Address by Minister Baird to Media Concerning Canada’s Continental Shelf Submissions

December 9, 2013 - Ottawa, Ontario

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Thank you, Minister Aglukkaq [Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council].

Today, we mark a milestone in our government’s historic effort to define the outer limits of Canada’s continental shelf—to assert and defend our national sovereignty.

Our government has devoted—and will continue to devote—the resources necessary to ensure that Canada secures international recognition for the full extent of our continental shelf in both the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

Simply put, we have an obligation to claim the full shelf as part of our great country.

That’s why we have been marshalling major scientific, technical and legal resources from across the government: to establish with certainty where Canada’s continental shelf begins and ends.

Obtaining international recognition for the outer limits of our continental shelf and the legal certainty this brings will be vital for the future development of Canada’s offshore resources.

That’s why I am very pleased to announce that the government has filed a submission with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf for the Atlantic Ocean.

We have also filed preliminary information for our future submission for the Arctic Ocean.

Our submissions set out the potential outer limits of our continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean, including extensive areas in the Labrador Sea, the Grand Banks and off Nova Scotia.

In all, we are talking about an area of about 1.2 million square kilometres. That’s roughly the size of Alberta and Saskatchewan, combined.

When you stop to consider this—the vast reaches of our country below the sea—I think you will agree that this is one for the history books.

Our government knows that securing international recognition of Canada’s offshore boundaries is fundamental to our long-term economic prosperity, to exercising our sovereignty, to our country, itself.

Indeed, this is a legacy we will leave for generations of Canadians to come.

With respect to our future submission concerning the outer limits of Canada’s continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, our government is going to make sure we dedicate the time, effort and resources needed to get this right.

That’s why we have asked our officials and scientists to do the additional—necessary—work to ensure that a submission for the full extent of the continental shelf in the Arctic includes Canada’s claim to the North Pole.

We are determined to ensure that all Canadians benefit from the tremendous resources that are to be found in Canada’s North.

Though they are not with us today, I would like to acknowledge the tireless work of ministers Oliver [Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources] and Shea [Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans]; each of whom has devoted considerable departmental resources to bringing today’s announcement to fruition.

I would particularly like to thank our government team—from Natural Resources Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development—which was charged with prepping our submission.

There’s no doubt that this material is world-class; our scientists and technical and legal experts are among the best internationally and push the frontiers of knowledge every day. 

Ladies and gentlemen, today’s announcement is a major milestone in determining the full extent of the shelf, asserting our sovereignty in the North and realizing its contribution to the long-term economic prosperity of the entire country.

We are drawing the last line on the map of our country by charting our last frontiers, upholding the bold tradition of exploration that has defined Canada’s history.

Thank you.