before I flew to Iqaluit.

Here’s what that meant. Military exercises are built around little scenarios. There’s an element of play-acting involved. In Op Nanook ’09 a navy frigate, HMCS Toronto, and a coast guard icebreaker, the Radisson, were to motor out of Iqaluit Bay and around the nose of Baffin Island to Brevoort Island where, they were to imagine, aerial surveillance had spotted an unmanned drone aircraft going down. Whose drone was it? Where did it land? A few dozen soldiers from an Arctic reserve company group were to land and poke around until they found the “drone” (“It’s made out of crutches, with duct tape,” one of the briefers admitted).

The point of it all was to show the world Canada’s military can work anywhere on our territory. The other point was to get better at what Millar called “tactical-integrated effect,” in which all three military services would work together and with civilians to accomplish a task.

The problem was that when the Toronto and the Radisson went out to Brevoort Island a few days early to look around, they found the waters of Davis Strait were thick with ice.

“It was bergy bits and growlers,” one sailor said: chunks of ice no bigger than a house, scrawny in iceberg circles but more than enough to end the single-hulled Toronto’s day in a hurry if things went awry. There’s just no way to predict the weather up here. “Even though we’ve got very talented met techs [meteorological technicians, or weathermen],” the sailor said, “it comes down to chicken bones and tea leaves at some point.”

Fortunately, the imagination of the Forces’ scenario planners is up to any task. Millar decided another mysterious drone had landed at Apex, a few minutes’ hike from downtown Iqaluit. The Toronto and the Radisson would go back to Iqaluit, weigh anchor, chug down Frobisher Bay for a day, turn right around and go back where they came from.

Which is precisely what happened, two days later. The reservists rose at dawn and rode in motorboats over ice-free water as smooth as marble to a beach at high tide a few paces from Iqaluit’s old Hudson’s Bay outpost. I was already onshore, watching with some officers and colleagues from an observation tent with a well-stocked snack tray.

The plan is for Op Nanook to drive further north every summer, in conditions that will be, in the jargon, successively more “austere.” Lancaster Sound in 2010. Isachsen in 2011. Alert, 2,092 km north of Iqaluit, in 2012.

I don’t want to make too much of the contrast between Op Nanook’s ambitions and its accomplishments to date. The Toronto is a fast, powerful frigate, and in two days aboard her I was pleased to meet her dedicated, fearsomely competent crew. Alex Grant, the Toronto’s commander, insists that if this had been a real emergency instead of an exercise, Belvoort Island would not have been beyond reach.

But still. For a navy that was given serious pause by bergy bits and growlers in 2009, getting to Alert in 2012 is an ambitious agenda. Another part of it has already drawn critical attention: the carefully chosen timing. “You have to move beyond being able to go up there in August,” Rob Huebert, associate director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary, told the Financial Times. One step at a time.

Why even bother? The Harper government makes a forceful, and superficially compelling, case for its extraordinary efforts in Canada’s North. First, it argues the Arctic’s days as a sleepy region where little happened are gone for good. There is vast treasure to be had in the North. Our neighbours—American, Danish, Russian—have noticed the same thing. And in the inevitable conflicts to come, Canada will have to demonstrate that our governments, our civilian agencies and our military can function up there.

Certainly there’s ample evidence the resource wealth in the North is astronomical. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the area north of the Arctic Circle has about 30 per cent of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13 per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil. The resource wealth doesn’t stop there. From nickel in northern Quebec to iron in Labrador, to a trove of diamonds that has made the Northwest Territories the world’s third-largest source of diamonds in just the last decade, the barren land and frigid water of the Arctic could potentially be the venue for a resource rush dozens of times larger than the Klondike of old. Perhaps $20 trillion, by some estimates. Fifteen times the size of Canada’s entire economy.

And, the thinking goes, it’s getting easier to get around up there, because the earth is warming. The Arctic really started to become a hot topic—it gets hard to avoid lousy puns around here—in 2004, when the Arctic Council released the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, which declared that annual average Arctic temperatures have increased almost twice as rapidly as temperatures in the rest of the world in recent decades. That means less sea ice, a longer navigation season, increased sea traffic and, perhaps, increased offshore oil and gas extraction.

