Canada needs to liberalize its immigration system and improve its armed forces to secure its northern border. This is because of the arctic passage becoming an economically viable shipping route. Therefore, a multitude of countries are laying claim to those regions, and as currently constructed, Canada is too sparsely populated and defended to maintain those regions.
Why It Needs To Be Secured
Because of global warming, the northwest passage has become operable for larger durations of time year on year. There are now examples of Fednav ships (a Canadian maritime transport firm) going from Quebec to China in two weeks less than going through the Panama canal. This presents an opportunity for Canada to develop not only their shipping capability but also their ports to bring in far more revenue and create jobs for Canadians. With the passage becoming almost open year-round due to decreasing ice-levels, this opportunity is coming closer and closer.
The problem for Canada is that other countries are also realizing this fact. Specifically, the world’s three most militarily capable countries such as China, Russia, and the USA. In consequence, some of those nations claim the passage is international waters, others are making actual territorial claims against Canada. The USA has had their Secretary of State, Mike Pompeio, call Canada’s claim to the northwest passage illegitimate and deemed that it was clearly international waters. Meanwhile, in 2018, China filed its Arctic White Papers, which argued that China as a ‘near arctic state’ should have a significant influence in the region. In addition to all this, Russia is directly challenging Canada’s territorial claims in terms of the seabed in the region and deems itself to be the legitimate owner of certain sections.
Immigration as a solution
In order to reinforce ownership of these lands against these more powerful countries, Canada needs a larger population presence there. Canada’s combined populations in all of its northern holdings come up to a measly 113 604 as of 2020. For comparison, the US city of Anchorage, Alaska by itself, has 291 538. In order to enforce the legitimacy of Canada’s claims in the region, it should seek to boost its population there. A solution to this would be to liberalize our immigration system and the path to citizenship. This should be done upon the condition that the individuals who are permitted under this more relaxed system have to spend some amount of fixed time in the northern regions.
Improving The Armed Forces
The other fashion in which Canada needs to follow suit on to secure the region is an improvement of its armed forces. Whether it would come to actual conflict or just power projection, Russia, China, and the USA are viewed as the most powerful militaries in the world, Canada is not. We can clearly see an example of this with Canada’s submarine core. Canada has 4 submarines, all of which spent zero days at sea in 2020 due to repair and maintenance. In comparison, Russia has 72. Canada needs to improve here to keep ownership of the passage and the surrounding regions.
With the potential economic benefits clear from the northwest arctic passage, it is clear what Canada must do in order to retain sovereignty over the shipping lanes and surrounding territory. Canada needs to make immigration easier to populate those regions while increasing defense spending. This increase in population would also give Canada a bigger labour pool available for the defense of those regions.
• https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-us-warns-china-russia-against-aggression-in-the -arctic-region/
• https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/north-pole-canada-russia-denmark-1.5151432#:~:text=Canada%20has%20filed%20a%20claim,world%20flies%20the%20Maple%20Leaf. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1710000901
• https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/submarines-canada-fleet-repairs-canadian-navy-1.5458632 https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a19863945/here-are-all-the-submarines of-the-russian-navy-in-one-infographic/
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