STANDING COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL DEFENCE: CANADA’S ARCTIC SOVEREIGNTY
The Government of Canada expresses its thanks to the Standing Committee on National Defence for its Third Report of the Third Session of the Fortieth Parliament, entitled Canada’s Arctic Sovereignty. The Government has thoroughly reviewed and given careful consideration to the Report and the recommendations contained therein.
The Government concurs with the Standing Committee on National Defence’s assessment that Canada must continue to exercise its sovereignty and demonstrate a strong presence in the Arctic and that the Government’s actions in the North are best guided by a long-term vision for the region.
The Government has maintained a continuous focus on the North since the Northern Strategy was first articulated in the fall of 2007. The Northern Strategy represents a whole-of-government framework to guide federal activities in the North, in support of the exercise of our Arctic sovereignty, the promotion of economic and social development, environmental protection, and the improvement of governance. This effort is coordinated by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, with the strong support of numerous federal departments and agencies.
Exercising Arctic sovereignty is a pillar of the Northern Strategy and the number one priority set out in Statement on Canada’s Arctic foreign policy. Canada’s Arctic sovereignty is long-standing, well-established and based on historic title. Launched on August 20th 2010, the foreign policy statement is the international dimension of the Northern Strategy, and it provides the international platform from which to project our national interests in the world. The statement sends a clear message of leadership and stewardship, but firmly rooted in our commitment to sovereignty in the North. The Government is putting its full resources behind the exercise of our sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the Arctic. Canada will pursue targeted actions at the international level to advance the sovereignty agenda in concrete ways. Making progress on outstanding boundary issues will be a top priority. We will never waver in our commitment to protect our North.
The Government strongly believes that its Northern Strategy and Arctic foreign policy remain the principal tools for exercising our Arctic sovereignty and advancing our Northern interests domestically and internationally. The Government will continue to deliver on its integrated Northern Strategy, and will continue to be guided in international affairs by its Arctic foreign policy, for the benefit of Northerners and all Canadians.
Once again, the Government thanks the Standing Committee on National Defence for its Report, and for contributing to the growing body of knowledge on Arctic issues. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans, Transport, National Defence, and Industry, and with the support and direction of the Prime Minister of Canada, will continue to work towards ensuring that Canada’s North remains a prosperous and secure region within a strong and sovereign Canada.
Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that a Cabinet Committee on Arctic Affairs, consisting of relevant Ministers and chaired by the Prime Minister, be created. The Committee further recommends that, in the development of future Arctic policies, this Committee engage the appropriate provincial, territorial and municipal authorities as well as appropriate representatives of Canada’s Indigenous Arctic peoples.
The Government shares the Committee’s view on the importance of northern issues and Arctic policy, and on the importance of effective consideration of these issues by Cabinet. However, the existing Cabinet committee structure provides for appropriate consideration of these issues in a manner that reflects their cross-cutting nature and supports the advancement of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty priorities. The integrated approach among Cabinet committees ensures that a number of Ministers play important roles in the implementation of the Government’s Northern Strategy and in the advancement of Canada’s Arctic foreign policy. Ministers from across Cabinet bring important perspectives to Cabinet committee discussions. At the same time, the Prime Minister has reinforced the importance of Northern issues for Government by chairing meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Priorities and Planning specifically dedicated to the Northern Strategy, including in Inuvik in August 2008, and in Iqaluit in August 2009.
Recommendation 2: The Committee recommends that, in the development of future Arctic policies, this Committee engage the appropriate provincial, territorial and municipal authorities as well as appropriate representatives of Canada’s Indigenous Arctic peoples.
Although the Government does not support the creation of a new Cabinet Committee, it does support engaging appropriate provincial, territorial, and municipal authorities, as well as appropriate representatives of Canada’s Arctic Indigenous peoples, in the development of future Arctic policies and already has a strong engagement mechanism in place to do this. By way of the existing governance structures that support the Northern Strategy, the Government engages the appropriate provincial, territorial and municipal authorities, as well as Canadian members of Indigenous Permanent Participant organizations (indigenous organizations that have permanent seats in the Arctic Council along with the Arctic Member States) in the development of Arctic policy. Accordingly, Government of Canada officials meet regularly with Canada’s Arctic Council Advisory Committee (ACAC), a body comprised of Canadian Members of Indigenous Permanent Participant organizations and Territorial governments as well as Canadian chairs of the Arctic Council Working Groups. This collaboration recognizes the important role that Northern Governments, Indigenous Permanent Participants organizations, and other Northerners in Canada have played, and will continue to play, in shaping Canada’s international actions.
Canada will continue to engage with Northerners on Canada’s Arctic foreign policy and will continue to meet regularly in Canada’s North to find common ground and work towards common objectives. Furthermore, the Government of Canada will continue to support Canadian members of Indigenous Permanent Participant organizations, including financially, to contribute to strengthening their capacity to fully participate in the activities of the Arctic Council.
