Who is serious about Sovereignty of the North?
CHRIS MACLEAN
© 2010 FrontLine Defence (Vol 7, No 5)

If “Sovereignty” is exercising power and authority over a dominion, and the prime directive of government is to safeguard its citizens, can we truly justify sovereignty claims of our Northern lands simply through a few joint exercises held up there during the more hospitable months of the year? The simple answer is no.

If we truly are serious about sovereignty of the North, then northern bases are a must. The argument that there is no “appetite” for northern bases is a clear example of last-century thinking that will not advance Canada’s long term goal.
 
And to think we can effectively safeguard our northern citizens and increasing numbers of visitors when our search and rescue services are a full 10 hours away (in Trenton or Winnipeg), is an irresponsible assertion that is based on the “it costs too much” mentality.
 
The Canadian Rangers are one undeniable part of the answer, and the Junior Rangers are the future of the Canadian North. After all, they want to live in the North, not just during “good” weather. If we are to solidify our sovereignty, we must stop marginalizing the Inuit people. By enrolling the Junior Rangers in flight schools, training them to operate unmanned vehicles of all sorts, teaching them to read and analyze sensor output, Canada will be able to provide job opportunities and long term economic stability which will go a long way to solidifying our continued right to call the lands and waterways of the north “Canada.”
 
Unmanned vehicles for both surveillance and search functions provides another piece to the sovereignty/security puzzle. Ongoing R&D will ensure these vehicles can operate in such extreme climate, but the economics, coupled with the capability offered by such technology can no longer be denied or sidelined.
 
A true northern priority will see more assets directed northwards before it is too late. As more aggressive countries turn an envious eye to the Canadian North, jet fighters will probably continue to be necessary for maintaining security over our sovereign air space. Helicopters will be necessary for rescue services, fixed wing planes will be important for transport, ships will be necessary for asserting authority of our waterways among other duties.
 
Canadians get it. When will the politicians?

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© FrontLine Defence 2010

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