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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Canada Makes a Show of Force in Disputed Arctic Region

Two Canadian navel vessels, the HMCS Shawinigan and Glace Bay are currently heading into Eastern Artic waters and will be joined shortly by a third vessel, the frigate HMCS Fredericton in what can only be described as an attempt by the Canadian government to ward off perceived threats to its sovereignty in the North.

For decades Canada and Denmark have disputed ownership of the small island outcrop known as Hans Island. Little more than a barren rock and measuring a little over one square kilometer, debate over ownership of the island recently heated up when a Danish vessel patrolled the site, leading to a visit there by Canadian Defense Minister Bill Graham.

In Churchill last weekend, Navel Commodore Bob Blakely told reporters, "This is a demonstration of Canada's will to exercise sovereignty over our own back yard." The Commadore went on to say, "Use our resources wisely and don't pollute the fragile northern ecosystem. It's like having a path behind your house. Nobody minds the neighbours walking along. Just don't dump your garbage there and don't take my vegetables out of the garden," he said.

Better management and protection of the Artic appears to be a major issue for Ottawa lately. Plans are being discussed to launch a satellite which will be used to monitor shipping in the area and the government plans to spend millions in road construction which will allow for access up the MacKenzie River Valley and into Tuktoyaktuk in the North.

While sabers rattle over what many purport to be a useless chunk of rock, in an area not expected to contain any mineral or oil reserves, another chunk of rock sitting in the North Atlantic goes all but unnoticed and unprotected.

The island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador has been surrounded for decades by foreign fleets. Fleets that openly rape its coastal waters of fish, pollute nesting grounds of migrating birds by intentionally dumping bilge oil and destroy the area’s undersea habitat through dragging of the ocean floor. All of this while Canadian government and military officials sit idly by and watch.

No protection is offered to this island which is quickly becoming Canada’s emerging oil and gas capital and is home to half a million citizens. One wonders what it will take for the Canadian military to display its sovereignty in this area.

Currently there is practically no military presence either on the land or at sea in the province with the exception of an air training base in the mainland portion of the province, Labrador. A base that has been all but closed by the federal government in recent years.

It’s an interesting paradox that a one square kilometer island in the remote Arctic, that has no inhabitants, can require Canada's military to send war ships to its defense and spur the federal government into spending millions on roads, while a populated island like Newfoundland measuring 112,000 square kilometers does not even rank a canoe with a boy scout on board.

What about the big land of Labrador?

Labrador has a land mass 3 times larger than the 3 Maritime provinces combined. A land mass containing perhaps the world’s most abundant sources of iron, nickel, uranium and other precious minerals, yet it is losing its military base and while a road is planned for access into the remote Arctic, Labrador doesn’t even have a highway. Instead many residents must travel from community to community by boat or air and in some cases over gravel roads, weather permitting.

What will it take for the Canadian government to recognize the fact that Atlantic Canada exists? Maybe the good folks just off the coast of Newfoundland, in the French colony of St. Pierre, should swing by in a dory and plant a French flag on shore. It might just give Canada’s Defense Minister an excuse for a visit.

18 comments:

WJM said...

"Labrador has a land mass 3 times larger than the 3 Maritime provinces combined."

Actually larger than the Maritimes AND Newfoundland combined.


"A land mass containing perhaps the world’s most abundant sources of iron, nickel, uranium and other precious minerals, yet it is losing its military base"

How is it losing its military base?

How is the presence of those minerals connected to the military base?


"and while a road is planned for access into the remote Arctic,"

Oh? Where?


"Labrador doesn’t even have a highway."

Why has the provincial government seen fit to deny Labrador the highways spending that Labrador deserves? What have you done to press the provincial government of which Labrador is a part to spend highways money in Labrador too?

Patriot said...

Hi WJM,

Welcome back, it's been a while.

Nice to see that you are still so anti-Newfoundland that even when someone makes comments in favour of Labrador you can still find fault in them and try to pick apart the nuances rather than grasp the concepts.

As the old drug ads used to say, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

Patriot said...