Recommendation 3: The Committee recommends that the Government ensure that the Inuit be included in scientific research projects pertaining to the Northern environment.
The Government recognizes the important participation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Northerners in scientific research, including with respect to planning and proposal development, the incorporation of traditional knowledge, training, capacity-building, and employment. The Government, through programs like International Polar Year, the Northern Contaminants Program, in planning for the Canadian High Arctic Research Station and in its climate change adaptation programs has ensured and will continue to encourage the participation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Northerners in the planning, review and dissemination of science to the extent that is possible.
The key foundation for any collaboration includes acceptance of and respect for the perspectives and knowledge of Northerners. For example, through the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP), the Government of Canada has been working in close partnership with Aboriginal organizations, northern communities, and governments on researching the impacts of global pollution in the North. The NCP has established a wide range of measures and mechanisms to ensure "responsible research", with particular emphasis on the North, both in communities and the surrounding environment. Responsible research involves elements such as consultation, community participation, partnership, communications and appropriate and timely data reporting. National Aboriginal Organizations are represented on the Management Committee, are full partners in the running of the Program, and have provided invaluable expertise on northern Aboriginal perspectives that help shape the Program. Additionally, the NCP supports five Regional Contaminants Committees (RCCs) which are comprised of regional Aboriginal representatives and other Northern stakeholders. These regional committees liaise with their Northern communities, communicate NCP messages, and review project proposals for socio-cultural content. Their approval of proposals is a requisite to project funding. The NCP also supports four Inuit Research Advisors (IRAs), whose role is to liaise with Inuit communities and NCP researchers.
Recommendation 4: The Committee recommends that the Government do more to recognize the important historic contributions made by Canada’s Indigenous peoples to Arctic sovereignty and that, in light of the commitments made in the 2010 Throne Speech and concerns raised before this Committee, the Government act on a priority basis to ensure the development and long term maintenance of viable Indigenous communities.
Canada recognizes and values the important role Northern governments, Arctic Indigenous organizations at the Arctic Council (known as Permanent Participants organizations) and other Northerners have played, and will continue to play, in shaping Canada’s international actions. Through the Canadian Arctic Council Advisory Committee, Northern governments and Indigenous Permanent Participant organizations in Canada will have the opportunity to actively participate in shaping Canadian policy on Arctic issues. As interest by non-Arctic players in the work of the Council grows, Canada will work to ensure that the central role of the Permanent Participants is not diminished or diluted.
The Government of Canada recognizes and acknowledges the important role the Inuit have played - both in the past and today - in maintaining Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic. As you know, our collective history with Aboriginal people has not always been positive. On Tuesday August 18, 2010, the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, apologized, on behalf of the Government of Canada, for relocating Inuit from Inukjuak and Pond Inlet to Grise Fiord and Resolute in the High Arctic in the 1950s and for the hardships, suffering and loss they experienced as a result of the relocation. As part of the apology, the Government acknowledged that the relocatees, and their descendants, made an important contribution to Canada’s presence in the High Arctic by building prosperous and viable communities in Grise Fiord and Resolute. The establishment of permanent communities throughout the region has strengthened Canada’s presence in the Arctic and greatly aided in the development of Northern Canada.
As set out in the Northern Strategy and recently reiterated in the statement of Canada’s Arctic foreign policy, the Government of Canada is committed to providing Canadian Northerners with more control over their economic and political destiny. In recent decades, Canada’s Northern governments have taken on greater responsibility for many aspects of their region’s affairs. Progress is continuing in this area and represents another way in which Canada is exercising its sovereignty in the Arctic. Canada’s North is also home to some of the most innovative, consultative approaches to government in Canada and the world. Through land claim and self-government agreements, Indigenous communities are developing made-in-the-North policies and strategies to address their unique economic and social challenges and opportunities. With respect to the commitment made in the 2010 Speech from the Throne, Canada is taking steps to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in a manner fully consistent with Canada’s Constitution and laws.
The Government of Canada has made a wide variety of recent commitments related to promoting Northern social and economic development. The Government is working closely with the territorial governments to ensure that foundations for viable communities are being built through investments in infrastructure tailored to local needs. Such as the commercial fisheries harbour being constructed in Pangnirtung, to help support the development of fisheries in the territory. Building on previous significant investments made to improve the availability of housing in the North, Canada’s Economic Action Plan in Budget 2009, dedicated a further $200 million to Northern housing with $100 million for affordable housing in Nunavut, where core housing need is the greatest. This is in addition to the $300 million in Budget 2006 provided to the territories for new affordable housing.
The Government is also planning on increasing the numbers of Canadian Rangers from 4200 to 5000 across Canada by 2012, an investment in Northern communities designed not only to exercise our sovereignty by increasing Canadian presence in the North, but also to build bridges with the communities while encouraging them to safeguard their traditional skills and knowledge. As many Canadian Rangers are Aboriginal and there are a total of 23 different languages spoken, the reinforcement of this institution will play an important role in advancing public recognition of Canada’s Inuit, First Nations and Métis.
