Canada flexes military muscle: arctic sovereignty Operation NANOOK

Below is a straight up press release from The Department of National Defense, Canada Command. They’re heavily increasing their military presence, and note how they stress “sovereignty” and “presence”. Those are fightin’ words, as a great many countries want their tradeships to pass through the arctic unhindered, and many view the North West passage as international waters. They are also in a strategic collaboration with their “arctic allies” USA and Denmark, who participate in the operation. On the other hand, they are also practicing for possible oil spills, but we’d like to see as little traffic as possible in the Arctic, military or commercial. Jonas/Hornorkesteret

Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

Canada Command

Canada Command

Aug 06, 2010 17:19 ET

Canada Begins Annual Arctic Sovereignty Operation

OTTAWA, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Aug. 6, 2010) – The Canadian Forces’ largest annual demonstration of Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic, known as Operation NANOOK, began today as the Canadian-led Naval Task Group crossed the 60th parallel en route to the High Arctic.

This year, the 20-day event will be based out of Resolute, Nunavut—the northernmost location to host the operation since its inception in 2007. Operation NANOOK will feature sovereignty and presence patrolling, military exercises, and will culminate with a whole-of-government exercise that focuses on fuel spill containment and remediation of a simulated leak in the Resolute Bay area.

“The NANOOK operations are an important demonstration of our Government’s commitment to the Arctic region” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “Building from experience and successes of previous operations, Operation NANOOK is the most complex operation of its kind, demonstrating our increased capacity and confidence in operating in the high Arctic.”

“Operation NANOOK is a clear demonstration of the Canadian Forces fulfilling our primary mission as stated in the Canada First Defence Strategy,” said General Walt Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff. “We are committed to ensuring the security of all Canadians and to enhancing our presence in the Arctic by conducting sovereignty exercises and operations in cooperation with other government departments.”

As part of the Arctic Reserve Company Group, members of southern-Ontario Army Reserve units will conduct training exercises with Canadian Rangers in Resolute Bay and Pond Inlet. The Air Force will be providing air movement and mission support through the CC-177 Globemaster III, CC-130 Hercules, CP-140 Aurora, CH-146 Griffon, and CC-138 Twin Otter aircraft. The maritime component will include Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Montreal, Glace Bay and Goose Bay; and Canadian Coast Guard Ships CCGS Des Groseilliers and CCGS Henry Larsen;

Canada has also invited the American naval destroyer USS Porter from the United States Second Fleet; the United States Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Alder; and the Royal Danish Navy ocean patrol vessel HDMS Vaedderen and offshore patrol vessel HDMS Knud Rasmussen for the purpose of exercising and increasing our interoperability with Arctic allies.

Operation NANOOK is based in the Eastern Arctic and is one of three major recurring sovereignty operations conducted annually by the CF in Canada’s Arctic, along with Operation NUNALIVUT in the High Arctic, and Operation NUNAKPUT in the Western Arctic. Planned and directed by Joint Task Force North in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, these annual operations highlight interoperability, command and control, and cooperation with interdepartmental and intergovernmental partners in the North.

Note to Editors:

Still imagery will be available for download throughout the operation on the Canadian Forces Image Gallery at: www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca.

Video B-Roll will also be available for download on the Canadian Forces Combat Camera Video Download Site: www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca/common/combatcamera/news.

For more information about Canada Command and Operation NANOOK visit the Canada Command website: http://www.canadacom.forces.gc.ca/daily/archive-nanook-eng.asp.

For more information on Operation NANOOK 10 please contact Lieutenant-Commander Albert Wong, Public Affairs Officer, at (416) 738-3099.

For more information, please contact

MLO Media Liaison Office
1-866-377-0811
www.forces.gc.ca

Original article here

Canada: Environment, sovereignty focus of new Arctic marine rules

By Randy Boswell, Canwest News Service June 22, 2010

Global warming and conflicting claims to the Arctic raise a raft of questions about sovereignty in Canada's North. Photograph by: Ed Struzik, The Journal, Edmonton Journal

The Canadian government has put the world on notice that ships entering the country’s Arctic waters will be subject to new mandatory vessel-tracking rules next week aimed at preventing terrorist activity and pollution while improving search-and-rescue capabilities in the Far North.

But the strict new measures — generally welcomed by opposition parties and specialists in northern geopolitics — have raised some concerns with the U.S. government, it was revealed at a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday.

Polar experts had pressured the federal government for years to replace Canada’s voluntary NORDREG ship-registration system for northern maritime traffic, widely seen as inadequate in an era when melting ice and rising global interest in Arctic tourism, science and economic development are increasing ship traffic in the region.

The government announced in late February it was doing just that. And at Tuesday’s news conference, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea — whose department oversees Canadian Coast Guard operations — reiterated that the new rules coming into effect on Canada Day aim to both protect the northern environment and assert Canadian sovereignty.

“Our government and Prime Minister Harper have always asserted that a strong and sovereign Canada depended on a healthy, prosperous and secure North,” said Shea.

“The world has their eyes set on the unprecedented economic growth opportunities, in particular in the mining and oil and gas sectors,” she added. “We can all expect this to mean more shipping in the Arctic.”

But a senior Transport Canada official acknowledged that the U.S. — which views the Northwest Passage as an international strait beyond Canada’s exclusive jurisdiction — expressed “mixed” feelings about the new regulations.