Bye the way, WJM, in case you missed it, I intentionally said "Drug Ads" rather than "University Ads", which is where that slogan came from.

I figured you wouldn't be happy unless you had something to pick apart in the comment.

Later,

WJM said...

What did I say that was anti-Newfoundland?

Patriot said...

To: WJM,

Actually you didn't say anything openly anti-Newfoundland in your last comment, but remember, I know you from comments on some earlier articles in which you clearly dispayed your dislike for the island portion of your province. (Yes, wether you like it or not, it's your province too.)

I really should apologize for my short comments earlier. In fact I will go further and answer the comments you made. I will do this for two reasons:

1. I really don't want to have a battle of wits with an unarmed individual and

2. You obviously didn't grasp the entire content of the article.

Here are your comments:

"Labrador has a land mass 3 times larger than the 3 Maritime provinces combined."

Actually larger than the Maritimes AND Newfoundland combined.


"A land mass containing perhaps the world’s most abundant sources of iron, nickel, uranium and other precious minerals, yet it is losing its military base"

How is it losing its military base?

How is the presence of those minerals connected to the military base?


"and while a road is planned for access into the remote Arctic,"

Oh? Where?


"Labrador doesn’t even have a highway."

Why has the provincial government seen fit to deny Labrador the highways spending that Labrador deserves? What have you done to press the provincial government of which Labrador is a part to spend highways money in Labrador too?

First, you are right, Labrador is larger than the Maritimes and Newfoudland combined, but what I said, was that it was 3(Three) times larger than the Maritimes. Also true.

Second, you asked how Labrador is losing its military base. Have you read any news or listend to your local politicians lately. 5 Wing Goose is barely hanging on thanks to a lack of Federal will to keep it alive.

Thirdly, you wonder what the minerals in Labrador have to do with a military presence. If you had read the article carefully you would have seen that I was drawing a correllation between the protection of Hans Island which researchers say has no economic value and the lack of protection for this province which does.

Fourth, You ask where the road is being planned for the Arctic. It states clearly in the piece that the plan is to construct a road up the MacKenzie River Valley and into Tuktoyaktuk.

Finally you ask why the provincial government does not spend highway money in Labrador and what I have done to pressure them.

I cannot speak for the government on why road money is not used to their best ability in Labrador. As for what I have done. I have mentioned the plight of the people of Labrador, including the deplorable road situation in several of my articles, including the one we are discussing.

That, WJM is my answer to your comments and all the time I plan to devote to you.

There are plenty of people who visit this site and are willing to work together for the betterment of all Newfoundland and Labrador. I don't have any further time to waste on a devisive individual like yourself.

When you get it through your head that working together is better than fighting each other come back and we'll chat.

WJM said...

"5 Wing Goose is barely hanging on thanks to a lack of Federal will to keep it alive."

This may come as a surprise to you, but the federal government of Canada does not set defence policies or budgets for the UK, Germany, or any other country.


"Thirdly, you wonder what the minerals in Labrador have to do with a military presence. If you had read the article carefully you would have seen that I was drawing a correllation between the protection of Hans Island which researchers say has no economic value and the lack of protection for this province which does."

And? Again, what do minerals have to do with defence? Hans Island is irrelevant to answering that question.


"Fourth, You ask where the road is being planned for the Arctic. It states clearly in the piece that the plan is to construct a road up the MacKenzie River Valley and into Tuktoyaktuk."

No, there is no such "plan". There is a request by some of the provincial and territorial premiers.

Even if there were such a plan, what is the relevance for Labrador? The Labrador Highway has already benefitted from 90-percent federal funding. It's the PROVINCE of which Labrador is a part, that has shirked its responsibility on this front.


"As for what I have done. I have mentioned the plight of the people of Labrador, including the deplorable road situation in several of my articles, including the one we are discussing."

Write to your MHA and demand that the province spend PROVINCIAL-source dollars on highways in Labrador.


