Minister Cannon Highlights Canadian Leadership on Arctic Issues at Arctic Council Meeting in Norway and Announces Creation of Canadian International Centre for the Arctic Region

(No. 114 - April 29, 2009)The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today successfully concluded his participation in the Sixth Arctic Council Foreign Ministerial Meeting, held in Tromsø, Norway. The Honourable Floyd Roland, Premier of the Northwest Territories, the Honourable Eva Aariak, Premier of Nunavut, and the Honourable Elaine Taylor, Deputy Premier of the Yukon, were also part of the Canadian Delegation.

During the meeting, Minister Cannon discussed Canada's interests in the region and outlined his agenda as the Council addresses significant challenges and opportunities in the future. "Canada led in the creation of the Council and we are proud of our continuing leadership role," said Minister Cannon.

"Canada is an Arctic nation and an Arctic power. I had the opportunity to reiterate to my Arctic colleagues that the Arctic and the North is central to our national identity. It is an important part of our past, our present and our future," said Minister Cannon.

"Through our robust Arctic foreign policy we are affirming our leadership, stewardship and ownership in the region." As part of Canada's Arctic Foreign policy, Minister Cannon announced that Canada will be opening a dedicated Canadian International Centre for the Arctic region in Oslo, Norway. This further demonstrates that the Government of Canada is committed and serious about taking a leadership role on Arctic issues. The Centre will enhance Canada's ability to promote Canadian interests, influence key partners and better understand emerging issues.

Minister Cannon took the opportunity to meet with foreign ministers from the Russian Federation, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Italy. He also met with France's Polar Ambassador, former Prime Minister Michel Rocard.

Major deliverables at the Norway Ministerial included the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment and the Arctic Oil and Gas Assessment. Canada played a leading role in both assessments. The Marine Shipping Assessment informs and complements Canada's actions to protect the Arctic environment and its peoples and to enhance Arctic marine safety. The Oil and Gas Assessment will help Canada best manage the environmental, social, economic and human health impacts of current and future oil and gas activities in the Arctic.

The Sixth Arctic Council Foreign Ministerial Meeting marked the conclusion of the Norwegian chairmanship. Canada congratulates the Kingdom of Norway for its leadership in chairing the Arctic Council for the past two and a half years. Denmark has now taken over the chairmanship for a period of two years. Canada will assume the chairmanship in 2013 and is committed to ensuring that the international spotlight stays focused on the challenges and opportunities facing the Arctic.

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