“The U.S. has sort of a mixed view of it,” the official stated. “They recognize for the purposes of pollution prevention and safety of navigation, that such measures are a good idea. On the other hand, they do like to maintain the freedom to navigate. They’re keen about that — they have a large navy.”

Canada considers the Northwest Passage part of this country’s “internal waters.” Under a long-standing arrangement that acknowledges Canada and the U.S. “agree to disagree” on the legal status of the Arctic shipping route, U.S vessels voluntarily alert Canada to their planned presence in the passage and Canada agrees not to interfere with their voyages.

The new ship-tracking regime, called the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone, will regulate the movement of cargo carriers, cruise ships and other large vessels moving through the Northwest Passage and throughout the waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago.

The system falls short of a recent Senate committee’s recommendation that all sizes of vessels should be forced to register their northern voyages with the coast guard.

But Shea said the regime taking effect July 1 covers all vessels seen as posing a serious threat of polluting Arctic waters.

The government’s plan requires mandatory registration for ships of 300 tonnes or more, for tugs with a two-ship weight of 500 tonnes or more and for any vessel carrying dangerous goods or potential pollutants.

The new rules, Shea stated, will work to prevent pollution of Arctic waters and also to help the coast guard and other federal agencies respond quickly to oil spills, search-and-rescue requests and other northern emergencies.

In announcing the planned measures in February, the government had pointedly noted that, “the proposed regulations would apply to both Canadian and foreign vessels, and are consistent with international law regarding ice-covered areas.”

But as early as 2008, when Harper first indicated his government’s intention to move toward a mandatory ship-registration system, he acknowledged that the move could rile other nations.

“It’ll be interesting to see,” he said during an August 2008 visit to the Arctic. “I expect that some countries may object.”

But he added: “I think it ultimately is in everybody’s interest to ensure there is some kind of authority in the area, some kind of environmental and commercial authority. . . . We have no particular power play here.”

Last year, the government also introduced stiffer pollution-prevention regulations for Arctic waters, doubling to 370 kilometres the offshore distance over which Canadian rules would apply.

“These measures will send a clear message to the world: Canada takes responsibility for environmental protection and enforcement in our Arctic waters,” Harper said when those measures were introduced.

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
Original article here

Inuit need greater role in protecting Arctic: Committee

By Juliet O’Neill, Canwest News Service June 17, 2010

An all-party report expressed "concern" that Indigenous peoples have not been accorded proper recognition for their historic role in helping ensure Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic by living in the region. Photograph by: Ed Struzik, edmontonjournal.com

OTTAWA — The government should get cracking on implementing Nunavut land claims and involving Indigenous peoples more in protecting Arctic sovereignty, the House of Commons defence committee said Thursday.

An all-party report expressed “concern” that Indigenous peoples have not been accorded proper recognition for their historic role in helping ensure Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic by living in the region.

“The assertion that our sovereignty depends largely on Inuit occupation of the region are a bit hollow if we continue to lag on our commitments to the Inuit and prolong the failure to implement the Nunavut land claims agreement,” Jack Harris, New Democratic Party defence critic, said at a news conference by committee members.

The MPs also recommended the Arctic Council should be strengthened, the government should re-establish the office of Arctic ambassador, create a cabinet committee on Arctic affairs and give priority to resolving a dispute over the Beaufort Sea with the United States.

The report generally supported the broad direction of government policy but chair Maxime Bernier said the recommendations aim to ensure Canada has the right tools. While the committee concluded the Canadian Forces are equipped to defend the region, it was concerned the building of Arctic patrol ships and the icebreaker John G. Diefenbaker are falling significantly behind schedule.

The committee recommended the government make development and long-term maintenance of viable Indigenous communities a priority and ensure that the Inuit be included in Northern environment scientific projects.

“It is especially important that Canada’s Indigenous peoples be an integral part of any decision making process affecting policies regarding the Arctic,” the report said. “In line with this, we believe it important that outstanding land claims in the region be settled quickly.”

Harris issued a supplementary report emphasizing the long-stalled process of implementing the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

“After 17 years, only 50 per cent of the agreement has been implemented,” he said, citing provision of educational services as a key to the future of Nunavut’s ability to run its own affairs and participate in national and international decision making about the Arctic.

“We must stress the importance and urgency for the government of Canada to fulfil its obligations to our indigenous partners in the Arctic.”

The committee heard testimony that a dispute resolution mechanism in the agreement was not working and Inuit leader Mary Simon had told the committee that “along with the building of military infrastructure in the region we also need to build sustainable communities.”

The committee said “Canada’s legal title to its Arctic territories is well established” and there is no immediate military threat to Canadian territories either in or “through” the Arctic. But it said that “given the increased interest and anticipated activity in the Arctic, Canada needs to increase its ‘presence’ in the region.”

Meanwhile, Operation Nanook, the Canadian Forces’ summer Arctic sovereignty exercise, moves north of the Arctic Circle for the first time this summer, and in a twist will include ships from the Danish and American navies, plus a ship and dive team from the United States Coast Guard.

The participation by the Danes and Americans is notable for a Canadian sovereignty exercise, since Canada has lingering offshore boundary disputes with both Denmark and the U.S.

With a file from the Nunatsiaq News

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
Original article here