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