Liberals fail to send government representatives to defend Canada’s Arctic claims
If Canada is serious about defending sovereignty over its Arctic archipelago, Ottawa needs to develop better infrastructure there and start with a permanent military base, says the only MP who attended the International Arctic Forum held in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“The conversation was that it’s international waters. From a Canadian perspective we lay claim to it, but the international community is really looking at it as international waters,” said David Yurdiga, Conservative MP for Fort McMurray–Cold Lake Alberta.
“There are plans to open up the Northwest Passage and connect it as part of international shipping lanes, as they call it…even the U.S. says it’s international waters.”
Canada’s jurisdiction over the waterway was last publicly questioned at the meeting of Arctic Council nations in Finland, where U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Canada’s claim ‘illegitimate’.
This triggered the usual domestic social media politicking, beginning with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s take:
Not to be outdone by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland:
But back in the real world, nobody cares about Canada’s claims to our Arctic archipelago, except for us, said Yurdiga. And barely a month before Scheer and Freeland duked it out on Twitter, in St. Petersburg, according to Yurdiga, only department staff attended the International Arctic Forum – not MPs, nor ministers.
“I was really shocked there was no representative from the government,” Yurdiga said. “We have international communities talking about these as international waters, and we have nobody from the Canadian government pushing back on our sovereignty. We’ve got to be an active player.”
Canada-Russia relations have reached new lows since Vladimir Putin’s regime annexed the Crimea in Ukraine in 2014 and then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper slapped sanctions on Russia and admonished Putin at G20 that year.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is also banned from visiting Russia since March of 2014; one of 13 Canadians blacklisted by the Putin regime in retaliation for Canadian sanctions against it for expansionist machinations.
Bilateral relations with Russia aside, our closest ally could care less about our Arctic nautical claim, and also disputes another offshore demarcation in the Beaufort Sea along 141st meridian between Yukon and Alaska. The seabed between this sliver likely contains rich oil and gas deposits.
While Canada has one dirt road – the Dempster Highway – connecting the rest of the nation to the Arctic Ocean, and a dilapidated railroad from Winnipeg to Churchill, Manitoba and Hudson’s Bay, Yurdiga said other countries are scaling up their ambitions.
“We see Russia building, there’s no more talk about diesel icebreakers, I mean Russia’s building at least nine nuclear icebreakers,” he told The Post Millennial. “Also they’re adding liquid natural gas to fuel these icebreakers.”
Also in May, Canada welcomed the diesel-powered, medium-icebreaker CCGS Captain Molly Kool , the fleet’s first new icebreaker in 25 years.
“I had three conversations with the President of Finland (Sauli Niinistö), one on how important the next stages of an alternate trade route through the Arctic is to them that will save a lot of time and money,” said Yurdiga. “That’s why they’re investing in icebreakers, Finland, Iceland and Russia. China was also part of the forum’s conversation – China sees a big benefit too.”
So what does Canada need to do to protect her interests, and sovereignty?
“First of all, a military presence, a base up there. Not a summer base but where we’re there year round. To promote our sovereignty over the North, we’ve got to be there,” Yurdiga said.
The Alberta MP also said targeted infrastructure investment that can integrate resource extraction in the North to its domestic refinement closer to the Canada-U.S. border is also key.
“We’ve got to figure out a means to get our product to market economically, and hopefully we can process the ore in the south, which will create more jobs.”
Public opinion is growing skeptical on promoting more and new economic ties with China, Canada’s second largest trading partner after the US, according to an Angus Reid poll.
The survey polled 1,499 Canadians and found that Canadians’ positive views of trade with China are starting to wane. The now yearlong imprisonment of two Canadians by Beijing was a recent development in the changing attitude towards the super power.
Many Canadians responded with concerns for human rights in China, and seven-in-ten felt the rule of law should take greater precedence in our relationship. That number is up from the last time Angus Reid polled Canadians on the issue back in February 2019, when 62 percent of people said the same.
In 2015, the poll found that 62 percent said that we should increase trade ties with China in the future, that number dropped by 40 percent this year, now only 22 percent of people feel that way.
Two thirds of Canadians now hold an unfavourable view of China, a number that was only 51 percent back in 2018.
Ottawa has had close ties with Beijing in the past due to the country’s roaring economy needing lots of natural resources.
During Chretien’s time as Prime minister he sent many large delegations of cabinet ministers and government officials on trade junkets to China.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited China on a state visit back in 2017 in an attempt to kick-start free trade talks with Beijing but the trip was ultimately unsuccessful.
Trade only looks increasingly bleak with the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and detentions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
Ninety percent of respondents said China can’t be trusted on human rights and the rule of law.
The overall views on trade with China were mixed. While respondents were more likely to acknowledge that trade with China has a negative impact on our economy and communities they also felt it was to Canada’s economic benefit as a whole.
The highest level of negative sentiment towards China’s restrictions on beef and canola export came from Alberta and Saskatchewan, the two provinces affected most by the restrictions.
