Canada’s Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence has tabled an interim report (PDF) entitled, “Sovereignty and Security in Canada’s Arctic.” The 75-page paper discusses various aspects of Canadian Arctic policy, including domestic and international issues and multilateral regimes in the region. There are also several useful maps in the appendices, including one showing Canada’s potential continental shelf claims and another displaying the Canadian search and rescue zones. I haven’t yet read the report, but I will do so in the coming days to analyze it.
In other Canadian Arctic news, the 2011 federal budget would allocate $150 million for the construction of a 140-kilometer, all-season road between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories, which currently has a very limited number of roads. Whether the budget will actually pass, though, is another issue. CBC reported that the Member of Parliament for the Western Arctic, Dennis Bevington, remarked, “The budget document that was presented here doesn’t seem to be one that’s going to be accepted by a majority of parliamentarians.” Moreover, the Member of Parliament for the Yukon, Larry Bagnell, suggested that he would vote against the budget since it does “not offer much for the North.” Bagnell is also the Official Opposition Critic for Arctic Issues and Northern Development. With all three opposition parties vowing that they will not support the budget, the Conservative government looks likely to fall. That means elections could be held as early as May. If a party other than the Conservatives wins a majority, or even plurality, of seats in Parliament, this could herald a new era in Canadian Arctic policy. The Conservatives are ahead in the polls, though, so such a change of tack seems unlikely for now.
“Clash on Conservative Budget Could Spur Canadian Election,” New York Times