Canada heats up Arctic border talks

Arctic coastal states are meeting in Chelsea, Quebec, next month to discuss divvying up the region's vast territory and resources.

Arctic coastal states are meeting in Chelsea, Quebec, next month to discuss divvying up the region’s vast territory and resources.

Canada is hosting a day-long ministers’ meeting on March 29 that will exclude the Arctic Council and several circumpolar aboriginal groups.

By winnowing the pool of Canada’s partners in the Arctic, bureaucrats will lose expertise built up in the Arctic Council, said Larry Bagnell, the Yukon’s member of Parliament.

“Why not use the knowledge and research that’s already there?” said Bagnell, who has attended the council’s meetings on behalf of Canada.

Snubbing the council means only Russia, the United States, Norway, Canada and Denmark will meet to discuss territorial issues. Iceland, Sweden and Finland – all members of the council – have not been invited to next month’s tete-a-tete.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon will debrief the council’s chair, Denmark’s foreign minister, following the Chelsea meeting, said Alain Cacchione, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Finland’s minister has also agreed to the arrangement, wrote Cacchione in an e-mail.

However, by dismissing the council, several aboriginal groups, such as the Arctic Athabascan Council and the Gwich’in Council International, will be left out of the loop as the race for Arctic resources heats up.

“If the government is going to be talking about economic development, then the people of the Arctic should be invited to discuss economic development in the Arctic,” said Pita Aatami, acting president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami in Canada, in an interview with the CBC News.

Cannon will meet with members from the council’s advisory committee, which include the aboriginal groups, before the meeting, wrote Cacchione.

“The Arctic Ocean is beginning to experience significant change as a result of altering weather patterns and the ongoing search for new resources,” he wrote.

“This meeting will provide an opportunity to prepare for this change and encourage development that takes place in an orderly fashion and has positive benefits,” he wrote.

The meeting will include talks on continental shelf delineation, he said.

Canada recently announced its interest in resolving a longstanding territorial dispute over the US border with the Yukon on the Beaufort Sea.

“Canada favours a resolution of the dispute,” wrote Caccione in a separate e-mail.

The government usually remains tight-lipped about its disagreement with Washington over the border, and the positive overtures signal both countries may have made progress during a joint survey on continental shelf extensions in the Beaufort this summer.

“At this point, the information collected so far suggests there may be a potential overlap of the Canadian and US extended continental shelves in this area,” wrote Caccione. “The extent of the overlap is not yet known. It may make sense to resolve the maritime boundary and any extended continental shelf overlaps at the same time.”

The US and Canadian coast guards performed a joint survey of the northern Beaufort Sea last summer and will repeat the exercise this year. The research is being done ahead of meetings on the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea, which are poised to deal with territorial claims in the Arctic over the next few years.

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Whitehorse’s Selkirk pump house on Selkirk Road in Riverdale on Jan. 26. Whitehorse city council decided Jan. 25 that there will be no advantage for local firms planning to submit proposals for the final report and design of a second barrier water treatment project for the Selkirk pump house. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
No local content weighting on pump house contract

Work will see design for water treatment system

The Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board is issuing $10 million in rebates to employers this month. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Yukon employers to receive $10-million in rebates from Workers’ Compensation Board

Eligible employers will receive cheques based on total premiums paid in 2020

Connie Peggy Thorn, 52, pleaded guilty Jan. 27 to manslaughter in the 2017 death of Greg Dawson. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse woman pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of Greg Dawson

Connie Thorn, 52, was arrested in October 2019 and pleaded guilty in Supreme Court on Jan. 27.

Abigail Jirousek, left, is tailed by Brian Horton while climbing a hill during the Cross Country Yukon January Classic in Whitehorse on Jan. 23. Jirousek finished second in the U16 girls category. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Cross Country Yukon hosts classic race

Cross Country Yukon hosted a classic technique cross-country ski race on Jan.… Continue reading

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver talks to media on March 5, 2020. The Yukon government said Jan. 25 that it is disappointed in a decision by the federal government to send the Kudz Ze Kayah mining project back to the drawing board. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Territorial and federal governments at odds over Kudz Ze Kayah mine project

The federal government, backed by Liard First Nation, sent the proposal back to the screening stage

Yukon RCMP’s Historial Case Unit are seeking the public’s help locating Bradley MacDonald, a 42-year-old man who has been missing since Aug. 5, 2019. (RCMP handout)
Historical Case Unit seeks man missing since 2019

Yukon RCMP’s Historial Case Unit are seeking the public’s help locating a… Continue reading

Yukon RCMP said in a press release that they are seeing an increase in tinted front passenger windows and are reminding people that it is illegal and potentially dangerous. (RCMP handout)
RCMP warn against upward trend of tinted windows

Yukon RCMP are seeing more vehicles with tinted front passenger windows, prompting… Continue reading

An arrest warrant has been issued for a 22-year-old man facing two tickets violating the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em>. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Arrest warrant issued for CEMA violation

An arrest warrant has been issued for Ansh Dhawan over two tickets for violating CEMA

The office space at 151 Industrial Road in Marwell. At Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 25 meeting, members voted to sign off on the conditional use approval so Unit 6 at 151 Industrial Rd. can be used for office space. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Marwell move set for land and building services staff

Conditional use, lease approved for office space

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Most Read