Re: “Canadians firm on Arctic defence,” Jan. 26.
Every summer, in a display of all talk and no action, Stephen Harper comes up North, does a lot of photo ops, and then it’s all forgotten until a year later, when he does the trip again and we see that little to no progress has been made. It’s insulting to the people who live there.
For five years, Harper has promised new armed coast guard heavy icebreakers, up to eight new naval patrol vessels, a military/civilian deepwater docking facility in Iqaluit, a new Arctic national sensor system for northern waters, a Canadian Forces Arctic training centre, new fixedwing search-and-rescue aircraft, new ice-strengthened military supply ships, to have uninhabited aerial vehicles patrol the Northwest Passage and to make cooperation with other Arctic nations a hallmark of northern policy.
None of this has materialized.
Since 2007, he has promised a plan to deal with climate change and help northern communities that are the hardest hit. No plan has been put in place. The same can be said of our oil spill preparedness and response regime.
Funding cuts to climate research have meant the end of important Arctic research and the impending closure of a unique Arctic research station.
Nothing has been done to increase medical services in northern communities, where one physician is responsible for as many as 3,333 patients, compared to an average of 438 people per doctor in southern Canada.
Your article makes it clear the majority of Canadians think the Arctic should be the country’s top foreign policy priority. It’s unfortunate the Harper government is so out of step with them.
Larry Bagnell, Ottawa Larry Bagnell is MP for Yukon and Liberal critic for Arctic issues and northern development.