With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparking concerns about Arctic security, the Premier of the Northwest Territories recently held high-level talks with military, security and intelligence officials, as we as federal cabinet ministers, on Arctic sovereignty.
Premier Caroline Cochrane discussed the talks in her opening statement at a sitting of the Legislative Assembly on March 28. She said that earlier this month, she attended a confidential briefing with “officials at the highest level of military, security and intelligence branches of the federal government.”
She said she also met with the ministers of National Defence and Northern Affairs to discuss Arctic sovereignty.
Cochrane also said the three territorial premiers wrote two letters urging discussions on Arctic sovereignty: One to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and one to B.C. Premier John Horgan, who chairs the Council of the Federation.
Cochrane said she would table those letters later in the Assembly sitting.
Despite the uncertainty caused by the past month’s events in Eastern Europe, Cochrane said the issue of Arctic sovereignty is much broader than the threat of Russian aggression, given the wealth of resources that exist in the North.
“This heightened interest is not only from Russia, but other world powers like China, the United States, and other Arctic nations,” said Cochrane. “It’s paramount for Northerners that we’re involved in decisions that impact the North.”
She said preserving Arctic sovereignty was also about reducing inequality between Northern and southern Canada: “It is also about building strong, resilient communities through significant investment in critical infrastructure like roads, telecommunications and energy. It also means strong healthcare and education systems and the elimination of gaps between North and South.”