Is the North Pole Canadian?

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

It's a widespread belief — at least in this country — that the North Pole is part of Canadian territory.

Now, our federal government is trying to formalize that as part of a submission to a United Nations commission currently accepting claims for seabed rights in the far north.

As explained by the Globe and Mail, Canada was supposed to make its Arctic claim by Friday, but instead will be making a partial submission while they work with scientists "to build a case for the Pole."

The Canadian government plans to announce next week that it will be launching evidence-gathering efforts to determine whether it can lay claim to the geographic North Pole.

Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a country can secure control of ocean floor beyond the internationally recognized 200-nautical-mile limit if it can demonstrate the seabed is an extension of its continental shelf.

Russia and Denmark have also staked claims to the North Pole — and other large parts of the Arctic — in an attempt to reap the benefits from that area of the world which could contain as much as one-quarter of the planet's undiscovered energy resources.

The University of Calgary's Rob Huebert says that while Canada's claim is strong, the other countries have legitimate arguments as well.

"The reality is everybody is going to try to maximize the amount that they can claim," he told CTV News.

"From what we know from public sources I think all three countries probably have some basis for the science that their doing to include the North Pole and in fact to dig a little bit into the other guys submission at this point in time.

"It's going to be interesting to see how ultimately all this fills out."

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Whatever the UN decides, don't expect any sort of territorial war — a cold one or otherwise, according to one Russian expert.

"Putin wants to collaborate with Western powers. He does not want to be treated as a secondary power. He wants to be considered to be equal," University of Ottawa professor Ivan Katchanovski told CBC News.

"Any confrontation would be detrimental to the Russian image abroad."

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This issue, however, has become another opportunity for the Tories to attack Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

On Wednesday, according to Sun News, Trudeau was asked: "Do you think the claim to the North Pole is with Canada?"

"I'm going to defer to scientists," the Liberal leader said.

"There has been an awful lot of work done over the past years and even decades on mapping out the undersea floor and the North Pole to align with the United Nations regulations on responsibility for it."

Trudeau's somewhat meek response led to this reaction from Tory MP Ryan Leef in the House of Commons on Thursday:

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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