The future of trade was a close split in terms of Canadians optimism towards the relationship. Fifty-four percent of respondents to the poll said that the current diplomatic spat will sort itself out and things will go “back to normal.” While the other forty-six percent felt the relationship is in long-term trouble.
There are moments when it begins to become clear that there has been a sea-change in public opinion.
And with it now being a year since Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested and held hostage by communist China, such a moment has arrived.
The clearest example is what happened to Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, who Tweeted what he apparently thought would be an innocuous photo of his meeting with China’s ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu.
Bowman was absolutely slammed for the Tweet, which went so far as to “thank” the ambassador for the meeting and mentioned working on “human rights,” while completely ignoring China’s horrific human rights record and failing to mention anything about Canada’s detained Citizens.
Bowman was totally ratioed, with over 500 comments and just a couple-dozen retweets. Bowman was slammed by some MPs, and even by Canada’s former ambassador to China.
But it was the response of regular Canadians that really stood out. People from across the political spectrum were outraged by Bowman’s fawning weakness.
The response reflected something that has been bubbling below the surface among Canadians: A real awakening to the danger posed by communist China, and a sense that enough is enough.
We Canadians are generally an easy-going people, but we have a strong inherent sense of right and wrong. And while the Canadian political and business elites may be able to overlook China’s actions, the Canadian People are not overlooking it.
Canadians have turned against China’s communist government, with surveys showing 90 percent having a negative view of the government led by Xi Jinping.
Whether it’s the destruction of freedom in Hong Kong, holding Canadians hostage, putting millions of Uighurs in concentration camps, forced organ harvesting, or the Orwellian surveillance state, Canadians are looking at China and seeing a country that simply doesn’t share our values, and is in many ways hostile to Canada itself.
There was a time when someone like Brian Bowman could have gotten away with his fawning Tweet, but that time has passed. Sooner or later, Canada’s elites will be forced to realize that they can’t hide the truth about China’s government, and they can’t suppress the real views of Canadians.
The pressure is mounting for a tougher approach to China, for reducing our reliance on China, and to move towards a political and economic decoupling from the ruthless communist State. Whether it starts happening now or down the road, the demands of the Canadian People will be translated into policy one way or another.
Greta Thunberg has joined up with 15 more young climate activists. They have claimed that Canada and Norway are violating the rights of children throughout the world with their oil and gas production.
The activist’s claim that the higher output of fossil-fuel production violates the countries obligations in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Hausfeld LLP released a statement noting that the youths have sent letters to both Canada and Norway addressing the countries’ fossil-fuel production. The letter contrasted the plan with the two countries’ self-proclaimed titles of leaders in climate change.
In the letter to Trudeau dated Dec. 10, it says, “Canada must apply its international climate leadership to all domestic action,” the letter also says, “It must demonstrate how a major fossil fuels producer and exporter can transition away from these pollutants, blazing a trail for other fossil fuel-reliant economies to follow.”
The letter covers Canada’s Line 3 pipeline that stretches from Alberta to Wisconsin as well as the Trans Mountain pipeline. Canada’s oil production could be raised 10 percent by the addition of the Line 3 pipeline alone.
The letter also says that Canada “must end the development and export of new oil and gas reserves, and set a plan to quickly phase out existing production fields,” and adds, “It must stop prioritizing short-term economic gains over the future of its children and all children around the world.”
The letter requested that Trudeau deliver a response in the following two weeks. The request was sent to Jonathan Wilkinson who is the new environment minister for Trudeau.
Wilkinson’s spokesperson, Moira Kelly, wrote an email saying, “Young people and Canadians across the country are counting on us for accelerated action on climate change,” she added, “We hear them, and all of the Canadians who sent a clear message this election, that continuing to fight climate change needs to be a priority.”
“We know we need to make a transition to a cleaner economy and we know that this will not happen overnight,” said Kelly, “We are committed to taking thoughtful solutions with Canadians to ensure that the clean economy is affordable for everyone.”
In 2018, Canada pumped more oil than Iraq, OPEC’s second largest supplier, according to data from BP Plc. By 2040, crude output is projected to increase by close to 50 percent, according to Canada Energy Regulator.
A Conservative motion to create a Canada-China relations committee to study the current relationship between the two states has passed, with the help of every party but the Liberals.
The Conservative call to action interestingly came on the one year anniversary of the detention of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in torture-like conditions in China.
While the defeat at the combined hands of the NDP, some Greens, the Bloc, and Conservatives will not cause a defeat, as it is not a vote of confidence, it will likely send signals that there could be troubles when it comes to the negotiations needed to keep a minority government lasting.
With the vote passed, there will be a formation of a special House of Commons committee with a mandate to hold hearings on Canada-China relationship, “including, but not limited to consular, economic, legal, security and diplomatic relations.”
The committee will include 12 members, of which six will be liberal and six opposition.
The committee will have all the powers of a normal House committee.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.