http://ow.ly/1ikFQ [full text here]
A day after the U.S. Coast Guard's top commander declared the Arctic a region of "extreme focus" for the U.S. — by announcing plans to bolster the American icebreaker fleet by bringing an aging icebreaker out of retirement — a Liberal senator and a leading Arctic expert are calling for stronger commitments from the Canadian government to project this country's presence in the polar realm.
William Rompkey, the Liberal senator who recently headed a probe of the Canadian Coast Guard's capabilities in the Arctic, said the U.S. government's $62 million plan to reactivate the 34-year-old, 130-metre Polar Star is a further sign of the growing sense of urgency in the region — and of Canada's need to build, refurbish or even lease more ships quickly, or face "chaos" in the Northwest Passage.
"If we're saying this is our territory, we've got to be there," Rompkey, chair of the Senate fisheries committee, told Canwest News Service on Thursday. "Or we've got to stop saying it's our territory."
University of Calgary political scientist Rob Huebert agreed that Canada could learn a lesson from the U.S. despite that country's own slow recognition of the growing strategic significance of the Arctic Ocean.
"The Americans had let the Polar Star languish," he said, but then "all of a sudden they realize the Arctic is important and boom — things start to happen. "