Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean arrived today in Oslo, Norway to embark on a three-day tour of the country meant to bring the two states closer together. The Governor General is the official representative of the Queen of England. She remarked that Canada and Norway’s shared northern geography makes them “brother and sister in the North.”
The visit was reported in both the Canadian and Norwegian press, but in strikingly different tones. The Vancouver Sun dedicates 11 out of 16 paragraphs in the article about the visit to a discussion of the United Nation’s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf acceptance of Norway’s claims regarding the extension of its territory in the north Atlantic and Arctic seas around Svalbard. The Vancouver Sun notes that this ruling “pushes the Scandinavian nation’s legal possessions to within 550 kilometres of the North Pole,” but reassures its readers that Norway is not seeking to claim the actual pole. The article quotes Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, who said, “In the discussion about who owns the North Pole — it’s definitely not us.” Meanwhile, an editorial entitled “To the North Pole” in the Norwegian newspaper the Finnmark Avis proclaimed that the country is ready to move from being just “a coastal state to a sea state” – just the type of rhetoric that might upset Canada.
On the other hand, Norwegian papers were rather more light-hearted in their coverage, focusing on the national anthems that were played during the ceremonies, the Governor General and her husband’s hotel, and the fact that both countries are “working hard to find a good balance between developing their resources and protect ecosystems that are vital for the earth’s health.”
The Canadians’ worries might be a broader reflection of their country’s concerns about losing territory and sovereignty in the Arctic, while Norway can rest easy with its 235,000 new square kilometers of territory. On the other hand, perhaps the Canadian reporters were just bitter they couldn’t find any poutine in Oslo.
Vårlig velkomst i Slottsparken, Haugesunds Avis (Norwegian)
Michaëlle Jean kommer til Tromsø, Nordlys.no (Norwegian)