So if it’s going to be easier to get around and more rewarding to try, what’s the guarantee that everyone will respect one another’s territory? There’s the source of Canada’s sovereignty concerns. And it goes right back to the early days of the Arctic as a resource bonanza. In 1968 a huge oil deposit was developed on the Alaska North Slope, leaving oil companies to decide whether to bring the crude south through a pipeline or by ship. Humble Oil sent the Manhattan, an immense tanker, for a test run through the Northwest Passage.

Here’s the rub. The United States regards the Northwest Passage as international water because it connects open sea to the west and east and is open to ship traffic. Canada regards the passage as an internal waterway. The U.S. refused to seek permission from Canada for the Manhattan’s voyage.

Rob Huebert explains what happened next in his contribution to Northern Exposure: Peoples, Powers and Prospects in Canada’s North, a valuable new collection of essays on Arctic policy from the Institute for Research on Public Policy: Canada granted permission the Americans hadn’t requested and sent a coast guard icebreaker to escort the Manhattan. Good thing, too. The Manhattan ended up needing the help.

Ever since then, the U.S., the European Union and to some extent Japan have refused to recognize Canada’s claim to regulate shipping in the Northwest Passage.

There are other areas of dispute, too. “The fact that there are so many is troubling,” Huebert writes. But then he lists them and they don’t sound so troubling. Nor, indeed, are the grey zones of Canadian sovereignty notably more numerous than those that face our Arctic neighbours, the United States, Russia and Denmark/Greenland, in a part of the world that has long been untracked and sparsely populated.

Everyone has heard of Hans Island, the rock in the strait between Greenland and Ellesmere Island, which both Canada and Denmark claim. But as Huebert admits, Hans Island is essentially worthless, both as a resource base and for its influence (zero) on the maritime boundary between the two countries. And that’s the only land dispute Canada has with any other country in the North.

What else? There’s a sliver of the Beaufort Sea off Alaska where Canada and the U.S. would draw the maritime border differently. There is indeed oil up there. But even in a warmer climate, the brutal conditions may make getting the oil “economically unfeasible,” Huebert writes. Indeed, many of the dreams of vast resource wealth in the North seem premature precisely because they’re so remote and difficult to ship or pipe back south. Wood Mackenzie, a Scottish consulting firm, retreated in late 2006 from its earlier euphoria over the scale of Arctic resource opportunity and announced that only modest windfalls could be expected, and not for decades to come. “This assessment basically calls into question the long-considered view that the Arctic represents one of the last great oil and gas frontiers,” Andrew Latham, a Wood Mackenzie executive, said.

Our list of sovereignty threats also includes the lingering suspicion that fishing boats from Greenland and the Faeroe Islands are engaged in illegal fishing for shrimp and turbot off Baffin Island. That’s a real economic and environmental problem, but the annual escapades of Operation Nanook have vanishingly little to do with it.

The only real, enduring, nagging, large-scale sovereignty concern in Canada’s quiver is over who gets to go through the Northwest Passage. And that’s the only dispute concerning the Northwest Passage. Huebert writes: “The issue of sovereignty in the passage concerns only the regulatory regime governing international shipping. Canada has a sovereign right over all living and non-living resources in the subsoil (for example, oil and gas) and the water column (fish) up to 200 miles from its coastline.”

In the same volume, Franklyn Griffiths, one of the elder statesmen of Canadian Arctic policy, writes: “We do not merely claim but have unquestioned possession of the islands, waters, seabed and subsoil of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.” Of Harper’s “use it or lose it” slogan, Griffiths writes: “The premise is misguided. The slogan should be stricken from our vocabulary. Canadians should know that they have not been, and continue not to be, informed of the realities by a succession of federal governments only too pleased to talk the talk of an imperilled Arctic sovereignty.”

That’s Harper’s tune. Some of the Prime Minister’s rhetoric on these issues has been breathtaking. And reckless. And none too bright. “The single most important duty of the federal government is to defend and protect our national sovereignty,” Harper said during the 2006 election campaign. So far, so good.

