Prime Minister Stephen Harper is right to seek more, rather than less, of the Arctic for Canada, and specifically the North Pole. It is not easy to see why Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Leader, and Denis Bevington, the NDP MP for the Western Arctic, are objecting. Russia made a similar claim to the Pole as long ago as 2001; Denmark (on behalf of Greenland) and Norway are interested, too. There is no reason for Canada to cede polar territory to Russia or any other country, by default.
Nobody is talking about military skirmishes between Canada and Russia, let alone any Scandinavian country. There is a peaceful adjudication process under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which all these countries have adhered. The United States is interested, too, but since it has not ratified the convention, it cannot take part in the process.
A state can make a claim based on its view that parts of a seabed are extensions of its continental shelf. In particular, the 1,800-kilometre-long Lomonosov Ridge, rich in oil and gas, may be an extension of the shelf of Canada or Russia or Greenland. That’s under debate because, not surprisingly, the mapping of the floor of the Arctic seabed is a difficult task.
Mr. Trudeau thinks all this should be left to the experts. Fair enough, but that’s exactly what’s being done. And when you appear before a court, you try to make the strongest case possible. Mr. Harper was right to instruct civil servants to put Canada’s best foot forward on the continental shelf. Make the claim, let the process decide.