OTTAWA – Canada says it will try to extend its territorial claims in the Arctic all the way to the North Pole, although it hasn’t yet fully mapped the area and does not have the scientific evidence to back the claim.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says scientists have been asked to do additional work following a 10-year exercise in mapping Canada’s continental shelf.
A formal scientific submission was made to the United Nations last week covering territorial claims in Atlantic, but the government says the material submitted for the Arctic Ocean is only preliminary.
Baird does not dispute reports that Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped in at the last minute to insist that the North Pole be included in the claim, even though the geological justification for the claim — the Lomonosov Ridge — has not been fully mapped by Canada.
The U.N. submissions do not lead to a binding decision but lay the groundwork for future country-to-country negotiations over competing territorial claims in the Arctic that could take many years to resolve.
In all, the Canadian claims cover 1.2 million square kilometres of ocean, an area the size of Alberta and Saskatchewan combined.