Where are we? (5)

I have been worrying about Canada’s sovereignty over the Arctic for some years now. Now I see a report by Levon Sevunts of RCI (Radio Canada International) which says that nw-passage2019 marked a busy shipping season in the Canadian Arctic with 27 ships making a full transit through the Northwest Passage, according to statistics released by the Canadian Coast Guard … [and] … this year saw a marked increase in commercial traffic through the passage … [because] … Five general cargo ships and five passenger ships made a full transit through the Northwest Passage, a series of routes snaking through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago between the Baffin Bay in the east and the Beaufort Sea in the west.

Now, five freighters and five more passenger ships may not seem like a lot, but it means that the Northwest Passage, which Canada claims as its own territorial waters,* is open for business. If Canada is serious about its claims to sovereignty then it needs to have an official presence in the Northwest Passage.

EKAHejFWwAEaRToThankfully, the first of Canada’s new Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS), HMCS Harry DeWolf, will likely be delivered late this year or in 2020 and might be in full service before the 2021 shipping season begins. She is in the water, now, undergoing builder’s sea trials. Despite my firmly held view that the AOPS should belong to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police rather than the Royal Canadian Navy because they are “constabulary” ships, not warships, they will be a welcome addition to Canada’s sovereignty assertion and Cover-Photo-2protection efforts. In the meantime, our 25-year-old spunky little Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels, which can now refuel at Nanisivik,  have proven their worth in High Arctic waters when the Northwest Passage is navigable. Additionally, our ageing CF-18 Hornet fighters and downright ancient CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft can, at least, fly over the Northwest Passage.

canada-population-line-mapCanada is a vast country with the longest coastline in the world. But almost all of us live in a narrow strip of land that hugs our Southern border. As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, fully ½ of Canadians live in a tiny slice of the country in far Southern Ontario and Québec. Only a few hundred thousand of our 35+ million fellow citizens live in the remote regions and only a few thousand of them along the Arctic coast. But the Arctic coast and the Northwest Passage are rich in resources and, now, are beginning to see significant foreign intrusion.

China has released an ‘Arctic White Paper‘ which describes a ‘Polar Silk Road‘ and there are reports that China has awarded a contract to build a nuclear-powered icebreaker. CCGS_John_G._Diefenbaker_conceptual_rendering_570_Russia has launched the third of a family of modern nuclear-powered icebreakers to add to the eight already built. The USA has just issued a contract for a new heavy polar icebreaker. Meanwhile, the Government of Canada cannot decide even where, much less when, the Coast Guard’s much needed John G Diefenbaker will be built and there is not even any discussion about submarines that can operate under the ice or new long-range patrol aircraft.

If the Trudeau regime is right, if global climate change will open the Arctic, then Canada is in trouble. If we are serious about our sovereignty ~ something I wouldn’t bet on with the current, Liberal government ~ then we need to stop spending money on solar farms for Angolans and Zambians and start spending it on icebreakers for the Coast Guard, AOPS for the RCMP, under-ice capable submarines for the Navy and modern long-range patrol aircraft for the RCAF.


* But our claim is disputed by others, most notably by the United States.


Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

2 thoughts on “Where are we? (5)

  1. The very Northern Regions of Canada are remote, rugged, and with very limited access for the majority of Canadians. The Arctic has a natural beauty that is difficult / impossible to describe with images or the written word. You truly have to experience the Arctic in person to appreciate how unique and irreplaceable the Canadian Arctic may be. With the majority of the Canadian adult population residing within 300 km of the United States border how engaged are Canadians about the issues concerning territory 3000 km distant? Are Canadians more informed about their favourite vacation spots, Arizona / Florida, than about this remote part of our country? Do Canadians believe that the Arctic is important to Canada and if so why? As taxpayers are Canadians willing to spend the funds necessary to assert sovereignty in the Arctic? Will a significant number of Canadians ever visit the Arctic, to decide for themselves if this remote land is worth the time and tax revenue to preserve as part of Canada?

    Considering that the recent Federal election contained very little discussion on the issue of Arctic Sovereignty are Canadians left with the following questions? Is our current Federal Government serious about the issue of Canadian Sovereignty in the Arctic, before we pass the point of no return? Is the current Federal Government more enthused about issues, such as securing a seat at the United Nations security council, than pressing issues in our own territory? Is there a blueprint for moving foreward, in a realistic timeframe, on the potentially very time sensitive issue of Arctic Sovereignty? Is there the political will to spend the funds necessary to implement this blueprint? Will the Federal Government continue to ‘paper over’ this potentially critical issue with policy statements and posturing?

    Currently three of the World superpowers, the United States, Russia, and China, have serious aspirations for the Arctic Ocean. Including the waterways, and potentially landmass, claimed by Canada. Theses countries have, or are formulating, a clear understanding of what they hope to gain from the Arctic. They have a realistic blueprint, although somewhat secret, on how to achieve their objectives. They are prepared to spend the funds required to move foreward with their desired goals. Depending on the success of achieving the original objectives the end goals may expand to include even more of what is potentially up for grabs.

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