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Prime Minister Harper bolsters Arctic sovereignty with science and infrastructure announcements

5 October 2007

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced a series of scientific and infrastructure projects to help bolster Canada's Arctic sovereignty.

"Scientific inquiry and development are absolutely essential to Canada's defence of its North, as they enhance our knowledge of, and presence in, the region," said the Prime Minister. "Like I've said so many times before, use it or lose it is the first principle of sovereignty."

At a scientific research and education facility in Churchill, Manitoba, Prime Minister Harper unveiled the final 26 projects selected by the Government of Canada as part of its $150 million commitment to International Polar Year (IPY). Launched in March 2007, IPY is bringing together thousands of scientists and researchers from more than 60 nations to conduct scientific research focused on the Arctic and Antarctic regions. In total, 43 Canadian-projects are already underway.

Included among the topics of study are:

  • How polar bears, seals, and whales are adapting to climate change;
  • The level and origin of toxic chemicals in the Arctic air; and
  • Changes to the Canadian cryosphere - the snow, frozen ground, glaciers, ice caps, and lake, river, and sea ice that feature prominently in the Canadian North.

Demonstrating the government's commitment to the economic development of this region the province, the Prime Minister announced that the federal government and the province of Manitoba will commit to cost sharing $40 million for the upgrade to the rail line between The Pas and Churchill. Additionally, Prime Minister Harper also announced that the federal government and the province have agreed to cost share up to $8 million for improvements at the Port of Churchill.

"A strong and sovereign Arctic must be a healthy and prosperous Arctic. In the weeks and months that lie ahead, our government will continue to introduce measures aimed at unleashing the North's true potential," said the Prime Minister.