In addition to these investments, the Government of Canada is also working to support Indigenous languages. Canada will continue to encourage a greater understanding of the human dimension of the Arctic to improve the lives of Northerners, particularly through the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council’s Arctic Human Development Report was the first comprehensive assessment of human well-being to address the entire Arctic region. Canada will continue to play a leadership role in Arctic Council initiatives in this area and to host the Secretariat for the Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group. For example, the 2008 Arctic Indigenous Languages Symposium, organized by the Inuit Circumpolar Council with support from the Government of Canada, underlined the importance of preserving and strengthening indigenous languages.
Recommendation Five: The Committee recommends that the Government include Nunavik in Northern Quebec and Nunatsiavut in Northern Newfoundland and Labrador at the 60th parallel in its Northern Strategy and other programs for the North.
The Government acknowledges that many of the challenges facing the territories are common across the North and that it is important to consider the perspective of all Northerners, not just those in the territories. Through the Northern Strategy, the Government is delivering important programs and initiatives in the territories and across the North, including in Nunavik and Nunatsiavut, and will continue to work together with these regions through the appropriate mechanisms to achieve our vision for the North.
While provinces exercise constitutional powers in their own right, the territories exercise delegated powers under the authority of Parliament. Over the past forty years, growth and evolution of capacity of territorial governments has been matched by the transfer of additional province-like powers from the Government of Canada. At present, territorial governments hold many of the same responsibilities that provincial governments do.
Administration of natural resources has been transferred to the Government of the Yukon and negotiations for a similar process are currently underway in respect to the Northwest Territories, and exploratory discussions have commenced in respect to Nunavut. Consequently, the Government of Canada retains responsibilities for resource management in the NWT and Nunavut. The Northern Strategy includes both federal initiatives designed to improve management of natural resources through the Action Plan to Improve Northern Regulatory Regimes, and investments to inform and guide private sector mineral and petroleum exploration efforts.
Similar resource management responsibilities in Nunavik and Nunatsiavut, however, are part of the constitutionally protected powers of the Governments of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. It would be inappropriate for Canada to involve itself in provincial delivery of these responsibilities or attach them to the Northern Strategy.
The Northern Strategy also includes an array of activities in traditional areas of federal responsibility, with applicability to Nunavik and Nunatsiavut as well as the three northern territories. The Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund will provide $85 million over two years to upgrade and maintain facilities that support science and technology across the North. More than $13 million of these funds have been granted to projects in Nunavik, including projects in Kuujjuaq and Boniface River, while more than $5.3 million have been granted to projects in Nunatsiavut, including projects in Saglek Bay and Nain.
Canada’s $150 million investment in International Polar Year (IPY) is also providing benefits to Nunavik. The IPY Northern Coordination Office, based out of the Nunavik Research Centre in Kuujjuaq provides support to IPY researchers working in the region and engages local community members in various IPY activities. IPY funding has also been allocated towards equipment upgrades, improvements to research infrastructure, and capacity building.
Federal investments, such as the expansion and modernization of the Canadian Rangers, the commissioning of the John. G. Diefenbaker icebreaker, and the new Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels, will also provide important benefits to all Canadians, including residents of Nunavik and Nunatsiavut. The Government has certain unique responsibilities in the territories. The Government will continue to work with territorial governments, Aboriginal groups and other partners to deliver on its commitments and objectives in the North, both in the territories and elsewhere.
Recommendation Six: The Committee recommends that the Government encourage the Arctic Council to consider the interests of other states that could have a significant future interest in the Arctic.
Increasingly, the world is turning its attention northward, with many players far removed from the region itself seeking a role and in some cases calling into question the governance of the Arctic. However, for Canada, the key foundation for any collaboration will be acceptance of and respect for the perspectives and knowledge of Northerners and Arctic states’ sovereignty. As well, there must be recognition that the Arctic states remain best placed to exercise leadership in the management of the region.
The Arctic Council is the pre-eminent forum for discussing Arctic issues, and Canada is confident that the Arctic nation states, working together, are able to appropriately manage the North as it undergoes fundamental change. The region should continue to be managed by Arctic nations whose full range of interests are most affected by the changes in, and development of, the region.
The Arctic Council at present engages non-Arctic states and other entities both at Senior Officials meetings and at the Council's Working Groups through the presence of permanent and ad-hoc observers. Canada is working constructively with Arctic states on objective and principled criteria for assessing applications by non-Arctic states seeking observer status. Canada has set out three principles as criteria for membership:1) a demonstrated understanding of the values and interests of Northerners; 2) an ability to contribute to Arctic Science and Research; and 3) a demonstrated commitment to supporting Permanent Participant organizations. Canada is working closely with the other Council members to come to an agreement; however, the Government is resolved that these three key criteria are non-negotiable. A willing capacity by observers to contribute to the overall Arctic discourse as well as to Arctic Council projects and initiatives can result in a positive outcome for the Council and the Arctic region.
