Canadian International Council

Canadian International Council

July 26, 2009 12:00 ET

Defence, Diplomacy and Development Essential to Canadian Government's Arctic Strategy

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 26, 2009) - It is time for the Canadian government to unveil a comprehensive Arctic strategy that focuses on a 3-D approach - defence, diplomacy and development - states a new report released today by the Canadian International Council (CIC).

From Polar Race to Polar Saga: An Integrated Strategy for Canada and the Circumpolar World argues that Canada needs to integrate its defence and resource development agenda with stronger diplomatic and social dimensions to devise a long-anticipated, constructive, Northern strategy.

This strategy includes international cooperation, fixating less on perceived sovereignty loss and encouraging sustainable socio-economic development.

"Despite persistent talk of a 'polar race,' the Arctic is not a lawless frontier and solutions to boundary disputes will be negotiated, not won or lost through military posturing, writes Whitney Lackenbauer, author of the report and a CIC fellow. "This is simply a distortion of the truth."

Dr. Lackenbauer adds, "The Canadian-American disagreement over the legal status of the Northwest Passage is a longstanding issue that has been successfully managed, and does not support the nationalistic myth that the United States has deliberately and systematically sought to undermine Canadian sovereignty."

Dr. Lackenbauer says seizing our northern destiny, not out of fear, but with confidence and a sense of national purpose, will contribute to a stronger and more prosperous Canada, as well as a stable and constructive circumpolar world, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a crucial role to play in making this happen.

"Prime Minister Harper has an opportunity to build his reputation as the most Northern-oriented prime minister in Canadian history," says Dr. Lackenbauer. "In contrast to our European allies and circumpolar neighbours, who have outlined coherent northern visions and are beginning to enact them, Canada seems to be asleep at the switch."

The report contains many recommendations for a more meaningful 3-D engagement in the Arctic, such as: (1) sustainable and realistic expansion and enhancement of the Canadian Rangers, (2) establishing an Arctic marine security operation centre, (3) creation of a domestic Arctic Canada Council, (4) reinstating the position of Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, (4) developing an Arctic climate strategy, as well as (5) creating Inuit marine councils brought together as a Canadian Arctic Marine Environment Working Group under the aegis of the proposed Arctic Canada Council.

The report concludes the federal government needs to be more systematic and proactive in its Arctic strategy.

Dr. Lackenbauer is associate professor and chair of the history department at St. Jerome's University at the University of Waterloo and one of eight fellows chosen by the CIC to contribute new perspectives leading to further debate and discussion in vital areas of Canadian foreign policy. The program's initial areas of focus for 2008-09 are: China, border issues, Arctic sovereignty and security and energy.

For more information about From Polar Race to Polar Saga: An Integrated Strategy for Canada and the Circumpolar World or the CIC, please visit: www.canadianinternationalcouncil.org.

The Canadian International Council (CIC) is a non-partisan, nationwide council established to strengthen Canada's role in international affairs. With 13 branches nationwide, the 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 features a privately funded fellowship program, supported by a network of issue-specific working groups. Carefully selected CIC fellows 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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