"When you get it through your head that working together is better than fighting each other"

Perhaps you ought to get it through YOUR head that critical-thought questions, and fair criticisms of Newfoundland attitudes and policies when it comes to Labrador, does not constitute "fighting each other".

Labradorians did not abandon their right to free speech, public discourse, or criticism of governments, when Labrador was annexed to Newfoundland in 1809.

Did we?

MacArthur said...

Wallace,

I thought you had been absorbed by the Bytown byes!

Here you are, foisting your fiesty opinions on Myles' blog.

Nice to see that you still have that pedantic parochial patriotism: )

Carry on Myles, I read your blog daily to get political balance, from having read Hollett's liberal leanings.

Have a nice day,

M

MrChills said...

Keep it coming!

Do you think that we could get our good friend Paul Martin to subscribe to this Blog? Once again you have my fired up about the total second class treatment we as Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans receive! Let’s get the pitchforks and torches and march our way to the steps of parliament and remove Frankenstein, I mean Ottawa from their current regime.

The more people talk about the issues here in Newfoundland and the more pride that we take in ourselves, the better we will become, as you can’t beat a proud people. However, the initial comment by the WJM displays what I believe is a common feeling from people in Labrador about Newfoundland. A lot of the people there have the same feeling towards the Island as we do about Ottawa.

Not until both the people of Newfoundland and Labrador become united as one and march towards a common goal will we finally see our voices being heard by Canada.

NL-ExPatriate said...

This one smacks of national/international news coverage content.

If the Canadian news sources refuse to pick it up I'll bet our american friends would run it!

Probably even International, the farce that is Canadian politics would be very poignantly highlighted by an article like this.

While Ontario whines about the real value of central canada pointed out by their fears of becoming a have not province. Just confirms what we already know the have nots have made ontario what it is. If they really were as rich as they claim to be why the fears?

Need to empower myself some more about the D,equalization payments (Claw back).

WJM said...

"Not until both the people of Newfoundland and Labrador become united as one and march towards a common goal will we finally see our voices being heard by Canada."

And not until the people of Newfoundland, and the provincial government, stop treating Labrador in the same way that Newfoundlanders claim they themselves are treated, will their be a province "united as one".

Patriot said...

Good stuff guys and gals. Its nice to see the varied reaction to this piece.

To Mr. Chills specifically. I agree. Many in Labrador do feel the same about Newfoundland as Newfoundland feels about Ottawa and rightfully so.

Where I have a problem is with the fact that anything done or not done in Labrador by Newfoundland is done by the government, not the people.

Take for example most of the people who read this blog. I'm sure most dislike our treatment by Ottawa, but that doesn't mean we blame the Canadian populace. Just the government.

It's when that point doesn't get through to people like WJM that it ticks me off. However rather than continue a debate with this person that can obviously never reach them, I will move on and let him or her do as they wish without my encouraging them by responding.

Patriot said...

Bye the way Expatriat, I thank you for the kind words and just in case you hadn't had a chance to notice. This piece has been picked up by the Canada Free Press and the web site for the Canadian Democratic Movement.

WJM said...

Where I have a problem is with the fact that anything done or not done in Labrador by Newfoundland is done by the government, not the people.

Not true. Certain private companies, municipal and regional bodies, and unions in Newfoundland have taken positions or actions which negatively affect Labrador. The problem of Newfoundland attitudes towards Labrador is not just at the government level.

crazyamerican said...

Parts of the following read as sarcastic, if anyone objects my apologies, I don’t really mean to tread on toes or feelings, but as a relatively frequent reader there are occasions in which taking a step back can be helpful unless you are standing on top of the cliff.

*With my tongue as far back in my cheek as I can and still keep typing*

Seems to me that the best thing to do is to have some poor sucker from Newfoundland or Labrador actually go live on Hans. After a year or so, he can petition the province to annex the island. That way the province can be treated to the occasional Norwegian warship instead of just their fishing fleet. And Ottowa may feel it necessary to send three ships when they can’t seem to find a way to upgrade transportation services. Of course the poor schmuck would not get near the attention from the folks in Labrador, nor for that matter from Newfoundland, after all he’s relatively small. And once he moved there, would it matter if his name was Tony Blair, or Ishmael or even Adams. He’d end up being called Hans. But at least you could get an even more disconnected name out of it all... It could be called the Province of Newfoundland, Labrador and Hans.