Recommendation Seven: The Committee recommends that the Government re-establish the Office of Arctic Ambassador.
The Arctic and North is a priority for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and he is devoting a considerable amount of time to Arctic issues both domestically and internationally. The Minister represents Canada’s Northern interests at the annual ministerial-level meeting of the Arctic Council, the pre-eminent multilateral forum for discussing Arctic issues. Furthermore, many of the duties of an Ambassador of Circumpolar Affairs are being carried out by Canada’s Senior Arctic Official, a senior public servant in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), and supported by the Circumpolar and Aboriginal Affairs division at DFAIT, Canada's network of missions abroad, including the newly opened Canadian International Centre for the Arctic Region located in Oslo, as well as the many federal Government departments with a mandate to work in the Arctic and North. The Department of Foreign Affairs has re-aligned responsibilities for Arctic issues to include sustainable development, climate change and energy, recognizing the importance of all of these issues taken together. All of this work is led by the dedicated Senior Arctic Official. This responsible and effective approach serves to advance Canadian interests on the international stage.
Recommendation Eight: The Committee recommends that the Government, in order to strengthen the Arctic Council, encourage it to broaden its mandate and make matters of security part of that mandate.
When the Arctic Council was created in 1996, Arctic states explicitly stated that the mandate of the Arctic Council should not include matters of military security. Furthermore, coastal states, in the 2008 Ilulissat Declaration, committed to the extensive international legal framework that applies to the Arctic Ocean and to the orderly settlement of any possible overlapping Arctic claims.
The Government is committed to Arctic security, and to asserting Canada’s presence throughout its Arctic. With other countries becoming more interested in the Arctic and its rich resource potential, and with new trade routes opening up, Canada must continue to exercise its sovereignty while strengthening the safety and security of Canadians living in the High Arctic. Since 2007, the Government of Canada has announced a number of initiatives to enhance our capacity in the North and to responsibly exercise our sovereignty there. These include significant new commitments to allow Canada to better monitor, protect and patrol its Arctic land, sea and sky and to keep pace with changes in the region.
Canada is taking action. The Canada First Defence Strategy will give the Canadian Forces the tools it needs to provide an increased presence in the Arctic. Through this strategy, Canada is investing in new patrol ships that will be capable of sustained operation in first-year ice to ensure we can closely monitor our waters as they gradually open up and maritime activity increases. In order to support these and other Government of Canada vessels operating in the North, Canada is investing in a berthing and refuelling facility in Nanisivik.
Canada is also expanding the size and capabilities of the Canadian Rangers, drawn primarily from indigenous communities, that provide a military presence and Canada’s “eyes and ears” in remote parts of Canada. A new Canadian Forces Arctic Training Centre is also being established in Resolute, Nunavut. The Prime Minister travelled to Resolute, Nunavut on August 25, 2010 to visit Canadian Forces Operation Nanook, an annual Arctic sovereignty exercise being conducted by the Canadian Forces, Canadian Coast Guard, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, and other government departments operating in Canada’s North. Operation Nanook shows the Government’s commitment to protecting and demonstrating control over the air, land and sea within our jurisdiction.
Canada is also taking a leadership role with Arctic partners to address public safety in the region. In March 2010, the Minister of Foreign Affairs convened a ministerial-level Arctic Ocean coastal states meeting in Chelsea, Quebec, to a discuss priority Arctic issues. This meeting was an important step in encouraging forward thinking on the emerging issues in the region, including public safety, such as the potential for illicit activities resulting from greater access through Northern borders. It publicly demonstrated leadership and collaboration by coastal states on responsible management of the Arctic Ocean.
Canada has cooperative relationships with its Arctic Ocean neighbours in areas ranging from joint military exercises to search and rescue cooperation. The Canadian Forces have cooperative relationships with their international partners in the North, and this year, invited the United States and Denmark to participate in Exercise Natsiq, the military exercise portion of Operation Nanook 2010. Canada, the US and Russia have previously undertaken combined Arctic search and rescue exercises intended to build confidence and interoperability in the North. In addition, Canada and the US have a long history of working together to monitor North American airspace through the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD).
Finally, a binding Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, which is fully consistent with Canada’s international commitments, is currently being negotiated under the aegis of the Arctic Council. This agreement will seek to improve international coordination on Arctic search and rescue activity. The Search and Rescue Agreement will be the first legally binding instrument negotiated under the Arctic Council.
Recommendation Nine: The Committee recommends that the Government expedite the procurement of the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships.
As noted in the Report, the acquisition of Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships for the Canadian Forces represents a key investment under the sovereignty pillar of the Government’s Northern Strategy, as well as an important element of the Canada First Defence Strategy. While other Government departments hold the lead for domestic security issues, the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships will play a key role in supporting National Defence’s partner departments in exercising and enforcing Canada’s sovereignty off all three coasts, including the Arctic.