Then: “And now there are new and disturbing reports of American nuclear submarines passing through Canadian waters without obtaining the permission of—or even notifying—the Canadian government. It’s time to act to defend Canadian sovereignty.” Oh? How? “A Conservative government will make the military investments needed to secure our borders. As Prime Minister, I will make it plain to foreign governments—including the United States—that naval vessels travelling in Canadian waters will require the consent of the government of Canada.”

This is all very lusty stuff, and indeed Op Nanook this summer featured the Toronto and a Canadian sub engaged in a capacity-building game of cat and mouse at sea, after I debarked from the frigate. But Griffiths is rude enough to ask a delicate question: what happens if Canada ever detects an American sub sneaking around in waters we claim as our own—such as the Northwest Passage?

There is, to say the least, no guarantee that a court challenge would go our way, no matter how much chest-thumping we ask our soldiers and sailors to do. Huebert writes that the definition of an international strait was fixed by the International Court of Justice 60 years ago. And “even if Canada does make a tremendous effort to bolster its surveillance and enforcement capability in the Arctic, there is still no guarantee that it would win such a challenge.”

Griffiths says a court challenge would amount to “taking ourselves to court,” with the attendant implication that we could well lose. “Nor would we confine ourselves to public protest,” he writes, because “in advertising unauthorized naval activity, we would help to establish an international practice that contravened our claim.” So we can’t sue, and we can’t howl because it would amount to announcing we don’t dare sue. Which leaves, one supposes, a third option: the Canadian navy could try to scuttle a U.S. nuclear sub. Do we actually need to say out loud how insane that would be?

So to sum up: despite spending serious money to bulk up Canada’s military and civilian resources in the North, our ability to reliably project power will remain limited. The zones of international conflict are also limited, in geographic size and in the likely real-world payoff for any player, Canadian or foreign, who hopes to strike it rich there. And most important, our legal claim to be able to tell anybody else what to do in the Northwest Passage is slender at best.

What to do, then? Griffiths and Huebert suggest Canada needs to get back in the habit of co-operating with our northern neighbours instead of chest-beating. A well-regulated Northwest Passage is in American interests too, Griffiths argues, because the Obama administration won’t want terrorists or rogue states sending anything nasty through the Arctic Ocean. While “agreeing to disagree” on the fundamental question of the Northwest Passage’s legal status, Canada and the United States could work together for mutual benefit. Probably it will help if Harper stops threatening to scuttle the U.S. sub fleet.

And just in general, a lot of what the Harper government is doing in the North is beneficial. Op Nanook teaches soldiers and civilian agencies to pool resources and expertise and to improvise creatively under pressure, which can only be to the good in any future environmental disaster or search-and-rescue crisis. Harper has belatedly turned his attention to another fundamental challenge, programs that could enhance the quality of life for the Inuit and other Arctic residents. There is nothing wrong with more concerted government activity in the North.

All that’s wrong is the justification, the false fears and hopes it engenders. At the top of the world, just like anywhere else, we deserve more straight talk from our leaders.


 
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The cold truth

  1. But Griffiths is rude enough to ask a delicate question: what happens if Canada ever detects an American sub sneaking around in waters we claim as our own—such as the Northwest Passage?

    More chest thumping will undoubtedly be required and Harper might even go so far as to hang up a few "Trespassers will be glared at" signs.

    • Robert, if this happens under the present American Administration, Obama will apologize and tell you how wrong America is.

      Problem solved.

  2. Unless we're all in agreement with Mao, that power extends from the muzzle of a gun, the idea that Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic relies on the ability to control it militarily is absurd.

    Historic settlement, and social, administrative and economic infrastructure are the basis for a modern day claim. No one is threatening us militarily or otherwise, and no is questioning that Canada owns the land masses. What they are questioning is Canada's right to control the Northwest Passage and undersea mineral rights exclusively.

    That's a question for diplomacy and negotation and international legal precedents before or after anyone is crazy enough to fire on us.

