Address by Minister Cannon at News Conference Following Arctic Visit

No. 2010/18 - Ottawa, Ontario - April 9, 2010

Check Against Delivery

I’ve just come back from a truly fascinating visit to our ice camp on Borden Island, where I was accompanied by Jacob Verhoef from Natural Resources Canada, as well as members of the legal team in Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada with overall responsibility for Canada’s submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. Mr. Verhoef, along with his counterpart in Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is in charge of the scientific work needed for our submission.

I was extremely impressed with the Canadian know-how and technology being used to collect data about our Arctic.

This data collection is something unique every Canadian should be proud of, and which I think will be part of Canadian history.

Protecting Canada’s Arctic sovereignty has been a priority of this government since coming to office, and Canada is playing a leadership role on Arctic issues both at home and abroad.

As Prime Minister [Stephen Harper] always says, the Arctic is of strategic importance to the future of Canada, and we have a choice: “use it or lose it.” I’m proud to say that this government has made the definite choice to “use it.”

This government has made significant investments in protecting Canada’s Arctic sovereignty, including the Budget 2010 announcement that Canada will create a world-class High Arctic research station.

The government will continue to map our northern resources and waters, and will take action to increase marine safety and reduce pollution from shipping and other maritime traffic.

Not only have we expanded and re-equipped the Canadian Rangers, but we have also announced new Arctic patrol ships and a deepwater port in the North.

Our Rangers are arriving in Resolute tomorrow to embark on another exercise that demonstrates our Arctic sovereignty, Operation Nunalivut.

My colleague, Minister [of National Defence Peter] MacKay, announced yesterday this major joint operation in Canada’s High Arctic.

The Rangers will test new capabilities in some of the most challenging and remote locations in Canada’s Arctic.

The Arctic is changing and Canada wants to be prepared to respond to calls for assistance in this new environment, whether they are for search and rescue or for other emergencies on the land or at sea.

This government is dedicated to fulfilling the North’s true potential as a healthy, prosperous and secure region within a strong and sovereign Canada.

We take our responsibility for the future of the region seriously.

Borden Island continental shelf surveying

At some point in the future, there will be another line on the map of Canada showing the outer limits of the extended continental shelf.

The staff of the Borden Island camp are among those who will have helped to put that new line on the map, helped to define the last border of Canada.

On Monday I was in Resolute, which is more than 2,000 km from Ottawa. I was briefed on the steps being taken to survey our extended continental shelf.

Borden Island is another 650 km beyond Resolute on the western coast of Canada’s Arctic archipelago. The ice camp itself is about 5 km offshore.

I spent the day there Tuesday, and I can tell you it is very impressive to be in the High Arctic where no one resides, with a vista of ice and ocean before you, and to witness a first in Canadian history.

The data the vehicle will bring back by the end of next week is essential to the preparation of Canada’s submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

Mostly, it is bathymetric data about the shape of the seabed that is being collected, and this complements the work being done at the camp with helicopters.

The AUVs [autonomous underwater vehicles] were being tested at the Borden Island camp as of yesterday for a 24-hour voyage, and then will be used at a remote camp 300 km out to sea from the main ice camp.

The idea behind this unique project is to use underwater technology because land, ship and air technologies cannot make it to these remote areas to collect data.

The AUVs can travel about 400 km all on their own and then return home, even if the ice on which the remote camp is located has moved up to 35 km.

The Borden Island camp is a collection of 17 tents and has a population of about 40 people.

I was very impressed by the work that is accomplished at the camp. The professionalism and dedication shown by the personnel in such difficult conditions is extraordinary.

There is staff from the Canadian Hydrographic Service of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Defence Research and Development Canada, the Geological Survey of Canada of Natural Resources Canada, and the Canadian Ice Service of Environment Canada, as well as other support staff.

The Borden Island ice camp is one of a series of scientific activities Canada has undertaken to collect the data necessary to delineate the outer limits of its extended continental shelf.

This work will help determine with precision where Canada may exercise its existing sovereign rights over the natural resources of the seabed and subsoil of the continental shelf.

Canada’s submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf is a priority for our government.

Canada is an Arctic power. We continue to exercise our sovereignty.

I commend everyone here on their difficult work and for enhancing our scientific understanding of the North.

Thank you.