Time’s almost up

There’s a report in the National Post that says that “A report to Congress by the U.S. Department of Defense appears to call for American ships to challenge Canadian claims in the Arctic … [it says that] … The Department of Defense “will preserve the global mobility of U.S. imagesmilitary and civilian vessels and aircraft throughout the Arctic, as in other regions,” reads the Report to Congress on Strategy to Protect United States National Security Interests in the Arctic Region, dated December 2016 … [and] … “This includes conducting Freedom of Navigation operations to challenge excessive maritime claims when and where necessary” … [and, further] … The United States has three active marine disputes with Canada in the Arctic, including over 21,440 square kilometres in the Beaufort Sea and two smaller areas of the Dixon Passage, between British Columbia and Alaska.

The article says that “While the 17-page policy presentation doesn’t state whose “excessive maritime claims” the United States would seek to challenge, it’s a small club of nations jostling to stake their claims in the warming Arctic … “One would think Russia and Canada are the two countries they are concerned about,” said David VanderZwaag, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax and the Canada Research Chair in Ocean Law and Governance … [and, he added] … “I think they are looking generally at protecting freedom of navigation in the Arctic.”

Now, I have defended the Americans when they defend “freedom of navigation” in the South China Seas and, in fact, I have argued that we should share some of that burden, because I agree that the right of “innocent passage” is vital for free and peaceful trade and commerce for everyone. Thus I must also respect America’s right to “innocent passage” through waters we claim as out own.  But, that doesn’t mean that we should, in any way at all, not claim and assert our sovereignty over those waters.

To do that, to assert sovereignty, we must have CCGS_John_G._Diefenbaker_conceptual_rendering_570_ships and aircraft and sensors and shore stations in the Artic wherever and whenever navigation or intrusion are possible … no exceptions, no excuses. It cannot be too hard or too expensive. The US is moving forward with plans to build three new heavy icebreakers. Canada needs more than just one new icebreaker and a few of the new Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships … we need a bigger, better Coast Guard and a proper and properly armed constabulary fleet (preferably in a revitalized RCMP Marine Division  rather than in the Royal Canadian Navy)AOPS-ice and at least one  Northern base in Nanisivik that can refuel ships and support large, modern combat aircraft, too … that will all cost a whole lot more money than the Trudeau regime ever dreamed of spending on anything except climate change and photo ops.

The time for photo-ops and a learning curve has come and gone. Canada is being challenged; we, Canadians, should expect our government to respond.

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