Canada's Arctic

Canada’s Claim Over Arctic

Why Now?

Just a few years ago the world has not paid much attention to the vast, abandoned arctic but nowadays its hard not to notice that Canada and arctic being mentioned everywhere, specially after Canada’s prime minister Steven Harper’s trip to Nu navut to reaffirm Canada’s claim over the North. But the question is why now?

It’s all about Global warming, which is opening up huge economic potential in the arctic north mainly for 2 reasons.

1. World is using up its oil fast and to survive the future, we need to look for places which have not been explored yet. Arctic holds oil, gas, minerals, fish and other resources under it’s frigid, barren landscape which stretches thousands of miles. Surveys show that the Arctic contains an estimated one-quarter of the world’s undiscovered energy resources. Also studies suggest that up to 50 per cent of the earth’s remaining undiscovered reserves of hydrocarbons are located north of 60°n latitude. However, the extraction and transportation procedures still remain difficult and expensive. New technologies should cut down the cost considerably by making extraction and transportation procedures efficient and cost effective, just like Alberta tar and oil Sands.

2. The effects of climate change could open up the Northwest Passage to summer commercial traffic by 2015, which links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceanand offers a 7000 KM shorter route than the Europe to Asia voyage through Panama Canal. This summer the Arctic sea ice cap shrank to the smallest size ever measured and scientists believe that in 25 years not just the Northwest Passage, but the whole polar cap could thaw and by the end of this century, summer sea ice could disappear entirely. Some countries are already testing the waters. A Russian ship traveled through the Northwest Passage to Bermuda in 1999 and it saved them a lot of time and money. Japan and other countries researching to find ways to travel through Arctic for large ships.

Canadian or International Waters?

How much of Arctic is Canada’s? Canada claims that the Arctic waters of the Northwest Passage constitute “historic internal waters”, and under Canadian jurisdiction. While most countries agree that many islands dot the Arctic to the north of our mainland belongs to Canada but some countries, most arguably the Unites States does not recognize Canada’s right over waters separating Somerset Island from Devon Island or Melville Island from Banks Island. These countries see the Northwest Passage as an International strait or waters that any countries should be able to use. Hans Island in the Arctic Ocean has already been a matter of diplomatic issue with Denmark. Recently, Danish troops landed on Hans Island and planted a flag (2002 and 2003).Canada responded by doing the same right after (2005), which was the right thing to do to show the world that although we are peace loving people; we won’t tolerate anything when it comes to maintain our sovereignty.

Canada’s Plan For Protecting The Arctic

– Three new armed naval heavy icebreakers in the area of Iqaluit. The icebreakers will include 500 regular force personnel for crews and support and will be capable of carrying troops. This commitment will establish a Canadian naval presence in the Arctic.

– A new military/civilian deep-water docking facility in the area of Iqaluit. 

– A new Arctic National Sensor System for northern waters which will include underwater surveillance listening posts, such as acoustic or movement sensors, that will detect the movement and position of any foreign submarines and ships in Canadian Arctic waters.

– A new Arctic army training centre in the area of Cambridge Bay. 

– New fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft in Yellowknife. 

– Provide eastern and western Arctic air surveillance. New long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) squadrons will be stationed at Goose Bay and Comox to provide continuous Arctic and Ocean surveillance and patrol. Also, the Aurora aircraft and the satellite surveillance system will be upgraded to provide a complete Arctic surveillance capability.

– Revitalize the Canadian Rangers by adding 500 additional Rangers. The Rangers’ level of activity and training will be increased and equipment will be upgraded.

– Provide an army emergency response capability for the Arctic through a new airborne battalion at CFB Trenton.


Although Canada and the U.S. may disagree on the Arctic waters issue, it hardly becomes dispute. We can not work this out militarily with our southern neighbours for the obvious reasons. An Arctic cooperation agreement with the U.S. is in place and has worked well so far. Under this agreement, we are to suspend our differences and cooperate in one another’s Arctic waters. This agreement can be extended to include naval cooperation, Arctic security cooperation etc which would be beneficial for both and cost effective. Recent government activities are very positive and hopefully it will not wither away. Further policy discussions have to be arranged to secure Canada’s future most efficient and effective ways.

Originally published on I will be transferring all my articles from Canada’s Personal Finance Website. You will see articles from being posted here once in a while. Thanks.