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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How serious are Tory intentions in the high north?

The Royal Canadian Air Force has considered expanding operations and facilities at Resolute Bay, Nunavut to make it a main operating base for Arctic operations. According to documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen and reported on in the National Post, “The construction of a 3,000 metre paved runway, hangars, fuel installations and other infrastructure has been proposed as part of an effort to support government and military operations in the North.”

The RCAF, apparently, is also considering a forward operating base on Ellesmere Island, which would require the expansion of current facilities at Eureka, Nunavut. In so doing, our Forces could rebuild the existing facilities at Station Alert on Ellesmere Island, which is currently used for the interception of communications.

I’m all for paving and lengthening the runway at Resolute Bay—it currently has a 1,981-metre gravel runway—to allow fighter aircraft to operate in the far north and search and rescue operations to be centered there. And expanded operations at Resolute Bay would also be a key element in any Arctic development we undertake as we reinforce our sovereignty over this strategically important region.

I hope this is not just another Arctic proposal with more to do with attracting votes than enforcing sovereignty in the North. This has been a speciality of Conservative governments for far too long. It is unacceptable that Canada, which owns so much of the Artic, has virtually no effective naval, military or aerospace presence in that region. In this respect, we lag behind other countries that claim strategic interests in the Artic.

I’ll not feel comfortable with the level of our Conservative government’s commitment to the Artic until I see high-sounding words turn into action. Our leaders talk a good game, but are they really players?

© 2011 Russell G. Campbell

4 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. A bit off topic, but is the government going to undo all the damage the Liberals did to the now and former RCAF - specifically will they restore the original RAF style uniform and rank structure?

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  2. I believe the current Conservative-instigated ship building plans for the RCN would indicate they take the issue of Arctic sovereignty very seriously.

    Within five years we will have armed icebreakers capable of patrolling the Arctic seas,something we have never had before.

    With ships and aircraft in place,we will be able to confront any encroachment by Russia or other interested Countries.

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  3. I also hope that this is not just talk, as I would like to see action here.

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  4. Except there is no threat to our land sovereignty in the North; as for the Northwest Passage almost no-one, including the US, EU and Japan accepts our claim that it is "inland waters"--and in fact our legal claim is pretty shaky. And there are no indications that settling various countries' claims to resources on the seabed beyond 200 mile EEZs will not be done in accordance with the Law of the Sea Convention, a process of claim-staking that is now underway.

    More at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute's "3Ds Blog" (see further links at end):

    "Subs/Chinese Arctic Threat Hoo-Hah"

    Mark
    Ottawa

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