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I remember during the election campaign that there were only a couple things Stephen Harper promised that I would be okay with. One of them was reinforcing Canada’s sovereignty in the arctic.

It’s only been in the last few years that I found out that most countries (if any) don’t recognize Canada’s claim to the waters around our northern islands as internal waters. I’m not sure exactly why this is unsettling to me. Perhaps it’s just because I’ve always taken for granted that that whole area was ours.

On the surface it doesn’t really matter that much right now, but the northwest passage is becoming more and more of a reality every year. I don’t know how far down the road it will be, but eventually the area could become a well used shipping route. Even now there are rumours of American, Russian, and other countries’ submarines in those waters. I think this article has a great idea on how to deal with that particular threat.

And there are environmental concerns. If Canada does not exercise soverignty over these waters, then we have no way of controlling traffic, pollution, and protecting life native to the region.

My problem is mostly that I just don’t know what the international standard for these things are. The water between Hawaii and America are definitely not internal waters. What about the stretch between Kyushu and Okinawa of Japan? Honshu and Shigoku? Australia and Tasmania? There’s a set distance out from the shore you have to go before hitting international waters, right? If you apply that to the arctic islands (which you probably should), do you end up with regions outside our jurisdiction? Or do you hit the neighbouring islands first?

The population up there is pretty scarce, but there are villages as far north as Ellesmere Island. I think as much of the area as is possible should be protected, perhaps as a national park, or at least with safeguards in place to protect the natural environment from… well, ourselves.

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