Arctic Sovereignty: New Challenges and Opportunities

Presentation by Dr Adam Lajeunesse, Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Arctic Marine Security, Mulroney Institute of Government, Saint Francis Xavier University, made by video-conference to RUSI(NS) and guests 29 April 2020.

As the Arctic ice melts and the Northwest Passage opens to new activity, the question of sovereignty has returned to the fore. The definition of those waters, as either internal or international, has been a matter of dispute between Canada and the United States for at least 50 years, but in the age of climate change the matter has taken on a new urgency.

Over the past several years, the US Coast Guard has begun recapitalizing its fleet, the US Navy has spoken openly of Freedom of Navigation voyages through Canadian waters, whilst China – calling itself a ‘Near Arctic State’ – has announced a building plan that would see its icebreaker fleet surpass that of Canada.

This presentation examined some of the evolving political opportunities and risks in the North, how Canada is (and should be) responding, and what the country can do to leverage the growth of foreign activity in the North to bolster its national sovereignty.

A PDF of the presentation slides is available here.

RUSI(NS) Staff

Editorial Staff at RUSI (NS). This work is the sole opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Canadian Department of National Defence, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the Royal United Services Institute of Nova Scotia.