The Arctic Wars

There was quite a salvo fired across Canada today which ruffled a few feathers here.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed to defend his country’s sovereignty over its northernmost territories yesterday after Moscow sent two submarines deep under the North Pole ice to plant a flag on the ocean floor.

So a country like Denmark laid a claim to a godforsaken island (Hans Island, 2005) publicly and all the government of Canada could do was talk and talk and talk. And then came the Harper government with a mighty swagger and proceeded to elucidate their stand in the matter by talking back to the US (yes THE US!!) when the government harshly objected to US submarines
patrolling the Arctic ocean (just inside the Canadian territory). And then the government proceeded to promise ice breakers (Canadian made, oooooooh) that will patrol the Arctic ocean against ANYONE trying to lay a claim to Canadian territory. And then the “new” government…..ummm….did nothing about it.

In true tradition of Canadian we talk rather then impose (A school of thought I subscribe to, by the way). The Danish and Canadian government are discussing the issue and they will probably end up sharing the revenues which is what we are supposed to do in the first place.

Which is why I was rather surprised to hear the rhetoric pour out of our esteemed foreign minister Peter MacKay. I mean, for the love of god, Russia is just posturing. If they are going to drop a flag here and there, they know very well, that is does not mean that they will actually claim the land. This is a PR exercise and nothing more. The next step is to talk (just like we are doing with Denmark) and resolve the situation. Would it lead to a resolution? Who knows. One thing it will not lead up to is a very serious diplomatic situation which I am fairly certain that neither Canada nor Russia is in any position to undertake. But if you are at the table, no one is spending millions n millions of dollars and, possibly the lives of their soldiers, to lay claim to a piece of land that no country has a right to, to begin with.

However, the Harper government has jumped to a chance to give their base some excellent talking points……

* “There is no question over Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic,”

* “We’ve established a long time ago that these are Canadian waters and this is Canadian property. You can’t go around the world these days dropping a flag somewhere. This isn’t the 14th or 15th century.”

* “This government has put a real emphasis on northern and Arctic sovereignty and we will continue to do so and we will move quickly in that regard.”

* “The question of Arctic sovereignty is not a question. It’s clear. It’s our country. It’s our water. … It’s the “True North strong and free” and they are fooling themselves if they think dropping a flag on the ocean floor is going to change anything.”

And their friends down south have joined them too…..

* “I’m not sure of whether they’ve put a metal flag, a rubber flag or a bedsheet on the ocean floor,” State Department spokesman Tom Casey (of the United States Of America) said. “Either way, it doesn’t have any legal standing or effect on this claim,” he said.

Rhetoric and BS posturing. That’s all this is.

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