Earlier this month Canada began its two-year tenure as the
chair of the Arctic Council ("AC"). There is little doubt
that Canada has assumed the helm at the most dynamic and
challenging time in the organization's 17 year history.
Since its inception in 1996, the eight permanent members1 of the
AC have focused their efforts primarily on facilitation cooperation
and development in their common geographic spheres, and on issues
that affected the populations in those areas. The AC's two
principal resolutions to date have focused on cooperation in Arctic
search and rescue, and responding to environmental disasters.
The Canadian Chair at the AC will be held by Hon. Leona
Aglukkaq, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development
Agency and Minister of Health. Canada's stated goals for its
chairmanship will be the promotion of business in the Arctic, as
well as increasing opportunity for indigenous people to participate
in the Arctic's development. The desire to use the AC as a
forum for the promotion of business represents a new direction for
the AC, away from its traditional areas of concern.
Second, not only have the possibilities of the AC as forum
changed, but its membership has also dramatically shifted. This
month, the ranks of the organization swelled when Italy, Singapore,
Japan, South Korea and most notably, India and China were granted
permanent observer status. This alone represents a dramatic shift
in the member states' conception of the role and function of
the AC, particularly when considering that over the past 12 months
members including Norway, the United States, Russia and Canada
were, at varying times, cool to the idea of extending observer
status to China, in particular. The fear seemed to be that the
permanent members' influence could weaken against the interests
of outside states.
However, the AC was arguably outmaneuvered and forced to open
its ranks in the face of China's recent bilateral free trade
agreement with Iceland, as well as the establishment of the
"Arctic Circle", an open forum designed to make
"Arctic issues" accessible to a range of actors,
including non-state organizations that do not have access to the
AC. By increasing the accessibility and the scope of its mission,
the AC has helped solidify its legitimacy and place as the
exclusive Arctic affairs body.
The inescapable conclusion of these recent events and the
changes within the AC itself is that the Arctic has been brought
into the international mainstream. Canada's challenge will be
balancing its stated objectives amid intense pressure to reduce
carbon emissions, while also promoting safe and sustainable
development for Arctic peoples. Moreover, the resolution of
longstanding competing interests amongst the permanent members,
including maritime boundary issues, will likely be complicated by
interests in energy exploration and navigation amongst not only the
permanent member themselves, but by the observers as well.
Of course, Canada's assumption of the leadership of the AC
at this time, with this agenda, presents a tremendous opportunity
for Canadians and Canadian businesses. The surge in interest and
activity in the Arctic will likely have an impact across a range of
industries, including energy, mining, ship building, and air and
marine transport, all of which will likely be encouraged to invest
and expand their operations in the Arctic. While the challenges
will be great, the leadership of the AC presents Canada with an
opportunity to shape the dialogue around how the Arctic is
understood and imagined, and to establish itself as a leader in
this growing and dynamic economic and geopolitical space.
1Canada, the United States, Russia, Iceland,
Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
In Bank of Montreal v Bumper Development Corporation Ltd, 2016 ABQB 363, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench enforced the "immediate replacement" provision in the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen 2007 Operating Procedure...
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