From Security to Sovereignty Essay

Submitted By Gazelle1
Words: 1167
Pages: 5

From Security to Sovereignty: The Canadian Arctic, from Strategic to Economic Interests


This short essay will focus, analyze and provide concrete examples of the mutations of the reasons behind Canada’s motivations to gain sovereignty over the Arctic from 1945 until today. I will attempt to highlight the similarities and/or differences in Canada’s needs and /or interests in protecting the Arctic. I will hopefully reflect some of the key evolutions to the Canadian Military, which were directly link to the Arctic sovereignty. I will describe the two periods, followed by an individual analysis or comparison and end with a conclusion. All will be supported by the appropriate footnotes and bibliographies references as required.

First Description: The Cold War

The “Cold War”[i] was the continuing state of conflict, tension, and competition that existed after World War II. The Cold War began in the mid-1940s and lasted into the early 1990s. When made clear that the Arctic would be of strategic importance to both Superpowers. Especially, after the testing of Nuclear weapons by the Soviet, it was evident that Western security was at risk. Therefore National security demanded action. Canada lacking the resources to do so on its own was essentially forced to join “NORAD”[ii]. Canada’s need and interests dictated an Arctic patrol program was required. With its neighbor and solid ally, they establish 3 radar networks including the “DEW”[iii] line. At sea, the Navy generally decreased as the Cold War progressed, no ice breaker until 1954 and reduced to sporadic warship patrol into the Arctic during the summer. The idea of acquiring nuclear submarines surfaced a few times but usually dissipated quickly. The role of Canadian submarine in those waters during that period was nearly nonexistent.

Second Description: After the Cold War

The period following the Cold War is often referred to un-imaginatively as the “Post cold War”.[iv] Since the late 90’s the role of Canadian Submarine in the Arctic waters patrol has changed. With the aging fleet of Oberon class submarine, the Canadian Government and the Royal Canadian Navy had to make tough decisions and choices. This culminated in 1998 with “Lease/buy” arrangement of 4 United Kingdom “Upholder/Victoria Class”[v] diesel-electric submarines. This Strategic weapon was crucial for Canada’s ability and aspiration to eventually cut its ties to its giant neighbor to the south on its Arctic Defense Policy. Moreover, this provided Canada with a capable offensive power capability in terms of its effect on other countries behavior when dealing with our sovereignty. As displayed in the 1995 Spain fisheries confrontation. This acquisition brought Canada into a select group of countries possessing this asset also allowing us more say as well demonstrated by the development of the Water space Management Agreement. This instant and others help assure Canada’s sovereignty and control over its policy in the Arctic in the process.


The major differences between the Cold War and the Post Cold War period when it comes to Canada’s needs and/or Interests in protecting the Arctic were substantial. During the Cold War era, other than the occasional foot or air patrol, not much resource was ever dispensed by the Canadian Government. On the other hand during the Post Cold War, Canada realized the importance of the Arctic to his sovereignty and international status as a player. The role played by the Canadian submarines in the Arctic waters patrol is one of irony is that the one ocean to which it has the greatest difficulty sailing is the Arctic Ocean. While it can deploy and maintain almost all its ships off the coast of any country for extended periods of time, it has almost no ability to maintain a presence in Canada’s third ocean. Throughout most of the Cold War, Canada left the protection of the Arctic Ocean to its allies. During the