The Government is committed to delivering these vessels as soon as possible. Indeed, the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, announced on June 3, 2010, will ensure that the vessels are built efficiently, cost-effectively and to the highest standards, while also contributing to the long-term sustainability of the Canadian shipbuilding industry. Under this Strategy, the Government will establish a long-term strategic relationship with two Canadian shipyards to build all the currently approved large federal ships: one to build combat vessels, including the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships, and the other to build non-combat vessels. The Government intends to enter into umbrella agreements with these two shipyards, to be selected through a competitive process, by fall 2011, after which it will award the contracts for specific projects as the individual procurement strategies progress.
The Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships will be among the first vessels to be built under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The project will benefit from the prior competitive selection of a shipyard and the negotiation of an overarching agreement under the Strategy, which will help shorten the time required to achieve a contract award. In addition, in exchange for long-term, predictable work, the selected shipyard will be expected to invest in infrastructure and the overall health of Canada’s marine sector, ensuring that Canada possesses the capacity to both build and maintain these vessels in a timely and affordable manner.
Recommendation Ten: The Committee recommends that the Government expedite the building of the promised John G. Diefenbaker icebreaker to ensure delivery within 15 years.
CCGS John G. Diefenbaker is a signature investment of the Government of Canada's Northern Strategy, and will serve to strengthen Canada’s ability to exercise Arctic sovereignty. $720 million in capital funding and $25 million in annual operating funding for this new vessel were announced as part of Budget 2008 and the timeline for the planning, design, construction and acceptance of the Polar Icebreaker includes a targeted delivery date of late 2017. Once operational, the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker will increase the Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) coverage in Canadian Arctic and adjacent waters through its ability to operate autonomously for a longer period than any icebreakers currently in the CCG fleet. It will be a state-of-the-art vessel with a large carrying capacity and greater ice-breaking capabilities than any other vessel currently in the Canadian fleet.
Recommendation Eleven: The Committee recommends that all foreign vessels entering Canada’s Arctic waters be required to report to the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations (NORDREG). This requirement should apply regardless of size or tonnage.
The Government partially supports this recommendation. The Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone (NORDREG) Regulations, made pursuant to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, are intended to help ensure safe and efficient navigation. The Government will study the feasibility of expanding the coverage of NORDREG.
On July 1, 2010, the NORDREG Regulations came into force and replaced the voluntary ship reporting system with a mandatory one. These new measures will ensure the most effective services are available for current and future levels of maritime traffic, enhancing Canada’s ability to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of maritime traffic and protecting the unique and fragile Arctic marine environment. The application of the NORDREG captures vessels, both domestic and foreign, that pose the greatest risk to the marine environment, including: (a) all vessels of 300 gross tonnage or more; (b) all vessels that are engaged in towing or pushing a vessel if the combined gross tonnage of the vessel and the vessel being towed or pushed is 500 gross tonnage or more; and (c) all vessels carrying as cargo a pollutant or dangerous goods, or engaged in towing or pushing a vessel carrying as cargo a pollutant or dangerous goods. This application is similar to the mandatory reporting system on the east coast under the Eastern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zones Regulations. With respect to vessels not currently required to report to NORDREG, the Government will continue to encourage mariners to follow safe practices on the water, such as carrying standardized safety equipment and filing a sail plan with the CCG to facilitate a response in situations of distress.
Moreover, at present a multi-departmental approach is taken with respect to security and deterrence measures in Canada’s Arctic waters which involves, among other departments, Transport Canada, the RCMP, and the Coast Guard. For example, while the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces do not have direct roles in the enforcement of Canadian regulations or law, they provide support to law enforcement authorities when requested by the appropriate Minister and approved by the Minister of National Defence. Such support can be provided on a case-by-case basis or by establishing appropriate Memorandums of Understanding or other such instruments with the appropriate Department or Agency.
Additionally, since 2007, the Government of Canada has announced a number of commitments to better monitor, protect and patrol its Arctic land, sea and sky and to exercise sovereignty in the North.
Recommendation Twelve: The Committee recommends that the Government provide proper infrastructure such as shore facilities, mapping and mandatory ice-experienced pilots etc, in order to ensure the safe passage of transiting vessels through Canada’s Arctic waters.
The Government recognizes the importance of providing proper infrastructure to support safe vessel transits through Canada’s Arctic waters. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) plays a prominent role in ensuring the safe transit of vessels in Canada’s Arctic waters through a range of support and services it provides. The CCG maintains a network of navigational aids throughout the Arctic including short-range visual, sound, and radar aids and long-range marine aids which facilitate shipping from mid-June to mid-November. The CCG also operates two Marine Communication and Traffic Services (MCTS) centers located in Inuvik and Iqaluit that support safe navigation during the shipping season. The two MCTS centers track all domestic and foreign vessel activity and provide distress and safety communications, weather and ice information in Canada’s territorial waters.