    And, this threat we imagine, what are they going to do? Invade Eskimo Point? Gradually gain a foothold in Hudson Bay by capturing Saniquiliaq? They'd best read up on the works of Professor Popsicle before they decide to invade the Arctic, oh and maybe a page or two from Napoleon and Hitler about their excellent northern adventures.

  3. It seems to me it's an international waterway, like the Straight of Malacca. If Malaysia decided to shut that sucker down, there'd be a war. International commerce requires free passage. So we can't, on the one hand, trumpet how great the Northwest Passage is going to be when it finally softens up while, on the other, calling it our private property.

    That said, there are surely two issues here: the waterways and the resources. Just because a narrow ribbon of sea is an international waterway doesn't mean that our resource wealth in the North is either in jeopardy or undefendable. An international waterway in the Northwest Passage would not hurt our title to Ellsmere Island.

    Finally, and frivolously, on US subs: as Paul says, we can't start sinking foreign submarines in disputed waters without provoking an international crisis. And, as per above, I don't think we have much reason to do so. But, if we did claim the Northwest Passage as exclusively Canadian, we could install submarine nets and advertise the fact. That would be one way to advertise our sovereignty.

    • I think we could sink at least one American sub just to see if we can. If the yanks complain we'll say it was a friendly fire accident… and we're even now.

  4. Number 1 and 2 do not require any real work. Number 3, crime, was non-started to begin with but was all about adding police, tougher sentencing etc. – No mention of a 25% drop in crime or an acutal result. Number 4 – again, the PM just wrote some cheques. Number 5 – where are we on that?

    Love or hate Mike Harris and Jean Chretien, but those boys solved real-life adult problems and left the province and country better off for it (note: I did not say perfect). They also set ambitious, measureable goals and focused on achieving them.

    PM Harper simply has not demonstrated this level of substance.

  5. I agree with Toby – this will be settled in conference rooms.

    It's a bit of a pattern with the Harper or government – or at least Prime Minister Harper. The PM seems to like to measure results and focus energy behind stroke-of-the-pen policies or things that are very superficial. Have a look at the five priorities:

    – Cleaning up government by passing the Federal Accountability Act
    – Cutting the GST
    – Cracking down on crime
    – Increasing financial assistance for parents
    – Working with the provinces to establish a wait-times guarantee for patients

    ….continued….

  6. I agree with Toby – this will be settled in conference rooms.

    It's a bit of a pattern with the Harper or government – or at least Prime Minister Harper. The PM seems to like to measure results and focus energy behind stroke-of-the-pen policies or things that are very superficial. Have a look at the five priorities:

    – Cleaning up government by passing the Federal Accountability Act
    – Cutting the GST
    – Cracking down on crime
    – Increasing financial assistance for parents
    – Working with the provinces to establish a wait-times guarantee for patients

  7. The question of whether the north-west passage is an international straight or internal waters is not really relevant to the discussion about whether we should devote more attention and resources, civilian and military, to the north. The Americans don't agree that the inside passage on the West Coast consitutes internal waters. We still have an obligation to regulate and control those waters. I agree the rhetoric gets a bit overblown – but having effective miltitary and naval forces is no more "chest thumping" in the arctic than on any of our other coasts. It is simply part of the responsibility of the government. (I doubt the navy will object to Mr. Well's article – they do, after all, know what limited tools they have to work with at the moment).

  8. Canada could sink a US sub with no problems. Years of building our reputation as meek, polite, peace-keepers assures this.

    After all, 90% of America wouldn't believe it happened in the first place, and of those who did, about half would think it was probably deserved and the other half wouldn't know where we are anyway.

    • I'm an American. Remember my country is the one with a government that has convinced people to be afraid of armed guerrillas in south American rain forests, ICBMs from Iran and North Korea, and most recently Burma. We spend roughly as much on defense as the rest of the world combined and are frightened that China has announced they will build one aircraft carrier sometime in the next decade, just 11 more and they will have as many as us (and that's are just our big carriers).

      Don't make the mistake of provoking us, not because we don't like you — we do, because we can be convinced to invade anything if there is even a chance it might one day possibly have the potential to become a 'threat' to us. Oh, and we do have maps big enough to find and invade Grenada, your country has strip mines bigger than that country.

