Closing Canada’s icebreaker gap

Closing Canada’s icebreaker gap

By K. Joseph Spears

Canada is both an Ocean and Arctic Nation. Canada has operated government-owned icebreakers for well over a hundred years. For example, the museum ship CHS Acadia moored in Halifax was built to chart Hudson Bay as part of the development of the port of Churchill in the early 1900s. A number of sources have raised concerns about Canada’s impeding “icebreaker gap”, which was first addressed three years ago in a Canadian Sailings article entitled Canada’s Icebreaker Gap. Little, if anything, has been done to alleviate this problem during the past years, which has now assumed critical proportions.

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China’s Arctic rising

China’s Arctic rising

By K. Joseph Spears

China’s presence in the Arctic, like recent winter temperatures, continues to increase. China considers itself a near-Arctic power, even though it has no territory in the region. It is playing the long game in the region on many fronts: commercial, academic, political and philosophical. China has continued to expand into the region for the last decade which has surprised many. Many China watchers have speculated about its objectives, and there is a great deal of concern about what China’s true intentions are in the region. Given its complex internal political processes, is difficult to determine, as its intentions have never been stated. On January 26, 2018 China released a formal white paper on its Arctic policy which, combined with recent research expeditions, commercial and diplomatic efforts, show China’s continued interest in the Arctic and its directed focus on commercial shipping in the Arctic Ocean basin. China recognizes that as sea-ice continues to diminish, the Arctic will impact its people.

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The United States – a reluctant Arctic power—making it great again

The United States – a reluctant Arctic power—making it great again

By K. Joseph Spears

The 21st century has been called a maritime century as well as an Arctic century. A rapidly changing Arctic has brought the world to the Arctic. The United States is a key Arctic player and an Arctic neighbour of Canada’s. America has long recognized the strategic importance of the region, a key hotspot during the Cold War. The Arctic has the potential to become another hotspot as both China and Russia exert their power. However, America has never thought of itself as an Arctic nation. Trying to read the signals on recent U.S. Arctic policy from the Trump White House is like trying to predict sea-ice conditions in a warming Arctic. Both the ice and presidential positions are constantly in flux. President Trump’s sole public comments about the Arctic have been in a bemusing interview stating “The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now. But now they’re setting records. They’re at a record level.” The best we can do is make an educated guess on American Arctic intentions. The overall goal from the Trump White House that remains constant is the 2016 Trump campaign slogan—“Make America Great Again”.

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Cooperation in the Arctic is critical

Cooperation in the Arctic is critical

By K. Joseph Spears

Canada’s Arctic embraces both land and oceanspace, which taken together, makes up 40 per cent of Canada landmass of 9,900,000 square kilometres. In addition, the region represents 75 per cent of Canada’s 244,000 kilometres of coastline, and contains 36,000 islands. The Arctic Ocean Basin is a unique international zone involving a semi-enclosed sea with five coastal nations, a portion of the high seas not controlled by any coastal arctic nation, waters poised to become international shipping routes (either the Northern sea route, Northwest Passage or a transpolar open water route across the top ). In addition, it is a region rich in natural resources, both living and non-living. All activities in the Arctic require international cooperation between governments, the Inuit and industry to develop a practical results-driven regime, to serve as a cornerstone of economic development by Arctic and near-Arctic nations. China considers itself a near-Arctic state because of its national interests and future potential in the region.

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Project Resolve resolving a Canadian naval capability gap

Project Resolve resolving a Canadian naval capability gap

K. Joseph Spears

Canada’s Navy was founded in 1910 and has a long and illustrious history through two world wars, the Cold War and into the 21st century, a century which has seen a war on terrorism and piracy. In a complex threat environment, navies have become increasingly important and relevant globally. Over time, Canada’s Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) pioneered a variety of naval capabilities including the use of large helicopters from small warships, in support of antisubmarine warfare. Canada’s RCN is an integral part of NATO and works closely with allied partners around the world in support of counterterrorism and force projection maintaining the security of global maritime shipping, which is the foundation of international commerce.

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Canada’s Defense Policy Review: Full Speed ahead on NSS

By K. Joseph Spears

On June 7, 2017 Canada’s Liberal government released its 113-page Defence Policy Review entitled Strong Secure Engaged. The review was a culmination of a year-long process that sought input from Canadians along with that of our allies, parliamentarians and subject matter experts. The goal was to set the stage going forward to 2027 to provide a roadmap for Canada’s Defence policy in a changing world and signify priorities and sustained funding for these policy goals. It also provides a twenty year funding commitment that is set out in the document. The day before, Canada’s Minister of Global Affairs announced a new direction in foreign policy that arguably interacts with the Defence policy review. Both of which demonstrate the need for Canada to have a robust naval capability.

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