Dropping a Russian flag on the North Pole didn't make it Russian territory and placing a maple leaf there doesn't make it Canadian Territory either

Justin Trudeau is on the side of scientists.



July 13, 2014: Here is another reason to do basic science research, to understand the country we live in, so that we’re not lacking crucial information needed to hold our own against other countries.

While Canada makes fanciful claims, Russia acts to secure its position in the Arctic, MATTHEW FISHER, POSTMEDIA NEWS

Recently, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was asked if the North Pole is in Canada. I’m not sure why the media asked him this, because under international law, no country currently “owns” the North Pole or the seabed. Canada, Russia, Norway, Denmark, and the United States are all trying to provide a basis to claim the extended continental shelf, which would mean that that country would have exclusive rights to resources on or below the seabed.

Justin answered the question exactly as a leader should: thoughtfully. He responded by explaining, “I’m going to defer to scientists. There has been an awful lot of work done over the past years and even decades on mapping out the undersea floor and the North Pole to align with the United Nations regulations on responsibility for it.”

Somehow, some of the media and the Conservative government have turned deferring to scientists into a negative! Last week, the Conservative MP from the Yukon suggested that Justin’s comments were somehow “soft on sovereignty.”

I believe in the rule of law. Here, Canada’s right to the arctic seabed depends on geology. Only solid science tells you how to apply the law.

Indeed, the Conservatives have now undercut Canada’s claim to the North Pole precisely because this attack on Justin Trudeau makes it seem that the Harper Government wants to claim the North Pole for domestic political reasons.

The rule of law is not respected if one asserts that the North Pole “should” be Canadian independent of science, as the Conservatives have done and as they have chided Justin Trudeau for refusing to do. This is exactly the sort of flag-staking territory grab that has escalated into so many unnecessary conflicts and tragedies in humanity’s collective past.

Indeed, defending a claim of the North Pole, in disregard of the geological science, even in the best of circumstances, would require Canada to prevail in a long expensive confrontation with other claimants. This may include Russia but will certainly include Denmark, who most scientists believe has the strongest claim.

There is much at risk in the Arctic. The Canadian government must defend those interests in a responsible manner. We do not do that by submitting an exaggerated claim based on domestic political expediency and jingoism. I ask Canadians, are you willing to put so much at risk when there is an alternative?

Perhaps it would be saner to let the scientists, diplomats and legal experts work it out and follow their advice.

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