If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a quiet increase in federal spending in our high north.
- In 2007, Harper allocated $3Billion to purchase 8 ice-capable patrol ships.
- Just the other day, Canada and the US signed off on a deal to map the continental shelf under the Beaufort Sea.
- MacDonald Dettwiler (think: cdn arm of the space shuttle) just signed a $4M contract with the Cdn. Space Agency to come up with a concept for better satellite monitoring of the north.
- And Indian and Northern Affairs Canada has the Go for a world class High Arctic Research Station, starting with $2M for the feasibility study and an ultimate budget in the $85M range
All this, of course, is to politely underscore Canada’s sovereignty claims. Growing up in Yellowknife, I little dreamed the Canadian north would one day be of such international interest. But then I little dreamed of climate change either – and all the implications of an ice-free arctic ocean during the summer months, estimated to occur either next summer or within 5 years.
Two of the implications are:
- Oil and Gas available – the Arctic is estimated to contain up to 25% of the world’s remaining reserves.
- Northwest Passage created. (remember grade 6 social studies? about the Europeans wanting to find a way to traverse the globe but encountering the impenetrable arctic, so going south instead?).
This means all kinds of interesting things. Who gets to extract the oil? And should the oil be extracted? And are the waters between the Canadian islands Canadian waters (we say) or International (U.S. says)?
Keep your eyes lookin’ north, readers. Things are – dare I say – heating up around here.
Photo Credit: Ezioman (photo taken in greenland)