The Harper government has recently been touting a number of new initiatives in the High North of Canada as a way to assert Canadian sovereignty over the region. (The CBC has a nice summary map of where a number of these projects are planned to occur) I think it’s interesting to note though, that while the government has been proposing all these new plans, those of us actively involved in Arctic research know that the Harper government has been steadily cutting back on ways for scientists to access the region. For example, Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP) this past year had half the fuel of past years to distribute to researchers for logistical support, which meant if you wanted to work in the Arctic you had to come up with a lot more money than in the past. Admittedly, this was partly due to an increase in fuel prices and not just cutbacks, but what about other research funding? NSERC has seen a large number of cuts to its programs, at both the professor and student level. This means that costly field work in the Arctic simply cannot be done for lack of funds. For years scientists have been establishing our sovereignty in the region by doing research to find out what is actually there. While the Harper government is worried about using the military to assert our power over the region, wouldn’t it be just as (if not more) important to send researchers up to see what’s there? It makes both scientific (knowledge) and economic (resource exploitation) sense, while at the same time showing the world that we have a vested interest in our own land.
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