Monday, September 03, 2007

(sigh)...Jack, Jack, Jack

I try not to make my blog overly political...really I do. It just seems that whenever Jack Layton opens his mouth, I can't help but grit my teeth to some extent. And given my last dentist bill, I should either just ignore the guy or hope for his early retirement from Canada's political landscape.

To be fair, there are a few things on which I agree with Layton. But really, most of his response to Harper's recent announcements on how to enforce arctic sovereignty are to my mind pure political opportunism.

Quoting from a recent CBC article - "Canada's best claim to sovereignty is the fact that Inuit communities have been established across the North for thousands of years." -- gee, Jack, I never realized Arctic Bay, for example had been around that long. The community only sprouted up in the 1960's. Actually there are quite a few islands up here that are totally uninhabited. What Layton fails to mention about the whole Canada/US debate over the Northwest Passage is that the US has no issue with Canada's claim to the northern islands. Its the WATER between those islands which the United States claims as an international passageway. Therefore, Jack, ships of some sort are a smart idea......unless of course you want to come up here and start walking on water to help defend the Northwest Passage. Of course, no politician of any stripe could flatter themselves by making a claim like that.


Juanasi Akumalik said...

(ah..hmmmm?) Darcy, Darcy, Darcy

Its nice to see when someone can convey their ideas and politics is always interesting to covey ideas, everyone always comes up with their own opinion. I for one would like to put forward...You probably right to say that you need to ignore Jack, but also ingnore Harper, Dion and Duceppe, mind you, Okalik and McGuinty, and the rest. There are people who will eventually take over.

You are right that its all about sovereignty what Jack and Harper (alias Jill) are doing.

I think your term "community" can be interpreted in a lot of ways. Tunnunirusiq (alias Arctic Bay) has been around for a bit but the terminology "Ikpiarjuk and Arctic Bay" are new. Tunnunirsuq is the mountain you can almost see, its behind the Uluksan point. Its referenced to; : "A mountain facing away from the north (or sun)". It has been recognized by early Tuniit as Tununirusiq. Qillaqsuarq stayed at Uluksan Point before he moved on to Devon Island and Tunnunirusiq was there.

Although I am not a member of any party, I am happy that Layton was able to consult with Inuit whereas Harper, Dion, Duceppe or whoever never consulted with Inuit and I am happy that a party was able to come to north and act as a balance to this whole political equation.

I think Resolute and Arctic Bay should construct a laser like monitoring system so that Inuit can benefit form the vessels and submarines (there are such cases) that do use Landcaster Sound and impose fee....I don't know.

We Inuit never has asked Quebec to start looking after their contaminated bulugas and or ever asked to make new policies for Walkertown issues...

Nunavut politics should be included in your cirriculum this year....?

Happy teaching!

Way Way Up said...

Thank you for your comments Juanasi. I recall seeing the term Tununirusiq on a few old maps and was always curious about where the word came from.

I have to admit that most of my reasons for the Layton bashing are strictly ideological. From what I know of northern history, the North only seems to enter southern consciousness when southerners have a vested interest in the region....oil, mining, Northwest Passage and so on.

I eagerly await the day when the North can exist in its own right and not just an appendage of southern Canada.

Clare said...

I think that Joanasie hit on a keep concept here, in reference to you post. The community of Arctic Bay, like other Arctic Communities, has only existed a short while if we think in terms of a town or village or what have you (Although you're wrong when you say the 1960's. Arctic Bay was first established as a Hudson's Bay Company Post in 1927, and closed the next year. It was re-opened in 1933 and a "community" eventually sprung up around it. Kautaq Joseph, an elder who passed away a couple of years ago this October, lived here since 1933 as her father was an employee of HBC. There wasn't a concerted effort to move people here off the land until the late 60's, early 70's, when homes were built for inuit, school was established etc.) But if you think of community in the larger sense, communities have existed up here for millenniums. These communities were sometimes single families, or grew and waned as needs and wants changed. But make no mistake that people have lived, and made use of the land for upwards of 5,000 years. Even islands that you speak of as being uninhabited, such as Devon, had people living there at various times, and have been used by communities as hunting grounds etc.

While you are right that it is the waterways that are contested not the land, the sovereignty stems from the land surrounding the waterways. The international law that applies to sovereignty of the oceans can be applied in different ways, that either hurt or help Canada's case. A country is sovereign over its ocean for 12 miles off shore. There is a further "economic" zone of 200 kms, in which the resources are considered the countries, but not the waterway itself. Canada's position is that the NW Passage is an internal waterway, running through the Arctic Archipelago, therefore sovereignty of the land is key to their arguement.

Ships are a smart idea, but we already have them patroling up here, the Canadian Coast Guard does an admirable job up here, and naval ships are redundant. Unless you talk about "enforcing" our sovereignty at the point of a gun, and are we really going to fire on one of our friends naval vessels that comes to escort one of their merchant ships through. True enforcement needs to have the basis of law behind it, not just force, and therefore sovereignty MUST be established through international law first.

As for walking on water, while it may not happen for much longer if climate change continues as it is, that is exactly what happens here for 3/4's of the year, and it should be key to Canada's claim of sovereignty. People here have made use of this waterway, traveling over it on the ice for much of the year, hunting, and trapping and moving communities, for thousands of years. This was happening long before Canada existed, but now those people are Canadians and that use should be key to Canada's claim to sovereignty.

And as far as the much ballyhooed economic benefits of the new patrol vessels the North will see very little of it. The vast majority of the $8 billion will be spent in the south, where the ships will be built, maintained and outfitted.

Way Way Up said...

Thank you for your comment Clare. It really gives me the impetus for looking closely into this important issue for my teaching as well as myh own social interest. I just hope I can put down a decent rebuttal given the late hour.

Indeed I took the meaning of the term "community" in the article in its Southern sense of built-up areas, roads etc.

My worry is that the US will simply not accept Canadian sovereignty no matter what international rulings are made. The US has a poor history of moving into areas and taking them over (Mexico, most of South America and the Middle East, Iraq). It took a show of force on the part of Canada's navy in order to prevent over-fishing in the Grand Banks. Unfortunately a bit too late to save the cod. Canada needs to be more pro-active when it comes to the Northwest Passage.

I know the Coast Guard does their patrols, but it is a rather long haul down to their southern bases so I feel that some sort of nothern port is a good idea.

Canada is embarassingly behind the Nordic countries when it comes to northern social development and we sorely need to get our act together.

There is however, a military aspect to enforcing Northern sovereignty no matter how distasteful this may appear to some. I just feel that whenever anything remotely military is mentioned, left-wing nuts poo-poo the notion and use if to promote their own shallow political and historically inaccurate view of Canada as just a quiet, non-militaristic nation. In my mind, this only serves to weaken Canada's image when it comes to enforcing our Northern sovereignty. We are seen as weak, ineffectual push-overs rather than willing to stand up for ourselves. I know I am starting to cross over into a slew of other political issues. No one ever accused me of not have strong political views I suppose, so I will wrap up my essay here.