Being realistic, he’d probably starve whether or not he voted the liberal party line. And do you think he’s gonna get a new highway or fixed link tunnel anytime soon?

Being serious, I started reading this and other sources of information about Newfoundland and Labrador some time ago when I first began looking at a vacation there.

As I have been know to say on occasion, it’s not how big you are, it’s how you use it.
Labrador from a size standpoint dwarfs the Avalon peninsula and in fact the entire rock. But from a population standpoint, the roles are reversed. But that does not mean that you are in fact so different from each other.

In some ways, when I read of your province, it reminds me of a large family. Each of you know how to pick at the other guys scabs some of which is done in a friendly humored vein, but sometimes it draws blood. And that’s strange because you have a common desire much more than most other geographic groups your size.

The Newfoundlanders suffer from a history of what in retrospect aren’t fair deals. They can’t get paper mills to honor the deals that were made. They can’t get oil companies to build refineries even though the price of oil is higher there than anywhere else in the country. Hell, they can’t even fish where their grandparents did.

The people in Labrador have companies that tell them one thing before the mining starts, and then start paying people to commute rather than live there. They want some government somewhere to keep a promise that was made. They want to have little or no difficulty getting the electricity when it’s so powerful it helps power New York city where I sit writing this.

It sounds to me like what most folks in Labrador want are dealings with the outside world that make the Big Land better, keeping the character, and making the life better in Labrador, not some investor in Montreal or Toronto. Most of the things I read, tell me that the there is a real love for the land, wanting to harvest it’s resources, not pillage them and then run away.

Funny, but I could have said Newfoundlanders in the last paragraph and been just as accurate.

So it’s little wonder whether the people of Labrador and Newfoundland think they get the short end of the deal whether it’s from the Province or the national government.

I could put fancy slogans around all of this.. but the fact is the problem is relatively straightforward. What I read about on these blogs and websites says the one resource that you already have and that you can renew every moment is respect for the people on the other side of the Straits of Belle Isle.

That’s really what you are looking for from the national government. And that’s what the people in Stephenville are looking for from the Mill, and the people on the bay are looking for from the oil companies, and the people in Goose Bay and Wabush are looking for from Voisey.

If you think you don’t get any respect... think of the guy who colonizes Hans 

Patriot said...

TO: American,

WOW!!!

Don't ever refer to yourself as crazy again. You sir (or madam) know Newfoundland and Labrador's issues better than most of the population of the province.

Good on you.

WJM said...

"It sounds to me like what most folks in Labrador want are dealings with the outside world that make the Big Land better, keeping the character, and making the life better in Labrador, not some investor in Montreal or Toronto."

Or St. John's!

From the Labrador perspective, Newfoundland is part of that "outside world" whose dealings leave a lot to be desired. In fact, it's the most significant part of that outside world, and the one with the most immediate powers to make things better... or worse.

NL-ExPatriate said...

What do you think of the 400 person petition from Nova Scotia to stop the construction of any proposed N-L fixed link namely from St BArbe to Blanc Sablanc area?

WJM said...

What do you think of the 400 person petition from Nova Scotia to stop the construction of any proposed N-L fixed link namely from St BArbe to Blanc Sablanc area?

I'd have to see the text of the petition to give a more specific answer, but good for them! It's a free country. People can draw up petitions about any old thing.

I don't have much worries about it, though. I'd be worried about the people within the province, in the Lewisporte and Port aux Basques areas, who don't want Labrador to become a gateway to the province, and St. Barbe to become a gateway to Newfoundland, which will happen when Labrador is fully connected to the highway network.

Those are the people we have to worry about.

I thought the petition was against ACOA money being spent on the "pre-feasability" study? If so, that horse is long out of the barn...