OTTAWA, Canada (AFP) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government on Tuesday unveiled a 10-year strategic plan for Canada’s resource-rich Arctic region that included strengthening its military presence and responding to increasing international competition.
The Arctic offers petroleum deposits and wood, as well as a major maritime shortcut between Europe and Asia through the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
“Canada remains committed to exercising its sovereignty” over the route, which other countries, including the United States, consider international waters, a policy document said.
“There is growing international interest and competition in the Canadian Arctic from state and non-state actors who seek to share in the region’s rich natural resources and strategic position,” the document said.
“Climate change, combined with advancements in technology, has made access to the region easier.”
It said that a key goal of the government was to “enhance Canada’s military presence… in the Arctic and the north.”
The policy framework document said that 2017 saw a 22 percent increase in sea traffic through the Canadian Arctic on the previous year, when the first modern, 1,000-passenger foreign cruise ship passed through the entire Northwest Passage.
Canada will hold elections on October 21 with Trudeau’s Liberal Party seeking to fight off a strong challenge from the Conservatives, led by Andrew Scheer.