Russia’s arctic ambitions should serve as a warning to Canada

Stephen Harper deserves some credit for putting Canada’s arctic sovereignty on the policy and federal funding radar screen. However, I still question whether we’re being aggressive enough on this issue, especially in lieu of those land-grabbing Russians.

We’re probably less than 10-15 years away from the Northwest Passage being ice-free for part of the year making it a legit shipping channel and shorter alternative than the route via the Panama Canal. The ramifications both politically and financially of a viable northern passage shouldn’t be underestimated. Not to mention the vast unknown natural resources that will inevitably be discovered once the ice recedes.

I totally respect the Russians for their foresight and ambition, but Canada had better be ready to defend her territory. In disputes like this it often boils down to ‘use it or lose it’, and we have done little to strengthen and legitimize our arctic borders to date.