Ottawa (AFP) May 13, 2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's tough talk on defending Canada's Arctic is apparently more bluster or "frosty rhetoric" than substantive, according to US cables leaked Friday.
Harper's government has routinely touted Canadian sovereignty over the vast, desolate north as a "very high priority" and has publicly called for increased militarization of the Arctic to protect Canada's disputed claims in the region.
The prime minister himself has announced plans for a sensor net, more navy patrols and airport improvements, and a military training camp in the far north.
The country also has stepped up its military alertness along its northern frontier, according to Defense Minister Peter MacKay, largely in response to Russian "testing" its boundaries with military flights skirting the border, a practice not seen since the Cold War.
However, cables released by website WikiLeaks indicate that US diplomats in Ottawa viewed Harper's aggressive statements as mere posturing and a partisan strategy to win voter support.
In private talks with US ambassador David Jacobson, say the cables, Harper was "more pragmatic."
Harper's election promises on the Arctic have been "seldom implemented," they noted. "The armed ice-breakers and ocean sensors that candidate Harper promised in the 2006 election have been forgotten."
And an account of a January 2010 meeting between Harper and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the prime minister as rebuffing a proposed NATO deployment in the Arctic.
"According to Prime Minister Harper, Canada has a good working relationship with Russia with respect to the Arctic, and a NATO presence could backfire by exacerbating tensions," said the cable.
A poll taken in January found a majority of Canadians rank the Arctic as their top foreign policy priority and support a strengthened military presence in the north to protect against international threats.
To underscore his government's commitment to the Arctic, Harper has visited the region every summer since taking office in 2006 and has held occasional cabinet meetings in the territorial capitals.
Harper's office declined to comment on the cables, but said in an email to AFP: "Under the leadership of our prime minister, our government has delivered on our commitments to defend Canadian sovereignty in the north.
"We are investing in the tools to protect and promote our northern sovereignty and we will continue to defend Canadian interests," it said.
According to the US Geological Survey, the Arctic seabed holds up to 90 billion barrels of oil and 30 percent of the world's untapped gas resources.
Arctic nations are locked in a tight race to gather evidence to support their overlapping claims as research suggests global warming could leave the region ice free by 2030, opening up navigation and access for oil rigs to the sea floor.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that any coastal state can claim undersea territory 200 nautical miles from their shoreline and exploit the natural resources within that zone.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Beyond the Ice Age
Change is the order of the day in the Arctic
Copenhagen, Denmark (SPX) May 12, 2011
Climate change in the Arctic is occurring at a faster and more drastic rate than previously assumed, according to experts attending the AMAP conference in Copenhagen. The latest scientific data show that developments in the Arctic's climate are closely related to developments in the rest of the world. "The order of the day in the Arctic right now is change. But we shouldn't expect that tho ... read more
Japan SOS mayor vows to save town near nuclear plant|
Tornado damage raises building questions
Quake-hit Japan pottery town picking up pieces
Radioactive ash found in Tokyo sewage plant: reports
US judge sides with Kodak in Apple patent dispute
Silver cycle: New evidence for natural synthesis of silver nanoparticles
NIST super-stable laser shines in minivan experiment
Making strong, tough metallic glass cheaply
First ocean acidification buoy installed off Alaska
Water for Mongolia
Egyptian PM in Ethiopia for Nile talks
Scientists urge ocean drilling observation
Canada PM's Arctic stand 'frosty rhetoric'
States set rules on exploiting Arctic wealth
Antarctic icebergs help the ocean take up carbon dioxide
Change is the order of the day in the Arctic
India's top court imposes ban on 'toxic' pesticide
Drought tolerance in crops: Shutting down the plant's growth inhibition under mild stress
New Strategy Aims to Reduce Agricultural Ammonia
'Liquid smoke' from rice shows potential health benefits
Local tsunami alert after 6.5 quake off Papua New Guinea
US bid to save Louisiana cities from historic flooding
One-eighth of quake-hit Spanish city damaged
Flood waters diverted onto Louisiana towns, farms
Outside View: Kenya mobile banking network
Humanity can and must do more with less
Burkina Faso ruling party says opposition aiming for coup
Chinese army gives rocket launchers, weapons to Sierra Leone
Ancient rock carvings found in Sudan
New method for engineering human tissue regeneration
Indian brides told to put down their mobile phones
Super-healing researcher follows intuition
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|