Does Canada have a strategic plan to enhance its fleet of icebreakers?

Does Canada have a strategic plan to enhance its fleet of icebreakers?

By K. Joseph Spears

Since Canada is an Arctic nation, there is a strong requirement for icebreaker capability in our Arctic waters. The Canadian Coast Guard, operating within Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is tasked with providing the necessary icebreakers in support of its own mandate and other government operations (search and rescue, hydrographic work and resupply, to name just a few). These are hard-working ships, with experienced crews who often work in hostile environments. Interestingly, former CBC  National news anchor Peter Mansbridge, a former Churchill, Manitoba resident, described his time aboard Canadian Coast Guard heavy icebreaker’s CCGS Louis St. Laurent in the Northwest Passage as among his most cherished moments in broadcasting. Yet, Canada’s icebreakers are old, with the average age of Canadian icebreakers being just shy of 40 years, which adversely impacts their operational readiness and reliability. (more…)

Canada and China: two nations claiming sovereignty over disputed ocean space

Canada and China: two nations claiming sovereignty over disputed ocean space

By K. Joseph Spears

What is old is new again. United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the recent ministers meeting at the Arctic Council in Helsinki, Finland, talked about Canada’s claim to the Northwest Passage, and stated: “We recognize that Russia is not the only nation making illegitimate claims. The U.S. has a long-contested feud with Canada over sovereign claims through the Northwest Passage.” (more…)

Canada’s Arctic Policy—the search continues

Canada’s Arctic Policy—the search continues

By Joe Spears

In an April 2016 article, Breaking Bread and the Ice in Washington, I examined Canada’s evolving Arctic policy under the then new and shiny Trudeau government. The Joint Arctic Statement communique was unveiled with great fanfare at the Obama White House in Washington, DC. Four years into the Trudeau mandate, the world has seen many changes, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and we are still awaiting a Canadian Arctic policy. It is clearly not a priority. (more…)

The Arctic Ocean Basin – is it really Putin’s playground?

The Arctic Ocean Basin – is it really Putin’s playground?

By K. Joseph Spears

During the long running Cold War, the Arctic Ocean Basin had strategic military significance: The airspace was potentially important for overflights of strategic bombers and later, intercontinental ballistic missiles – the ocean space for subsurface operations of submarines of the United States and her allies, and the Soviet Union.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the breakup of the Soviet Union, the strategic significance of the Arctic Ocean Basin diminished. The Arctic was an afterthought in the thinking of most defense planners for decades. However, with melting sea-ice and a fast warming Arctic, there is now greater interest in the region because of its greater accessibility, and the importance of the region to both Russia and near-Arctic states such as China. (more…)

U.S. perishables exporters eye a better crop, but trade barriers may give them the pip

U.S. perishables exporters eye a better crop, but trade barriers may give them the pip

By Ian Putzger

Eager to put a disappointing 2018 harvest behind them, U.S. produce shippers are preparing for a strong crop this year – but it is as yet unclear who will buy it.  After California’s peach harvest kicked off, hopes are high for a strong season for stone fruit grown in the state. Peach and nectarine volumes are expected to rise above average and apricots are going strong, while plums should see a medium-sized crop this year. (more…)

Canada stuck in middle of elephantine clash of civilizations

Canada stuck in middle of elephantine clash of civilizations

By Keith Norbury

When two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers. Jia Wang, Deputy Director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, invokes that African proverb to describes Canada’s position in a tariff turf war between the world’s economic elephants — China and the U.S. “In a way, Canada is like that grass,” said Ms. Wang, who was born and raised in China but has been a Canadian resident for 16 years. “It’s caught in between these big global economic superpowers and if for some reason the trade situation worsens, I think on balance it’s not going to be good for Canada.” (more…)