Canadian International Council

Canadian International Council

August 13, 2008 14:12 ET

Canadian Ignorance of the Circumpolar World Can No Longer Be Tolerated

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 13, 2008) - Canada is scarcely aware of the circumpolar world as a distinct region for both international cooperation and conflict even with a frontage on the Arctic Ocean second only to Russia's, says Franklyn Griffiths in a paper released today by the Canadian International Council (CIC).

"We are not prepared right now to face the opportunities the Arctic offers us nor are we properly aware of the threats that lie just over the horizon of climate change and the need to adapt to it throughout the circumpolar North," writes Griffiths.

The Arctic is not merely what's ours but a vast region beyond which bears directly on what's ours, he insists. "We've nevertheless eliminated the position of Canadian Circumpolar Ambassador and allowed the Northern Dimension of Canadian Foreign Policy component to wither away. Despite our sometimes vocal attachment as Canadians to the North, these negative developments of our own making have been met with hardly a murmur of concern."

The author argues that if we don't soon engage actively in shaping the development of the Arctic as a region, the likely outcome for Canada over the next decades will be neither security nor sovereignty. "We've got to get serious about circumpolar politics and act now in concert with the other ice states and indigenous peoples for collective stewardship in the evolution of the Arctic as region in its own right."

Griffiths is a Senior Fellow, Massey College, University of Toronto, and the George Ignatieff Chair Emeritus of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Toronto and one of eight fellow chosen earlier this year by the CIC to contribute new perspectives and to spark debate and discussion in vital areas of Canadian foreign policy. The program's initial areas of focus for 2008-2009 include the following: China, Border Issues, Arctic Sovereignty and Security and Energy.

For more information on this paper, the CIC or the selected fellows please visit:

The Canadian International Council (CIC) is a non-partisan, nationwide council established to strengthen Canada's role in international affairs. With 13 branches nationwide, part of the CIIA national branch network, CIC seeks to advance research, discussion and debate on international issues by supporting a Canadian foreign policy network that crosses academic disciplines, policy areas, and economic sectors. The CIC will feature a privately funded fellowship program, supported by a network of issue-specific working groups. Carefully selected CIC fellows will focus on important foreign policy issues, working out of universities and research institutions across the country. The CIC was founded in 2007 by Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM (Research In Motion).

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