Canada asserts sovereignty over Northwest Passage; unsubtle message to Washington

Did anyone catch this one? The headline from Canada’s Global National reads “Protecting Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.” Protecting it from whom? Well, it turns out Washington was peeved by Ottawa’s highly symbolic dispatchal of armed icebreakers up to the Northwest Passage, because even token policing of these waters is an expression of at least the theoretical potential for denial of access to US nuclear submarines, which routinely violate Canadian sovereignty there. Canada has troops in Afghanistan (under NATO rubric), but has declined to join Washington’s “coalition of the willing” in Iraq. This assertion of national rights over the passage is meant to send a message to the White House that Canada is not a mere political and military appendage of the US – and is, perhaps, now closer to “Old Europe” than to its largest trading partner, the hegemon to the south…

Protecting Canada’s Arctic sovereignty
NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, Feb. 18 — It is a beautiful as it is barren, the vast sea ice that covers most of the Northwest passage
The ice so thick that only about 100 ships have successfully made the journey — at least, that we know of.

The U.S. Navy has, for years, sent its nuclear submarines under the ice, through portions of the passage, a route that passes hundreds of Canadian islands, through straits as narrow as 20 kilometres.

It’s a practice the new harper government says has to stop.

Parliamentary Secretary Jason Kenney says “Any foreign government should ask permission before entering our territorial waters, and they’ll take more seriously our approach to sovereignty if they know that we actually have assets up there.”

The U.S. feels because it is an international strait no permission is needed.

Sean McCormack of the U.S. State department agrees “We believe it is an International strait. It’s a longstanding policy of the U.S. government.”

It’s a belief shared by a lot of countries.

Analysts believe Denmark, Russia, Britain and others, have all ventured into arctic waters Canada claims as its own.

Jason Kenny says “If we’re serious about standing up for the true north strong and free, then we can’t just take a pass. It means an investment to have a real physical presence up there.”

Along with new electronic sensing equipment, and soldiers on patrol, the Conservative government has proposed to build a new deep-water port for three armed icebreakers.

The price tag for such an endeavour — $1 Billion Canadian.

The Globe & Mail, Feb. 10, indicates more such missions are planned–as well as new Arctic military bases:

Canadian soldiers gaze northward

Canadian soldiers are planning an epic series of Arctic trips this spring to reinforce sovereignty and prepare for emergencies arising from increased use of northern skies and waters.

Up to 52 soldiers in five patrols will snowmobile 4,500 kilometres, building airstrips on the sea ice, cataloguing buildings they spot on the way, and laying the groundwork for two High Arctic bases.

See our last post on the insidious Canadian menace to US global leadership.