“Canada will need to strengthen its Coast Guard by adding capabilities and equipment to cope with future demands,” says Senator William Rompkey, Chair of the Senate committee. “More thought must be given to its future role in projecting Canada’s sovereignty in the region.”
The committee recognizes that while the Arctic is an essential aspect of the Canadian national identity, it is first and foremost the homeland of Inuit – whose presence and continued use and stewardship of its resources anchor Canada’s sovereignty claims. The report calls on the Coast Guard to recruit Inuit whenever possible.
As sea ice recedes, the circumpolar region is becoming more accessible to commercial shipping, tourism and resource exploration activities, exposing Canada to increased maritime border problems with circumpolar neighbours and marine pollution threats. Canadian sovereignty concerns over the right to control shipping in the Northwest Passage exemplify the challenges raised in the report.
The purchase of new, “made-in-Canada” heavy ice-breakers capable of operating year-round in the Arctic Archipelago and on the extended continental shelf is one of 14 recommendations made by the committee. The Canadian Coast Guard provides aid to navigation, pollution control, Search and Rescue, and other services in the Arctic.
“Bolstering the capacity of the Coast Guard in the Arctic is necessary to safeguard the values, environment, security and economic interests of Canadians,” says Senator Ethel Cochrane, Deputy Chair of the Senate committee.
According to the findings of the committee, Canada needs to play an increased leadership role in international cooperation in the Arctic. The report suggests leadership can be demonstrated on issues relating to continental shelf claims and ensuring development of common codes for Arctic Ocean vessel activity which meet Canadian standards. Additionally, the report recommends all foreign ships that enter Canada’s Arctic waters should be required to register with Canada’s current voluntary vessel traffic system, NORDREG.
More domestic coordination is also recommended in the report. The committee calls for the creation of an Arctic Strategy Advisory Committee, led by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, to monitor and to advise in the development and implementation of an effective and integrated strategy for the North.
The “Rising to the Arctic Challenge” report is based on evidence presented to the committee during hearings held in Ottawa and in Nunavut.
A full list of report recommendations made by the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans can be found on the side menu bar.
The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans members are the following Honourable Senators: Chairperson William Rompkey, P.C. (Newfoundland and Labrador); Deputy Chairperson Ethel M. Cochrane (Newfoundland and Labrador); Willie Adams (Nunavut); Joan Cook (Newfoundland and Labrador); James Cowan (Nova Scotia); Elizabeth Hubley (Prince Edward Island); Janis G. Johnson (Manitoba); Michael L. MacDonald (Cape Breton – Nova Scotia); Fabian Manning (St. Bride’s – Newfoundland and Labrador); Nancy Greene Raine (Thompson-Okanagan-Kootenay – British Columbia); Fernand Robichaud, P.C. (New Brunswick); Charlie Watt (Inkerman – Quebec).
For more information, please visit: www.senate-senat.ca/fopo-e.asp.