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Breaking the Ice: How the Arctic is Changing

Canadians self-identify as a northern people, whose borders stretch from ‘Sea to Sea to Sea’, yet actual engagement with its northern territories and populations has been largely characterized by ignorance and benign neglect.

That, as a recent article by Nicholas LePan at Visual Capitalist points out, may have to change (see here). Already the northwest passage across the top of Canada is navigable for most of the year and global warming will make it and the surrounding territory even more accessible in future years.

Other countries are taking notice. In addition to the U.S., which has never accepted Canadian sovereignty over the ‘northwest passage’, Russia is taking meaningful action to re-militarize the Arctic, attempting to push their claim to exclusive sovereignty all the way to the North Pole. Even countries with no territorial claim are involving themselves. In January 2018 China declared it was a ‘near Arctic state’ and a desire to incorporate a ‘Polar Silk Road’ as part of its ‘Belt and Road’ development initiatives. It has since made significant diplomatic and resource extraction investments in both Iceland and Greenland.

Canada’s response to sovereignty, development, and safeguarding of the Arctic ecology has not yet emerged as a major policy issue in our politics. That, too, needs to change.

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