An integrated approach to Canada's Arctic.

Author:Lackenbauer, P. Whitney
Position::CANADA'S ARTIC INTERESTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
 
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After the last round of frenzied debate over Canadian sovereignty in the wake of the 1985 Polar Sea voyage, Franklyn Griffiths suggested that the Arctic states had to decide whether they wanted the region to be one of enhanced civility or of military competition. In his view, accepting "an integrated concept of security--one in which military requirements are combined with an awareness of the need to act for ecological, economic, cultural, and social security," would allow northerners to play a more direct role in setting agendas and fostering cooperation and dialogue. (1) In the early twenty-first century, as rhetoric about a "new Cold War" in the Arctic heats up, commentators suggest that cooperative arrangements are less credible. In a supposed "race for resources," the Russians, Americans, Danes, and other energy-hungry nations are alleged to threaten Canada's northern inheritance. Since coming to office in 2006, the Conservative government's initiatives have emphasized the primacy of security (albeit couched in the language of sovereignty) through its commitments to enhance Canadian northern defence capabilities. Alarmism and paranoia abounds, and Inuit leaders are frustrated that their voices have been pushed to the margins. (2)

The papers in this issue of Behind the Headlines indicate that an integrated Arctic and circumpolar policy should incorporate both militarism and civility. Premier Paul Okalik reminds us that sovereignty has internal human dimensions, and that Canada is best served by acknowledging that the Inuit are at the centre of our sovereignty claim. Yet today's sovereignty and security strategies, built around "a military presence, surveillance and enforcement," do not prioritize Nunavummiut and other northern peoples. Northerners serve in the Canadian Rangers in high numbers, providing a military presence in remote areas, but this constructive engagement is not mirrored in most southern-directed defence planning. In emphasizing the need to build human capacity in the North, Okalik blurs the lines between domestic and international policy. In calling for more coastal infrastructure, he joins the other northern premiers who have proposed an extensive "multi-modal" northern transportation system, from roads to Tuktoyaktuk and rail networks to Siberia, to improved airport facilities, to small craft harbours, that, in Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie's vision, "connects communities, enables economic development, enhances national sovereignty...

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