Canada Seeks Sovereign Ownership over Important Arctic Waters

Jim Balsillie, former CEO of research in Motion, has discovered the HMS Erebus, one of two ships lost during the British Navy’s 1845 quest to find the Northwest Passage. Discovery of the HMS Erebus, may grant Canada control over an important maritime region of the Arctic. Bloomberg Business details the importance of the Northwest Passage and the symbolic magnitude of the discovery.

Canada wants jurisdiction over the waters of the Northwest Passage and, importantly, the ships that traverse it. “It’s becoming more accessible, and that access is changing everything,” says Robert Huebert, a professor in the political science department at the University of Calgary who specializes in Arctic issues. “It means the Arctic has a connection to the international system that it has never had before.”

The ship, as well as the unsuccessful expeditions to find it in the 19th century, established England’s historical ties to Arctic waters, and Canada believes it inherited those ties when it inherited the islands from the British crown.

“We think every bit of weight we can put behind our case for sovereignty is important,” announced Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in 2008. “Adding history to that equation can only enhance that case.”

Balsillie took that idea to heart. “The discovery of the Erebus wasn’t the end of a story,” says Balsillie. “I knew it was the beginning.”

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