      • Invade? Didn't you try that once or twice already? How'd that work out for you?

    • Canada could sink a US sub with no problems

      Well, I get that the point your making is that there wouldn't be any repercussions to our sinking of a U.S. sub (and more importantly also that you're tongue is planted firmly in cheek) however, there's one very big problem with the idea of Canada sinking a U.S. sub. ACTUALLY SINKING THE SUB. I have great confidence in our navy, so I'd bet they could do it (if a properly equipped ship/ships intercepted the sub in the first place), but I highly doubt said sub would go down without taking some Canucks with them.

      Plus, whatever 90% of Americans may know or think, that's not the problem. The problem is the tiny number of Americans actually on the line at a U.S. Naval base when the distress call comes in from an American nuclear sub that they're under attack!!!

      • What's scary is how many here seem to think I was serious.

    • The US could drop Nukes on Toronto and Montreal, and we still wouldn't care.

    • Speaking for the Americans again aren't you, amazing how much insight you have into 300,000,000 yanks!!!!!!!!!!!! Unless you want to sink a US sub with dead harp seals good luck, you pathetic 'row boat' navy will be sitting on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean and then you can open it up as a tourist attraction. Get real you DONT HAVE ANY ARCTIC influence, no navy just a couple of old rust buckets.
      First thing that you might do is 'look in the mirror' and see just how weak and irrelevant you really have become.

      • Charming

    • You're dreaming.

      Also, were Canada to even fire a shot in anger at a US military asset there would be hell to pay, and rightly so.

  9. Clearly Canada needs a new set of resources if we are going to be effective stewards of the north. I agree that the fixation on guns that go boom is a little absurd, however we do need the capacity to rescue, assist, mitigate environmental issues, enforce reasonable regulations, coordinate traffic. There also may well be an opportunity to economically benefit from the passing ships (selling little maple leaf bottles full of syrup?) We need to be the technology leaders in northern-adapted technologies rather than having to beg, borrow and loan from others.

    For the subs, there is a better, more elegant solution than nets. (Fishing for subs is like fishing for eels, it get icky when you catch one) Understanding marine wildlife in the straight and mitigating the impact of increased ship traffic on that wildlife is an important component of our responsibility. Neptune Canada is an underwater observatory being constructed off the west coast.

    http://www.neptunecanada.com/

    in their own words

    We're building the world's first regional-scale underwater ocean observatory that plugs directly into the Internet. People everywhere will be able to ‘surf the seafloor,' and ocean scientists will be able to run deep-water experiments from labs and universities anywhere around the world.

    So instead of keeping the Americans and Russians out, we just let everyone watch them on the internet.
    Cost: about $150 million, way less than one icebreaker.

  10. The best evidence we have right now says that the resources up there won't be economically viable soon, but who knows what will happen in ten years, twenty even? Simply put, the military needs just about that much lead time to be ready for operations in extreme theatres like the north. Especially the navy which gets new ships about once a generation lately, if we don't start talking and designing military icebreakers and better subs now it's unlikely we'll have them in 20 years or even 30. But it's okay we can just buy second hand gear…right?
    So surmize, yes it might be misguided bluster, but if it's backed up with funding to expand our operations up there and we end up needing it in a decade, Harper is going to look like a genius, instead of the blowhard he appears to be.

    • You are right about the planning horizon needed for these measures. Even the quite modest increases in our naval, military and Coast Guard resources are going to take years – but that coincides with the relatively slow commercial opening of the arctic that can be expected.

      But it is a bit unfair to heap abuse on the PM simply because his rhetoric sounds a bit over-heated or over-simplistic. Modest as the new resources are going to be, they still entail major expenditures and require a change in government and political focus. That requires public support and, unfortunately, the public tends not to listen to subtle, carefully nuanced and balanced explanations of government priorities. An issue that is important, but doesn't appear either urgent or simple, will always lose out to one that is current and easily explained. The PM, I think, understands the long-term importance of the issues developing in the arctic and is using language calculated to start developing a public concensus. It may sound like "bluster", but I think it is more accurately, an attempt to encapsulate complicated issues in a manner that people will listen to.

