Canada's Northern Strategy

Canada’s Northern Strategy ; Canadian Arctic Sovereignty and Security in a Transforming Circumpolar World (click to download .pdf) ; Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy ; more on the Arctic ; Northern Exposure: Peoples, Powers and Prospects in Canada’s North, Identifying public policy areas that require particular attention to fully realize the economic and human potential of Canada’s northernmost regions; Edited by Frances Abele, Thomas J. Courchene, F. Leslie Seidle, France St-Hilaire

PM ends northern jaunt on a green note
Harper wrapped up a week-long tour of the North with a visit to a hydroelectric dam that will get federal funding to create greener power in Yukon.
21 August
Harper stresses social welfare, economy in northern spending
(Globe & Mail) Canada’s Arctic presence must have a human, rather than solely military focus, PM says
From highways to harbours to housing, Stephen Harper insists his government’s focus on the North goes far beyond the elaborate military operation now under way to assert Canada’s Arctic sovereignty. The Prime Minister made a series of announcements yesterday – first in the Nunavut fishing village of Pangnirtung, and later in Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories – aimed at highlighting what he said is an unprecedented level of federal spending in northern communities. The Prime Minister said he agrees with Inuit leaders who say Canada asserts its northern sovereignty not solely by military means, but through the people who inhabit the North.
17 August
Don Martin: Stephen Harper’s Arctic strategy is melting
(National Post) No prime minister has devoted so much personal capital to showcasing the north. But in terms of the oft-promised ice-puncturing ships, ocean floor submarine sensors, deep sea port or mandatory passage registration regulations, his Arctic defence strategy has produced little beyond downgraded contracts, project delays and regurgitated press releases.
11 August
Cody Gault: Stephen Harper’s (very) Cold War
Since his 2006 election campaign, Stephen Harper has made Arctic sovereignty a central policy issue for his government, even launching a website ( last month outlining and publicizing his commitment to the North. Despite failing to begin construction on a single icebreaker after promising three, cutting the position of Arctic Ambassador and failing to break ground on the promised Arctic Research Centre in Resolute Bay, Harper has remained relentless in his “use it or lose it” rhetoric and has yet to back down from the suggestion that Russia’s recent activity in the Arctic poses a tangible threat to Canada’s national security.
8 August
PM unveils long-awaited development agency
(CTV) Prime Minister Stephen Harper has unveiled a new and long-awaited northern development agency, which he announced on the first full day of his latest Arctic tour. Officially known as the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, the government says it will be responsible for administering federal initiatives and infrastructure programs in the region.
1 August
The search for a vision to match Arctic vastness
(Globe & Mail) … once again, Canada’s northern residents are at the forefront of Ottawa’s Arctic sovereignty campaign. But Canada’s final frontier is also its most development-starved: Between the contested underwater continental shelf and the Radarsat-2 satellite lie dozens of largely isolated communities that lack the transportation, housing and communication infrastructure needed to back up Ottawa’s claims of an inhabited Canadian Arctic.
Bring urgency to Arctic plans
(The – Opinion) – Escalating temperatures, ice cap meltdown, threatened livelihoods and disappearing species. As if the assault of global warming on Canada’s Arctic weren’t enough, the laser beam of world attention on its oil and gas riches and future marine transport prospects has brought a new set of challenges to the boil.
Not a moment too soon, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has relaunched its northern strategy, identifying four priorities for action: exercising Canada’s Arctic sovereignty, protecting our environmental heritage, promoting social and economic development, and improving and devolving northern governance. As policy, the multidisciplinary plan brings Canada’s approach to the Arctic into the 21st century, where links between environment, politics, economics and human needs are a given. In the rugged but fragile Arctic, it’s especially urgent. The region is too important to Canada, and the world, to become a captive of any single interest. But, as critics point out, it’s a long leap from rhetoric to reality. Until now the Conservative government has lacked a sense of urgency on the file, and its promises have been unmet on a range of issues, from armed icebreakers to new coast guard patrol ships. Making the new northern strategy look even less serious are Ottawa’s obstructive performance on a global climate change plan and its clampdown on funding for important northern climate and atmospheric studies. The government’s holistic strategy is sound, even if its past history of delivery is shaky. To reboot the plan, it should also retool the delivery system. One approach would be to create an Arctic ministry to coordinate programs and develop initiatives. Such a ministry would overlap with others, notably the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs; jurisdictional issues would need to be worked out. But it would focus government attention on the Arctic and be a channel for the investment needed to support the four pillars of Canadian sovereignty in the North.
