Nunavut senator calls being banned from Russia a 'badge of honour'

·2 min read
Senator Dennis Patterson says that he is dismayed at how Russia's invasion of Ukraine has put a stop to Arctic cooperation on areas of mutual interest, especially protecting shared Arctic waters. (Senate of Canada - image credit)
Senator Dennis Patterson says that he is dismayed at how Russia's invasion of Ukraine has put a stop to Arctic cooperation on areas of mutual interest, especially protecting shared Arctic waters. (Senate of Canada - image credit)

Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson is on the growing list of Canadian public figures the Kremlin has banned from Russia, but he doesn't mind.

In fact, Patterson considers it a "badge of honour" to be blacklisted by "that horrible tyrant Vladimir Putin."

Patterson said he and many other Canadians have been put on Russia's "stop list" because Canada sanctioned Vladimir Putin's daughters and his wealthy friends.

"This is an attempt to retaliate against Canadians," he told CBC News.

On April 13, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs banned all Canadian senators from visiting the country, including N.W.T. Senator Margaret Dawn Anderson and Pat Duncan, senator for Yukon.

A news release announcing the move describes this as a countermeasure to Ottawa's "hostile actions."

Memories of 'peaceful' times

Patterson travelled in northern Russia extensively when Mikhail Gorbachev led the Soviet Union, a time he referred to as "peaceful."

In those travels, Patterson said he met Indigenous peoples in Russia's North who want connections with people in Alaska and the circumpolar North.

Russia recently began to chair the Arctic Council and Patterson said the invasion of Ukraine has frozen that work.

He said the war will sideline important cooperation on issues of climate change, environmental monitoring and social issues that are common across the circumpolar world.

"I'm really sad that this inconceivable war has prevented this ongoing collaboration between two Arctic nations that have a lot in common," he said.

'Ominous' developments

In a social media post, Patterson also said that Russia under Vladimir Putin has promoted Arctic development primarily as a place for resource extraction, and "more ominously for militarization of the Arctic."

Russia has increasingly militarized its north, Patterson noted, reopening 50 previously closed military bases in the Arctic, including 13 air bases equipped with missiles that can travel faster than the speed of sound — 1,225 kilometres per hour — and has an ice-breaker fleet of at least 40 ships.

There are 18 icebreakers in Canada's Coast Guard fleet and new icebreakers won't be completed until 2030.

Patterson said he hoped that part of the $6 billion federal military budget would be spent beefing up northern security by modernizing the north warning system and supporting the Canadian Rangers to expand their marine capabilities.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting