Emmerson makes one small but telling blunder. In territory, Canada has indeed managed to secure most of its claims peacefully, after a sequence of last-minute panics. In terms of culture and national identity, though, the Arctic remains a null spot, absent from any of our cultural expressions. Beyond that single lyric from the English translation of the national anthem and a few excellent Lawren Harris paintings, it is hard to find any significant cultural, political, infrastructural or developmental link between Canada and the Arctic in any part of its history.
The signature Canadian act, for more than a century, has been the legislative claim of a northern role that has little or no basis in physical reality, in order to create the impression of a pre-existing sovereignty. At first, this was done under the guise of "research. With the creation of the Arctic Islands Game Preserve, Grant writes, Ottawa had "used legislation to 'protect the Arctic environment' as a means to affirm Canada's authority over the area" - the same strategy Pierre Trudeau was to employ 45 years later in response to the sudden appearance of U.
The obverse side of this strategy has been Ottawa's repeated, century-long habit of announcing investments in the Arctic that never materialize. In this, Canada is in notable contrast to Denmark, which has spent large sums developing and supporting Greenland which became an independent state last year and its mainly Inuit people, even though it is even further from Copenhagen than Canada's Arctic possession is from Ottawa. Grant lists Ottawa's recent history of empty flourishes: "plans for a nuclear-powered icebreaker were dropped; plans for a fleet of nuclear submarines were shelved; orders for search and rescue helicopters were cancelled.
It is only the Inuit themselves who have been able to establish a real Canadian presence in the North.
The creation of the territory of Nunavut in has turned Iqaluit into a real centre albeit one just below the Arctic Circle ; the independence of Greenland last year shows that Inuit are far more willing than Europeans or their descendents were to exploit the Arctic's resources and turn their region into an economic hub. In her conclusion, Grant lists the dozen "visionaries who were responsible for changing the map of the Arctic," from Erik the Red and Martin Frobisher through Roald Amundsen and Vitus Bering; significantly, there is not a single Canadian among them.
It may be on our maps and in our anthem, but the Arctic remains an utterly alien place to Canadians. Doug Saunders is chief of The Globe and mail's European bureau. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way.
Polar Imperative by Shelagh D. Grant (ebook)
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Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America, by Shelagh D. Grant
As the ice melts away, international attention is drawn to potential development of the area's newly accessible resources, such as oil, gas, iron ore, and gold. Tough Decisions for Canada Canada needs to maintain control over its Arctic Waters, not just by military means but through significant investment in infrastructure. Canada must be prepared to protect the environment and food sources from contamination and to ensure the sustainability of the economy.
Grant is a leading historian, distinguished archival researcher, author and mentor.
By comparing the evolution of Arctic sovereignty in three locations, one gets a better idea of why some countries retain control and why others abandon or lose control. The prize was established by the Canadian Authors Association in through a bequest from the estate of Lela Florence Common, a member of the Hamilton branch who had a life-long interest in history.
As the winner of the Lionel Gelber Prize, Ms. The J.
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