      • Why do you think words like investment, infrastructure, transportation would not lead to consensus? While the military capabilities have some importance, policing/regulation are more important, but most important will be access for private sector companies and civilians.

        I agree with the focus Harper has put on the North, but the endgame has to be developing a vital economic engine in an environmentally responsible fashion, planned with the involvement of the local population. That means in the end-game, if we are successful, we will have flourishing trading partnership with the northern developments of the Americans, Russians etc. So in and of itself, the miltary buys us nothing. It may be essential to keep from being bullied around, but we had better start on the other stuff now as well.

        • Well, because people will go to sleep and, as I said, if you want to invest largish amounts of public money in an area that hasn't seemed to be a priority for anyone before (and we, as a nation have happily ignored the arctic for the most part) you have to get people's attention in a way that matters to them. People are largely willing to be moved by patriotism and calls for demonstrations of our sovereignty. Even if the issues are a bit more complex and layered than a five-second sound bite will allow, that's all the PM will get on the news.

          • Far enough… I disagree but fair enough. Still could he not bury some of the other nuggets in some interview, statement etc to help ease the minds of those of use that care?

          • Well, I'd say he has. A number, in fact most, of the public events in the recent northern tour were devoted to talking about projects for infrastructure and economic development. They don't get as much press as pictures of CF-18s or the PM in flight gear, but he spent as much time on those issues as on military ones. But its hard, as I said, to get that message out in the five seconds the press allows for the evening news clip (Not that it would be easy for them to find a way to explain some of these issues without a mass switching of channels to Project Runway.

      • I don't think it's unfair at all. It's called skepticism, and I'm not going to give it up any time soon. Harper has yet to show me that the bluster (I'm using it again because it's the right word) is going to be backed up with actual money and support. Until that time comes, I'm going to remain skeptical, the same way I am when any prime minister promises ships and then goes silent later. If harper is serious and in 20 years these ships and this northern focus become vital to our interests, we'll look back on him as a Statesman. but until there is something more tangible than funding announcements, he's a politician, and theyre good at making bluster look like action.

        • Skepticism may be called for anyway, it does help to have a healthy dose, but I think the PM is actually sincere in his belief the North does need more attention than we have traditionally given it. Yes, there is always a gap between funding announcements and delivery, but it does seem that there is an intention to use the naval and Coast Guard requirements over the next twenty years as the basis for a rational ship-building program, something we haven't had since, well, never.

          As for the AOP ships, I gather they have progressed to model testing, which is pretty far along the project definition continuum. For a defence project in Canada that's blinding speed. Which is a sad comment itself, of course.

  11. it should be stated that it is very unlikely any country, the US or others, would try to run a submarine through the north west passage itself. Those are fairly shallow and constricted waters, and not a place most submariners would want to go anyway (there are faster routes from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
    But t if they did, we could learn from the Swedes who had some fairly routine experience of Russian submarines entering their waters in the seventies and eighties. The never, as far as we know, actually sank one of them (can you "sink" an already submerged vessel?) The did drop depth charges on them and gave them, no doubt a severe headache.

  12. Continued – A carefully nuanced speech on the need for multi-generational investments in infrastructure, education, aids to navigation and other essentials would get exactly zero press coverage or public interest. Now that he has our attention he can also talk about those issues – as he did on this recent trip. He could make all those announcements via press release in Ottawa as well, but would the press cover it if he wasn't standing on the shore at Pangnirtung?
    I think the overall approach is much less militarized than anyone gives the government credit for – not that there aren't many essential investments to be made in the naval/military side of the equation.

  13. …Number 1 and 2 do not require any real work. Number 3, crime, was all about adding police, tougher sentencing etc. – No mention of targeting a specific% drop in crime or an actual result. Number 4 – again, the PM just wrote some cheques. Number 5 – where are we on that?

    Love or hate Mike Harris and Jean Chretien, but those boys solved real-life adult problems and left my province and country better off for it (note: I did not say perfect). They also did exactly what they said they were going to.

    PM Harper simply has not demonstrated this level of substance.

