Friday, April 18, 2014

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tough talk on defending Canada’s Arctic are not substantive, according to US cables leaked Friday.

Harper’s government has routinely touted Canadian sovereignty over the vast, desolate north as a “very high priority” and has publicly called for increased militarization of the Arctic to protect Canada’s disputed claims in the region.

The prime minister himself has announced plans for a sensor net, more navy patrols and airport improvements, and a military training camp in the far north.

The country also has stepped up its military alertness along its northern frontier, according to Defense Minister Peter MacKay, largely in response to Russian “testing” its boundaries with military flights skirting the border, a practice not seen since the Cold War.

However, cables released by website WikiLeaks indicate that US diplomats in Ottawa viewed Harper’s aggressive statements as mere posturing and a partisan strategy to win voter support.

The cable said the Harper government has done little on its Arctic promises but has made domestic political gains regardless.

“Conservatives make concern for ‘The North’ part of their political brand . . . and it works,” says the note, entitled “Canada’s Conservative Government and its Arctic Focus.”

The United States thinks Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tough talk on Canadian Arctic sovereignty is little more than chest-thumping meant to attract votes.

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