30 July
Jeffrey Simpson: An Arctic policy worth building on
The Conservatives deserve credit for doing more than talking in the North
Money is being spent, however, to support Canadian participation in International Polar Year, to build a commercial fisheries harbour in Pangnirtung, to do geo-mapping and to upgrade Arctic research. These and other projects are worthy in and of themselves, and demonstrate a welcomed attention to things in the Arctic, a region where previous governments had done more talking than accomplishing anything constructive.
It must be said that a few programs are less than meets the eye. Spending $50-million over five years on a northern economic development agency (every region of Canada must have one) means $10-million a year, a sum that won’t buy much in the North. … The need to assert sovereignty by establishing a much greater Canadian presence, and to improve Inuit living conditions, will cost a great deal more than the government is already spending.
The Liberal response:
Harper Conservatives’ latest Northern strategy announcement amounts to much ado about nothing
WHITEHORSE – With even Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl admitting there was nothing new in the Conservative’s latest Northern Strategy re-announcement, Larry Bagnell, Liberal Critic for Arctic Issues and Northern Development cautioned Canadians not to be fooled by more Arctic promises still not kept. “Stephen Harper made a grand list of promises to northerners to get their votes but he’s never apologized for breaking them,” said Mr. Bagnell.
29 July
We have an Arctic strategy — let’s get to it
Rob Huebert, senior fellow at the Canadian International Council (CIC) and author of its recent paper, Canadian Arctic Sovereignty and Security in a Transforming Circumpolar World.
(Ottawa Citizen op-ed) The good news is that Canada has finally caught up to its Arctic neighbours. Before its release, Canada was one of the few circumpolar nations that had not issued a government policy outlining its vision and commitment to its Arctic. The Americans, Norwegians, the Danes, the Russians and even little Iceland have all produced clear Arctic policy statements.
The bad news however, is the policy highlights how far we still need to go. While the plan that the Harper government has put together makes a lot of sense, there has been little evidence of it being implemented. Nor does the new strategy give any indication as to how Canadians can even know if its promises are being kept.
Thomas Courchene: Devolution – whose North is it?
We must let the territories develop without being economically balkanized
The Harper government recently released “Canada’s Northern Strategy,” which is anchored on the four pillars of sovereignty, environmental sustainability, socio-economic development and devolution. This dedicated strategy is most welcome and long overdue. Most Canadians are generally comfortable with the government’s Arctic policies and are becoming increasingly aware that all of us, not just those who live north of 60, have a social, cultural and economic interest in the North’s successful development. The pillar where there may be some anxiety is devolution, especially resource devolution.
28 July
Arctic expert questions Canada’s northern strategy
(CBC) Michael Byers, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, said the strategy offered little in the way of new initiatives and announcements.
Byers said it also failed to mention the government’s recent moves to suspend some Arctic sovereignty programs, such as the Northern Watch pilot program to test surveillance technology in the High Arctic. Another federal program, the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship Project, was suspended even as melting sea ice opens up the Northwest Passage to foreign marine traffic, Byers told CBC News.
26 July
Ottawa unveils Arctic campaign
Conservatives are creating a new economic development agency for the North and looking to bolster sovereignty in the region
(Globe & Mail) As Danish politicians plan to significantly increase their country’s military presence in the North, and as Russia, Norway and even the European Union lay out plans to flex their muscles in the resource-rich waters, Ottawa launched a website and released a long list that compiles all the commitments the federal government has made to bolster the Arctic region. Instead of announcing aggressive new initiatives, the Northern Strategy seeks to tie together ones that are already in the works, but in a coherent way that will make the public realize how active Canada is in the North, ministers said.

Speaking Notes for the Honourable Chuck Strahl, PC, MP, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-status Indians: Northern Strategy Progress Report & Launch of the Northern Strategy Vision

One Comment on "Canada's Northern Strategy"

  1. stan squires August 17, 2009 at 7:32 am ·

    I am from vancouver and i wanted to say that canada’s sovereignty over the north don’t mean anything to the native people living there.The people in that area of canada are living in third world conditions.That won’t improve with the canadian gov.The canadian gov.wants to have control of the natural resources there.The people living there don’t mean nothing to the gov.The canadian people who were stranded in Sudan and Kenya is prove that the working class and the canadian nothing in common.

    Stan Squires

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