Maritime traffic is expected to increase in the Arctic due to reduced ice coverage resulting in more navigable waters. Accordingly, Budget 2010 provided $2.2 million over two years to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to enable the CCG to deliver on Canada’s commitments to the International Maritime Organization in its role as international coordinator of two new Arctic Navigational Areas (NAVAREAS), thereby facilitating safe navigation in a substantial area of Arctic waters.
Another critical piece of infrastructure for safe navigation in Canada’s Arctic waters is accurate and up-to-date charts to mark navigation routes. The Canadian Hydrographic Service within DFO surveys and publishes information to support activities such as fuel and cargo delivery to Northern communities, icebreaking, and search-and-rescue support. The Budget 2008 investment for the new commercial harbour at Pangnirtung also included targeted funding to support the charting of the approach to the harbour.
Through its fleet, the CCG provides support for safe navigation in the Arctic by providing key services such as icebreaking. The CCG currently deploys two heavy icebreakers, four medium icebreakers and several other multi-task ice-capable vessels to the Arctic to serve the Government of Canada's Arctic marine-related needs. Budget 2008 provided funding for the acquisition of a new Canadian-built polar icebreaker, CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, which will come into service when CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent reaches the end of its operational life in 2017. Once operational, this large, multi-task icebreaker will increase CCG coverage in the Canadian Arctic will be capable of autonomous operations from May through January, and could remain safely in the Arctic over the winter, if necessary.
Recommendation Thirteen: The Committee recommends that the Government allocate the necessary resources to enable the Canadian Coast Guard to effectively execute its mandate in the Arctic.
The Canadian Coast Guard's (CCG) mandate in the Arctic is consistent with its mandate across Canada, with the exception of the Agency's responsibilities under the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, under which CCG is the primary responder to pollution incidents North of 60 degrees, and in its role in bringing supplies to remote Northern communities. The Canadian Coast Guard delivers its programs across Canada through resources allocated according to current levels of service and seasonal demand. Any expansion or extension of services in the Arctic, from current levels, will need to be considered in context of fiscal capability and demands on the CCG from all regions.
The Government recognizes the critical role that the CCG plays in the Arctic, and has made significant investments in CCG programs and services related to the Arctic in recent years. Recognizing changing conditions in the North, Budget 2008 provided $720 million in capital funding and $25 million in annual operating funding for the acquisition of a new Canadian-built multi-task polar icebreaker, CCGS John G. Diefenbaker. This new icebreaker will provide further capability to the CCG by providing for increased coverage in the Arctic and adjacent waters.
In order to enhance the CCG’s ability to respond to oil spills in the Arctic, Budget 2007 provided the CCG $2.3 million over three years to increase Canada's oil spill response capacity in the Arctic. The CCG has since purchased and deployed community-based first-response equipment so that by the end of 2010 a total of nineteen Arctic communities will be equipped to respond to local on-water spill events using containment and recovery equipment. The CCG also provides response training to members of local communities so that they may effectively deploy equipment in the event of a spill.
With a view to improving navigation in Arctic waters, Budget 2010 invested $2.2 million over two years to support the CCG in its role as international coordinator of two new Arctic Navigational Areas (NAVAREAS). Through this initiative the CCG will provide navigational warnings to mariners, facilitating the safe management of marine traffic in substantial areas of Arctic waters including the Northwest Passage.
Finally, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the CCG are currently developing a long-term strategic Arctic Vision that will provide an integrated approach for DFO and CCG activities in the North over the short, medium, and long-term.
Recommendation Fourteen: The Committee recommends that the Government fully fund the RADARSAT Constellation Mission.
Building on the success of RADARSAT 1 and 2, which have consistently allowed Canada to exercise its sovereignty, protect its environment, and develop our resources, the Government recently announced additional support for the Canadian Space Agency to further develop the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. Budget 2010 provided the Canadian Space Agency with $397 million over five years to work with the Canadian space industry to develop the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, the next generation of advanced RADAR remote sensing satellites. Together with $100 million from existing resources of the Canadian Space Agency, $497 million will be invested over five years in advanced research, technology development and construction associated with the Constellation Mission.
In Resolute, on August 25th 2010, the Prime Minister announced support for the next phase of the Mission: a system of three advanced remote sensing satellites. By supporting the world-class RADARSAT Constellation Mission, the Government will not only ensure that Canada maintains its role as a world leader in aerospace technology, but will also provide National Defence with daily coverage of Canada’s land mass and ocean approaches from coast-to-coast-to-coast, especially in the Arctic.
Images captured by the RADARSAT Constellation will help Canada exercise its Arctic sovereignty, protect our environmental heritage, promote economic development and support Northern governance. Specifically, from the unique vantage point of space, the RADARSAT Constellation will provide a means to improve the monitoring of activities in our Arctic territories, including approaching vessel activity, assist the safe navigation of ships in our coastal waters, enhance weather monitoring and support the sustainable management, development and exploitation of Canada’s national resources.
Recommendation Fifteen: The Committee recommends that the Government give priority to resolving the dispute over the Beaufort Sea with the United States.
