Harper v Bush administration: a lover’s tiff

Our new Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the man who wrote a letter of apology to American newspapers when Canada didn’t join in invading Iraq to stop the weapons of mass destruction, has already started a kerfuffle with the US on his first week on the job. Despite continually criticizing the Liberals’ poor relations with the Republicans in Washington Harper’s picked on the scab of Artic sovereignty.

One of Harper’s more bizarre campaign promises was the promise to assert Canada’s sovereignty over the Artic, promising to spend over $5.3 billion to make sure that nobody ever forgets that Canada controls the coldest uninhabitable streches of ice water on earth. According to the CBC [cbc] Harper’s plans to protect the north against the Americans, Russians and Danes will require “the construction and deployment of three new armed heavy icebreaking ships, as well as the eventual construction of a $2-billion deepwater port in Iqaluit and an underwater network of ‘listening posts.'”

I’m not a fan of Bush, nor cosey relations with the US when it means sending troops into foreign countries, but I’d suggest Harper pick his battles. Why the heck do we want to spend billions of dollars making sure that polar bears are a Canadian animal instead of a Danish one?

Mark my words, someone thinks there’s oil up there or else we wouldn’t be going through this rigamarole.

3 Comments so far

  1. Ryan C (unregistered) on January 27th, 2006 @ 12:15 am

    Jeffery: two things drive this little game. First, this is an easy against-type issue for PM Harper, since he is often accused of being too cosy with our southern neighbours. Since he cares about northern sovereignty (there are complicated geopolitical reasons for doing so, but Canada is not yet fully exploiting well-known oil deposits in much more comfortable latitudes, so wildcatting in the far north will wait), this is an easy issue to use.

    Second, the Northwest Passage may someday open. That news item I’ve linked to seems a little breathless, but this isn’t a trivial prospect, and a trans-arctic shipping route, even a summer-only one, would be a very valuable route indeed.

    Territorial claims are a kind of use-it-or-lose-it proposition. One reason the US and other nations test the northern route is to demonstrate that Canada isn’t sovereign over that territory.

    It doesn’t hurt that this gives us another tool when we bargain with the US over stuff like softwood lumber tariffs and whatnot. The fact that Harper doesn’t routinely use the existence of the US as a stick with which to whip up national (Liberal) fervor will help US-Canada relations more than asserting control over the Northwest Passage will harm them.

  2. Jeffery Simpson (unregistered) on January 27th, 2006 @ 12:48 am

    “The fact that Harper doesn’t routinely use the existence of the US as a stick with which to whip up national (Liberal) fervor will help US-Canada relations more than asserting control over the Northwest Passage will harm them.”

    That’s assuming the Bush administration cares more about what the Canadian public thinks than it does the issues. Bush understands playing to his base and probably will forgive Harper for grandstanding on certain issues, however if Harper’s actions were to interfer with America’s own interests then the cuddle fest would end.

    As for softwood it’s likely that’s going to end soon anyay. America has lost that in any court it’s taken it to, and the fact is the current situation is hurting American housing starts and only helping a small number of American forrestry professionals.

  3. Sember (unregistered) on February 2nd, 2006 @ 7:11 am

    DND currentley has a manned listening post in the Arctic approxiametly 500 km south of the North Pole. The station is called “Alert” and is manned year round. It is no secret within the military we’ve had foreign subs “snooping” around the north for decades. The first Nations have known this for a long time from witness accounts of Subs surfacing in Northern areas. We’ve asserted soveriegnty before when the Americans sent the “Mayflower” into our waters. I think with the increasing importance of the Northern waters, we should patrol the Northern waters. If we don’t, someone else will.

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