Monday, March 24, 2008

Canada and Sovereignty

There are a couple of interesting articles in today's Globe and Mail having to do with the Canadian Arctic. The first concerns possible sale of MDA's geospatial unit to a US company and the potential implications for Arctic sovereignty. In short, the company is responsible for the Radarsat-2 technology, which allows Canada to detect any intrusion into its Arctic waters by vessels larger than three meters. Considering that the US is one of the countries challenging Canada's sovereignty in its Arctic waters, selling the MDA unit to an American weapons maker doesn't seem the least bit sensible. Quote one:
"The Prime Minister talks about sovereignty - use it or lose it. And yet we have a tool that is excellent for Arctic surveillance, monitoring of our internal waters that are contested by the Americans and other countries, and now we're going to sell this asset to an American company," [former commander of the Northern Area] Mr. Leblanc said.

"The American government takes sovereignty very seriously, and when it's in their national interest to cut off access to information, they do it. So even though the company that's buying the system has pledged to continue to provide data from the satellite, if it was not in the national interest of the U.S. to provide that information at some point, you can bet a month's salary it won't be provided."

Quote two:

"In my view it's ridiculous," Prof. Huebert [of the University of Calgary] said. "We've never thought strategically and it just astonishes me that we're probably the only country that we know of with this type of technology, and we [don't] understand its significance," he said.

The second article is to do with Operation Nunalivut, part of Canada's mission to strongly assert its sovereignty in the North.
This year's Operation Nunalivut - Inuktitut for "the land is ours" - will send three patrols between the Eureka weather station about midway up the west coast of Ellesmere Island and CFB Alert on its upper tip, the most northerly habitation in the world. The patrols set off later this week and are scheduled to rendezvous back in Eureka on April 13.

All but a handful of the patrollers will be Canadian Rangers, a largely aboriginal reserve force skilled in the ways of the land that guides the regular forces through the treacherous sea ice and ever-shifting weather.

Here's a third G&M article that has nothing to do with the Arctic, but gives an interesting and frustrating example of Canadian companies being forced to break Canadian laws when using software tools including various Google services, due to draconian US anti-privacy legislation.

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