With regard to Arctic waters, Canada controls all maritime navigation in its waters. Nevertheless, disagreement exists between the United States and Canada regarding the maritime boundary in the Beaufort Sea (approximately 6,250 square nautical miles). Canada is seeking an early resolution to this dispute. It will continue to manage this discrete boundary issue and will also, as a priority, seek to work with the US to explore the possibility of resolving it in accordance with international law.
The issue has been well managed by Canada and the US and will be resolved on its own merits when both parties are ready to do so. In January 2010, Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton agreed to a dialogue of Government experts to explore ways to achieve a solution based on scientific research and a better understanding of each state’s continental shelf delineation. Further to this understanding, government experts on the Beaufort Sea maritime boundary met in Ottawa on July 22nd 2010. This dialogue is an essential prerequisite to eventual resolution of the maritime boundary in the Beaufort Sea. The Government experts had a productive discussion on technical aspects related to the boundary and the extended continental shelf. They noted the importance to this dialogue of data about the extended continental shelf which will be collected and interpreted in the next few years. Experts agreed to meet again in the first half of 2011 in Washington, DC to continue discussions.
Recommendation Sixteen: The Committee recommends that the Government take the lead, along with other Arctic States, in the development of international regimes governing activities in the Arctic, outside of national sovereign territories.
The Arctic Council is the leading multilateral forum through which Arctic States address sustainable development and environmental protection issues in the region. Canada also takes a leadership role in advancing its Northern interests in other multilateral fora and regimes.
Through the Arctic Council, Canada has acted in many areas. As an example, Canada has made significant contributions to the 2007 Oil and Gas Assessment produced by the Arctic Council. The Assessment examined the impacts of current oil and gas activities in the Arctic and potential impacts related to possible future activities. It found that while extensive oil and gas exploration activity and production have occurred in parts of the Arctic, much potential exists for future oil and gas development. However, related risks need to be managed carefully. Consequently, in 2009, the Arctic Council updated its Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines. These guidelines recommend standards, technical and environmental best practices, management policy and regulatory controls for Arctic offshore oil and gas operations. Canada will act on the request from the Arctic Council that all states apply these guidelines as minimum standards throughout the Arctic and will encourage others to do so as well.
The Arctic Council states have also agreed to work together towards an international agreement on search and rescue operations for the Arctic by 2011. This agreement will seek to improve international coordination on Arctic search and rescue activity. The Search and Rescue Agreement will be the first legally binding instrument negotiated under the Arctic Council, including proper identification of search and rescue authorities and service providers in Arctic Council member countries and enhanced cooperation in execution of search and rescue missions. For this reason, it will serve as an important test case in informing the Council’s scope for future policy endeavors.
While the Arctic Council remains the leading forum for discussing Arctic issues, there are other multilateral institutions that govern activities outside of national sovereign territories that also apply in the Arctic region. In 2009, Arctic Council member states agreed to support the development of a mandatory polar code for shipping by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This decision was informed by the 2009 Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA), produced by the Arctic Council with significant Canadian participation. As an IMO member, Canada will continue to play a leading role in the development of this code.
The Arctic Council has also played a lead role in understanding the impacts of mercury and other pollutants on the Arctic. The Arctic Council has contributed to research on the effects of mercury in the North through the efforts of its Arctic Assessment and Monitoring Programme (AMAP). This work, and efforts by Canada and other member states, has contributed to the negotiations for a legally binding instrument on mercury taking place through the United Nations Environment Programme. These ongoing negotiations will be a key agenda item at the upcoming Ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in Nuuk, Greenland.
In addition, Canada, along with the Arctic Ocean coastal states at a ministerial meeting in Chelsea, has re-iterated that the extensive international legal frameworks developed through multilateral institutions provide a solid foundation for the peaceful use and responsible management of the Arctic. This follows the 2008 Ilulissat Declaration, which expressed the unique position of the Arctic Ocean coastal States in this area by virtue of their sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in large areas of the Arctic Ocean. Notably, this includes a legal framework for delineating the outer limits of the continental shelf under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). UNCLOS also addresses the protection of marine environment, including in ice-covered areas, freedom of navigation, marine scientific research, conservation and utilization of marine living resources, and other uses of the sea. UNCLOS explicitly recognizes the rights of coastal states such as Canada over the natural resources of the seabed and subsoil beyond 200 nautical miles from their coastal baselines and sets out a process by which a state may determine the limits within which it may exercise those rights.
Canada will secure international recognition for the full extent of its extended continental shelf wherein it can exercise its sovereign rights over the resources of the seabed and subsoil. Canada will make its submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in December 2013 and is currently engaged in the scientific, technical and legal work needed to delineate the outer limits of its continental shelf. Autonomous underwater vehicles – with Canadian technology at their heart – are being used to collect some of the necessary data. Canada is investing significantly to ensure that it secures international recognition for the full extent of its continental shelf in both the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.