  14. Gosh, you canucks are so superior to us ignorant yanks. I stand in awe. I'm relieved to know that we are protected on our northern border. Now I can sleep at night.

    • You're welcome.

  15. Also, I apologize to all Canadians that President Obama didn't make it to Canada on his apology tour to apologize for what rotten neighbors we have been all these years.

  16. Congratulations to you Canadians for a good, objective, considered discussion. Enjoyed it. Sadly it only took one "ignorant yank" to get on and start slinging the doo-doo. What a wonderful bunch of folks we are.

    • Oh well, there are mutton-heads all over and the internet seems to attract more than its usual share. I assure you we don't think all Yanks are ignorant.

  17. i would love to see a canadian old dated navy try and challeng our navy power and projection canada would lose its naval force in less then 2 days tops canadians are so dumb.

    • Ahhh…. how to win friends and influence people…. didn`t Iraq teach you anything?

  18. one american nuclear sub would would sink the whole entire western naval fleet canada which is made of a bunch of 30 yr old out dated ships that in america would be in scrap or used to build coffins with.
    please. stop dreaming.

    • Sounds like good, sensible foreign policy Joe. Time to assemble the coalition of the willing and kick some butt.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ships_of_the

      Our three destroyers are about 40 year old, but then most of our frigates and coastal defense vehicles are no more than 15 years old.

      Maybe you'd like to support your argument with another uninformed statement.

  19. Again,
    I,ve said for a while Canada has vast areas where white men have not even yet set foot. There are minerals, oil , diamonds etc. With all the immigration we have why not make it a stipulation that immigrants MUST settle in the north and develop and explore the North lands as did our ancestors the French , Irish, British, Chinese developed lower Canada with farms , lumber, railroads and built roads to acsess such . We have overcrowded cities with unemployment rampant , and as a result too much crime . Give all existing Canadians a chance to go there first but it must be a stipulation for any immigrant to come to Canada. We could utilize Doctors and [ God help us ] Lawyers and all Tradespeople and labourers, Armed Forces , Law Enforcement, Fire Departments and every job there is. Not to mention the sales opportunities for heavy equipment manufacturers like Catterpillar[or their Canadian competitors] right down to companies who make chainsaws and the best boost IS THE STEEL INDUSTRY Everthing we build or use to build needs STEEL.Buildings , bridges , pipelines , culverts, siding EVERYTHING.
    Why keep putting the burden on our already over populated cities.I know there are people who have immigrated to Canada and cant get work in their respective trades even Doctors for gosh sakes , well here is the chance. maybe even put a time limit of 5 years and I,ll bet there,s a line up to get at all the advantages Canada has to offer.

    • That won't fly with the Unions… and boy do I not want immigrants to take up our jobs which requires higher educations than their country provides. I've seen one too many Indian who holds a diploma in Business from a roofless University in India quoting me at length some Nash. "I'm sorry but I saw 'A Beautiful Mind' and I have to say that…"

  20. Canada may be undisputed owner of Arctic resources (sea and sub-soil) but this will last only as long as there is no significant profit to be made from said resources.

    History shows that undisputed legal rights get trampled if the owner can't defend them. Hence, "use it or lose it" is an understatement, not an overstatement.

  21. Canada may be undisputed owner of Arctic resources (sea and sub-soil) but this will last only as long as there is no significant profit to be made from said resources.

    History shows that undisputed legal rights invariably get trampled if the owner (or the owner's friends) can't defend them. Hence, "use it or lose it" is an understatement, not an overstatement.

    • Not really, ownership this has absolutely nothing to do with defense (unless you live in a backwater third world country that no one care about). You claim ownership of a territory by living on the said territory.
      For example, Canada could have zero soldiers, zero tanks, nothing and no one could claim that the Sudbury nickel mine don't belong to Canadians simply because there is a local population that is living around there.
      Another example, Denmark.establish a colony (no gun or anything military) on the Hans island, and claim to own the place. What exactly Canada can do? Shoot them, blow them up, round them up and deport them? No, we lose and the issue is resolved. That's the true meaning of use it or lose it.

  22. Now I know the reason why. I though it's just a prospect or a certain rumor. Thanks for sharing your point.

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