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Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
House of Commons / Chambre des communes
Comité permanent des affaires étrangères et du développement international

For immediate release


Foreign Affairs Committee Presents Comprehensive Report on the Arctic

Ottawa, April 10, 2019 -

Today, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development presented a unanimous report in the House of Commons entitled Nation-Building at Home, Vigilance Beyond: Preparing for the Coming Decades in the Arctic.

The Committee studied a part of Canada, and a region of the world, that is undergoing profound change. The long-term trend in the Arctic toward a more accessible maritime space is generating interest, including on the part of a globally ambitious China, in the viability of Arctic shipping routes. At the same time, Russia has been modernizing its military capabilities and has demonstrated a willingness to challenge the rules-based international order.

Many of the recommendations in the Committee’s report are focused on ensuring that the Canadian government is able to assert, now and decades into the future, exclusive and effective control over Canada’s Arctic waters and territory through domain awareness, regulation, stewardship, and enforcement capabilities.

That said, and as the title of the Committee’s report makes clear, vigilant foreign and defence policies are essential but not, on their own, enough to realize Canada’s objectives as an Arctic nation. Policies in these areas must be combined with nation-building at home.

The Arctic is a fundamental and indivisible part of Canada. As such, the Committee has concluded that it is time to move beyond the long-standing preoccupation with “sovereignty” as concerns Canada’s Arctic. It is the Committee’s hope that this report can help to redirect the focus of the national debate toward concern with the realization of Northern aspirations through meaningful partnerships, particularly with Indigenous communities, and the reinforcement of national defence and security in the Arctic through concrete investments in capabilities.

The Committee’s report makes 28 recommendations to the Government of Canada that address, among other issues, the infrastructure deficit in the country’s North, the replacement of Canada’s icebreaking fleet and the North Warning System, the delimitation of Canada’s extended continental shelf in the Arctic, the country’s approach to Arctic science, knowledge and research, and Indigenous rights in relation to circumpolar diplomacy.

In developing this report, the Committee greatly benefited from the information that was brought to its attention in Iqaluit, Cambridge Bay, Inuvik and Yellowknife. The report’s executive summary and recommendations are available in Inuktitut, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun and Wiiliideh.

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For more information, please contact:
Erica Pereira, Clerk of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
Tel: 613-996-1540