For years, Canada has taken its control of the vast northern region mostly for granted. But with the melting of polar ice providing new access for shipping, the government is anxious about possible territorial rivalries, not just with Denmark, but also with Norway, Russia and the United States.

The melting ice, which is being attributed to global warming, could even open the legendary North-West Passage, linking the Atlantic and the Pacific, to shipping.

Canada and Russia are at odds over areas of the continental shelf in the region, with its potentially important mineral and oil deposits.

“This is a demonstration of Canada’s will to exercise sovereignty over our own back yard,” Commodore Bob Blakely, of the Royal Canadian Navy, told reporters in Churchill at the weekend.

“The sea is a highway that’s open to everyone. We will allow everybody passage as long as they ask for our consent and comply with our rules: use our resources wisely and don’t pollute the fragile northern ecosystem. It’s like having a path behind your house. Nobody minds the neighbours walking along. Just don’t dump your garbage there and don’t take my vegetables out of the garden,” he said.

…the wider issue of protecting its northern edges seems to preoccupy Canada more than ever before. Ottawa, for example, is shortly to launch a satellite to orbit above the Arctic to monitor shipping through the region.

There are also plans to invest in a new road up the MacKenzie River valley all the way to the frozen port of Tuktoyaktuk with a view to future development of the region’s natural resources.

“To protect sovereignty, we either use or lose it,” noted Professor Robert Bone, author of ‘The Geography of the Canadian Arctic’.

  1. Daver Lee Lewis says:

    This is Canada we’re talking about, right? Our great neighbors to the north.

    Who cares.

  2. Canadian says:

    You wonder why people think Americans are assholes?

  3. von_ghenderson says:

    Nope, I don’t wonder at all. You should try living here.


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