Media Releases

Canadians unified on the Arctic – want government to assert its sovereignty over the Beaufort Sea and Northern Passage

January 25, 2011

TORONTO, ON – Today, the Cana­da Cen­tre for Glob­al Secu­ri­ty Stud­ies at the Munk School of Glob­al Affairs (Munk School) and the Wal­ter and Dun­can Gor­don Foun­da­tion (Gor­don Foun­da­tion) released its pub­lic opin­ion research report on glob­al per­cep­tions of Arc­tic secu­ri­ty.  The report is titled: Rethink­ing the Top of the World.  It sum­ma­rizes pub­lic opin­ions on Arc­tic secu­ri­ty issues in Cana­da (north and south), the Unit­ed States, Rus­sia and the oth­er Arc­tic Coun­cil coun­tries.  The research was com­piled by Ekos Research in Novem­ber 2010.

“This unprece­dent­ed research unveils the fact that Cana­di­ans are uni­fied on the Arc­tic,” stat­ed Jan­ice Stein, Direc­tor of the Munk School at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to. “Cana­di­ans from coast to coast to coast, want their gov­ern­ment to main­tain the Arc­tic as an over­all pri­or­i­ty and assert its sov­er­eign­ty over the Beau­fort Sea, the North­west Pas­sage and its stake in the Arc­tic at large.  And they are will­ing to divert mil­i­tary and diplo­mat­ic resources from oth­er parts of the world to do it.”

While the research con­cludes that Cana­di­ans gen­er­al­ly speak with one voice on the Arc­tic, their sen­ti­ments are not shared among cit­i­zens of the cir­cum­po­lar world.  While most of the Nordic coun­tries heav­i­ly sup­port nego­ti­at­ing a com­pro­mise to Arc­tic ter­ri­to­r­i­al dis­putes (64 per cent of Danes, 50 per cent of Finns, and 49 per cent of Nor­we­gians), in Cana­da and Rus­sia, there is more sup­port for pur­su­ing a firm line in assert­ing their sov­er­eign­ty in the Arc­tic (41 per cent of north­ern Cana­di­ans, 43 per cent of south­ern Cana­di­ans, and 34 per cent of Rus­sians).  Sim­i­lar­ly, Cana­di­ans are over­whelm­ing­ly con­vinced that the North­west Pas­sage is a sov­er­eign, Cana­di­an water­way, but no one else shares this view.

“As the eco­nom­ic and trans­porta­tion advan­tages in the Arc­tic are bet­ter under­stood, the diplo­mat­ic chal­lenges among the cir­cum­po­lar coun­tries and beyond will only grow,” said Thomas Axwor­thy, Senior Dis­tin­guished Fel­low at the Munk School and Pres­i­dent and CEO of the Gor­don Foun­da­tion. “Canadian’s inter­est and patri­o­tism in the Arc­tic is to be com­mend­ed, but we are going to need to keep our cool in the Arc­tic kitchen if we are to lead this impor­tant region in the years ahead.”

To down­load the full report please vis­it the Munk School of Glob­al Affairs web­site.

For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Neil Desai
Direc­tor, Pro­grams and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
Munk School of Glob­al Affairs
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to