This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Canada is going to host the top regional forum of the eight-nation Arctic Council on Wednesday, after which the two-year term will commence as rapid warming exposes the Far North to increasing threats, including more shipping, oil drilling and other hazards. Inuit and experts are hopeful that increased attention towards Canada will enforce Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to match talk of responsible development and stricter security with more leadership in Canada’s Arctic.
Ottawa is being increasingly pressurized by a substantial number of experts at Toronto’s Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program for meaningfully improving Canada’s Arctic marine and aviation infrastructure, which is not as good as its neighbours’. This is the second time that Canada is hosting the council meeting, as it first hosted the inaugural meeting in 1998, promising to promote co-operation, especially on sustainable development and environmental protection.
Director of programs at the Munk-Gordon Arctic, Sara French, stated that rising world interest in the Arctic has granted a good opportunity for Canada to lead. She pointed out that almost two years ago, council members agreed to work more closely together on Arctic air and sea search and rescue. Ms. French explained that “one of the ways it can show its leadership is to implement this agreement.” Furthermore, she added that “it’s important to know that only 10 per cent of Canadian Arctic waters are mapped to modern standards.” Ottawa has prioritized economic development, including so-called “responsible Arctic resource development,” and safe shipping to be the top priorities as Arctic Council chair.