A further example of a multilateral institution that touches on Arctic issues is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Climate change, a phenomenon which originates outside the Arctic, is having a significant impact on the region’s unique and fragile environment. Canada will continue to work constructively to implement the Copenhagen Accord and to complete the negotiations under the UNFCCC for a comprehensive, legally binding post-2012 agreement that is fair, effective and comprehensive.
Arctic-specific organizations such as the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians for the Arctic Region, the Northern Forum, and the University of the Arctic are also important partners on a variety of issues.
Recommendation Seventeen: The Committee recommends that the Government vigorously use its influence in relevant multilateral and bilateral fora in order to prevent the militarization of the Arctic.
The Committee recommends preventing the militarization of the Arctic through the promotion of peaceful and diplomatic resolution of international issues such as disputes over boundaries and access to natural resources. To this end, Canada will continue to show leadership in engaging our international Arctic partners to foster cooperation, diplomacy and respect for international law in the region, while continuing to exercise sovereignty over our Arctic territory as outlined in Canada’s Arctic foreign policy. Canada will continue to work closely with our Arctic partners in bilateral and multilateral fora to achieve these goals and to ensure that regional security issues are addressed through dialogue and cooperation.
Bilaterally, Canada is working with its circumpolar neighbours in order to attain peaceful resolution to outstanding boundary disputes such as the current disagreement between Canada and the United States in the Beaufort Sea. Canada favours a resolution to this dispute and the disagreement is well managed, neither posing defence challenges for Canada nor diminishing Canada’s ability to collaborate and cooperate with its Arctic neighbour. Canada will continue to manage this discrete boundary issue and will also, as a priority, seek to work with the US to explore the possibility of resolving it in accordance with international law.
In the 2008 Ilulissat Declaration, the Arctic Ocean coastal states expressed their commitment to the extensive international legal framework that applies to the Arctic Ocean and to the orderly settlement of any possible overlapping Arctic claims. This framework provides a solid foundation for responsible management by the five coastal states and other users of the Arctic Ocean through national implementations and application of relevant provisions. In 2010, the Arctic Ocean coastal states reaffirmed the importance of cooperation on Arctic Ocean issues, at a meeting hosted by Canada in Chelsea, Quebec.
Multilaterally, Canada is working closely with all Arctic Ocean states in pronouncing that existing international legal frameworks that apply to the Arctic Ocean provide a solid foundation for its peaceful use and responsible management. As previously mentioned, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) provides the legal basis for delineating continental shelves and goes well beyond this to address the protection of marine environment, freedom of navigation, marine scientific research, conservation and utilization of marine living resources, and other uses of the sea including ice-covered areas. Canada will make its submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in December 2013 and is currently engaged in the scientific, technical and legal work needed to delineate the outer limits of its continental shelf. Operating multilaterally to promote adherence to such legal regimes, and working through the International Maritime Organization in the development of a Polar Code, further demonstrates Canada’s commitment to peace and cooperation in the Arctic.
It must be noted, furthermore, that investments in Canadian Forces capabilities in the North enhance overall Government operations in the Arctic and do not detract from Canada’s commitment to a peaceful North. Safety and security challenges could become more pressing as the impact of climate change leads to enhanced activity throughout the region. These developments call for a comprehensive Government response to which the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, though not the lead, will contribute significantly. The defence of Canada, including in the Arctic, is the primary role of the Canadian Forces, who conduct regular Arctic operations to exercise our sovereignty in the region. The Canadian Forces also support other Government departments and agencies operating in the Arctic, who draw on the capabilities of the Canadian Forces to fulfill their Northern mandates.
The cultural interplay of service people serving in our North also has an intangible benefit in promoting a sense of national awareness among the military and the Northern residents who come in contact with the military. Defence activities also promote economic and social development through a number of initiatives. For example, the Junior Canadian Rangers and the Cadets programs in the territories are a positive factor in developing future generations of Northern leaders. Defence investments in the North such as the clean-up of DEW line radar sites and the construction of the Nanisivik facility also bring economic benefits to the North. Further, a military presence in the region provides Canada’s Aboriginal peoples with an opportunity to serve their country and community through participation in the Canadian Rangers.
In light of the significant changes occurring in the North, the Government of Canada has announced a number of initiatives since 2007 to enhance our capacity in the region and to exercise our sovereignty. These include significant new commitments to allow Canada to better monitor, protect and patrol its Arctic land, sea and air space, and to keep pace with changes in the region. For example, the Department of National Defence has begun to implement Project Polar Epsilon, which exploits the capabilities of RADARSAT 2 for wide-area surveillance of the region and of maritime approaches. Within the next decade, Canada will launch a new polar icebreaker, the largest and most powerful ever in the Canadian Coast Guard fleet. Many other initiatives are also underway to meet the changing security demands in the North and to increase the footprint of the Canadian Forces in the region (Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships, a naval berthing and refueling station, expansion and modernization of the Canadian Rangers, and the Northern Watch Technology Demonstration Project). These initiatives will heighten the Canadian Forces’ situational awareness and their capacity to contribute to the exercise of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.