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Senate Report: Worry about Canada’s coastlines, not the Arctic

A Senate report released today says the government is wasting time and money trying to “defend” the Arctic:

“Disagreements over Canada’s sovereignty in these (Arctic) waters are not going to be settled through the use of gunboats,’ says the 124-page report. “They will be settled through the use of diplomacy or in the courts. Canada’s Navy is not trained or equipped for icebreaking, nor is it the right agency to exert Canadian sovereignty in the North. Draining the navy’s already inadequate budget to play such an inappropriate role makes no military sense.”

I think the key part of the Senate Report is this question and statement it makes here:

“The key element of the government’s new defence policy is Canada First,” says the report. “Why then, is there nothing in the planning that recognizes the basic need to defend Canada’s coastlines? This policy is going to amount to a hoax if thousands of miles of Canadian coastline is left unguarded.

I think it already is a hoax. This policy was announced in my opinion to show to Canadians that Harper is as nationalist as anyone else, and designed to mute criticism that he was Bush’s favourite lackey. The Senate report more or less confirms that this was just a PR stunt, and the government would be wise to follow the recommendations the Senate report lays out that Canada should and could be doing instead.

1 comment to Senate Report: Worry about Canada’s coastlines, not the Arctic

  • Lord Kitchener's Own

    From what I read, a more accurate headline might be “Worry about Canada’s coastlines, not JUST the Arctic”.

    The report does include mention of more icebreakers for the Arctic (the current ones are over 30 years old apparently) including, I think, that they be “armed” icebreakers (the G&M refers to the report, saying “The committee calls on the government to buy three year-round icebreakers, to be managed by an armed Canadian Coast Guard with policing powers” which certainly suggest to me a much less robust “warship” type icebreaker than the Tories suggested, but still, possibly one with a mounted machine gun, and CERTAINLY, at the least, that the crew of the icebreakers would be armed). It does also though CLEARLY indicate that while the icebreakers should be purchased, they’re certainly not priority #1.

    I think, from the reports I’ve read, that this proposal seems well thought out and reasonable. Coastal patrol (including Arctic sovereignty patrols) does seem to be a better fit for a more robust Coast Guard (whom the committee says does many thinge extremely well, but does NOT, ironically, currently guard our coasts), and I’d be surprised if even the Navy objected, as I’d doubt they necessarily see coastal patrols of this nature as part of their role, and would rather focus on other imperatives instead.

    This report really reads to me as something the Tories could support, or at least use as a basis for bipartisan discussion about what’s best for Canada.

    I won’t hold my breath though.

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