Stephen Harper heads to the Arctic - Macleans.ca

Stephen Harper heads to the Arctic

Canada looks at its northern communities for a few days

by

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Every summer, for a few days, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spends a few days in Canada’s northern territories (and the Arctic tip of Quebec, too). The prime minister’s annual trip, now in its seventh year, is a tradition. He tends to score a photo op where he looks super cool—riding an all-terrain vehicle, or wearing a cool pair of shades, or sitting in a fighter jet—and, after checking in with assembled dignitaries, military folks and crowds of supporters, waxes optimistic about why the north is so integral to Canada’s future as a prosperous nation. Indeed, Goin’ Up North Week is an annual reminder to all us southern folks that the north still exists.

Harper’s sojourn, this time around, is turning into something notable. The Toronto Star‘s Tonda MacCharles and Postmedia’s Michael Den Tandt both reveal just how little this trip is dressed up in overt patriotism and talk of Arctic sovereignty and the “true north, strong and free.” This year, economic development is the name of the game. MacCharles recalls that plans for a deep-sea Arctic port, powerful icebreakers and a military training centre have all been delayed or massaged into less ambitious projects. That leaves the jobs and skills themes, which the government already rhymes off in every other Canadian region without blinking.

Harper’s goal, argues Den Tandt, is to push skills training in the north, exploit the natural resources that can create jobs and prosperity, and “argue that his model of economic development can work—not just for the country as a whole, but for its most disadvantaged citizens.” All of which is a fair play for votes, but it assumes that, after Goin’ Up North Week wraps up for another year, any voters outside of Whitehorse or Yellowknife or Iqaluit actually watch what’s happening to those disadvantaged citizens in those potential-filled northern communities. Outside of the prime minister’s annual trip, few people look in that direction.


What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s focus on jobs for northerners as he launches his annual summer trip to Canada’s north. The National Post (online) fronts Harper’s search for a legacy in Canada’s north. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with continued standoffs between the Egyptian government and pro-Morsi supporters. The Ottawa Citizen leads with Canada’s tenuous participation in a computer programming facility for the F-35 fighter jet, which the country’s air force may not purchase. iPolitics fronts a Senate committee’s pending report on safe transport of hydrocarbons in Canada. CBC.ca leads with Harper’s attack on opposition parties at a Yukon stop on his northern tour. CTV News leads with former South African track star Oscar Pistorius’ indictment for murder. National Newswatch showcases a Hill Times story about Prime Minister’s Office chief of staff Ray Novak, who’s apparently attempting to repair frayed relations with the Conservative caucus.


Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Seniors. Most Canadians want a national plan for seniors care, including a plan to keep older Canadians in their own homes as long as possible, says an Ipsos Reid survey. 2. Justice. Canada’s correctional ombudsman recommends that Omar Khadr, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee, should be held at a facility with a lower security level.
3. Rapist. Selva Kumar Subbiah, a serial rapist who was serving time at a maximum-security facility in Kingston, Ont., was transferred to a lower level prison—for reasons that are unclear. 4. Target. A survey of consumers suggests that retailer Target, which entered the Canadian market in March, has fallen behind Wal-Mart and Costco thanks to lack of inventory and high prices.
5. Egypt. Two Canadians, an ER doctor and a York University professor, were apparently arrested in Egypt without cause. They were on the way to a hospital in the Gaza Strip. 6. Kashmir. An eight-year-old attempt at promoting trade between Pakistanis and Indians across disputed Kashmir lands has stalled amid concerns that the area will again be militarized.