Debating Defence and Naval Policy (XIX)

David Perry: Then, Rob Huebert re-entered the debate, circulating a draft editorial for the national media, the key points of which were:

“If the leaked reports are true, the Harper Government is about to announce that it has changed its mind about three new ice-breakers, deep-water port and replacements of the Twin Otters. Instead, the navy will be getting new patrol vessels that can visit the Arctic in the summer -as long as the ice conditions are good! One has to ask what it is about the Arctic that causes successive Canadian Governments to make substantial promises that are never fulfilled. If this ingrained habit was not so detrimental to the Canadian control of its Arctic it would be comical. Instead it is both sad and dangerous.”

“The north is changing and we no longer have the luxury of making promises that we do not keep. We will need the means to know what is happening in the north and to respond when we find visitors doing things that we do not want them to do. Otherwise Arctic sovereignty is an empty phrase in the coming years. Lets hope that the reports of the alleged Harpers clawback on its earlier promises are only rumours. We need new icebreakers. They should be under the control of the Canadian Coast Guard who have the necessary expertise and not the navy, but we need them. We also need to show our American and Russian neighbours that now when we make promises about what we intend to do in the Arctic that we are now going to keep them. And we need them to know that as the ice melts and the resources become accessible we are determined that the resources in the Canadian Arctic are developed in a sustainable manner that benefits all Canadians and particularly those who call the north home. The time has come to break the time tested Canadian practise of big talk and little action.”