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Canada’s Aglukkaq Chairmanship of Arctic Council Means Business

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(CRC)—Canadian minister of Health and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency Leona Aglukkaq is now in Kiruna, Sweden, where she is set to take over the two year rotating chairmanship of the eight countries Arctic Council organization tomorrow, May 15.

I Politics which interviewed minister Aglukkak on April 23 reports that “Canada will roll out a plan to further incorporate business in the Arctic Council”.

“…Aglukkaq’s stress on business comes at a time when interest in Northern natural resource extraction is booming…Speaking from Iqaluit, Aglukkaq said the people of the North want development. ‘ If we are going to develop our people, we need jobs. The mining industry in the North is where the jobs are going to be,’ she said. ‘How do we insure that people benefit from that? Through training in partnership with industry’

“…Aglukkaq said the Council is ‘very open’ to a forum that would focus on ‘Arctic state business practices’ and bring key players to the table, such as shipping partners.”

In a week-long series that appeared in the National Post last week on Canada’s upcoming chairmanship of the Arctic Council, defence experts at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute “offered advice on what Canada should do with this opportunity”.

Noteworthy were the comments by Natalia Loukacheva , First Visiting Nansen Professor of Arctic Studies (Akureyri, Iceland) whose short article was entitled “Canada and Russia: Natural Partners” in which she wrote :
“Canada and Russia, by far the largest Arctic nations, bear a shared responsibility for the state of affairs in the region, and must see each other as strategic partners. First, we need to develop, and initiate, more strategic collaborations in military and other security domains, including dealing with other non-Arctic players in the Arctic. To date the conventional capacities of the Arctic zones in Canada and Russia are limited. Growing economic activities, expanding navigation and cross-polar flights, and a rising demand for readiness in search and rescue capacities justify an increase in conventional military capabilities. Bearing in mind Russia’s historic suspicion of NATO, we are wiser to engage Russia, rather than ignore it.

“Transportation, both maritime and aeronautic, should be another obvious area of bilateral cooperation. Some initial steps taken in this area are the Churchill-Murmansk “Northern sea-bridge” or discussions between Winnipeg and Krasnoyarsk on the “Northern air bridge” , that would connect North America with Eurasia. But the potential for a bilateral relationship can only be realized if both nations become physically closer through transportation links and build on the mutual advantages available through technological innovation. The two countries could play a leading role in assuring the navigation, communication and safety of the Arctic transportation system. For example, Canada could join Russia’s effort to modernize the Northern Sea Route by offering aid and working to develop the Northwest Passage. These new shipping routes could reshape shipping and have far reaching implications for social and economic development.” [GG]