|Abstract: ||Canada faces many challenges in the Arctic. Climate change has opened up the North, and long-dormant boundary disputes in the region have resurfaced, as governments have taken up the rhetoric of defending their sovereignty. As the Arctic nations have been eager to lay claim to the resources that will become available as the ice melts away and the region becomes more accessible, they have increased their military capabilities in the region in an effort to show that they are serious in defending their territory.
In addition to government posturing in the Arctic, the receding ice has opened up northern waterways to increasing maritime traffic. In particular, the fabled Northwest Passage has become more accessible during the summer months, and the number of vessels operating in the region is expected to increase in the years ahead, though treacherous conditions through the Passage mean that the extent to which the region will become a shipping corridor is uncertain. Although Canada claims the Northwest Passage as internal waters, the international community, and the United States in particular, disagrees with Canada’s claim, and sees the Passage as an international strait open to nearly-unrestricted movement.
This paper will first look at Canada’s military presence in the Arctic. It compares Canada’s efforts to those of the other Arctic nations, and examines the possibility of combat in the region. The paper then analyses the most likely challenges that the Canadian military will face in the Arctic, and determines whether the military is capable of meeting those challenges. The paper will then focus on the effects of an increase in traffic through Canadian Arctic waters.In particular, it will examine the Northwest Passage, and concludes with a recommendation on how Canada should handle the disagreement over its status.|