Northern premiers say Canada can’t have Arctic security without infrastructure – by Chuck Chiang (CBC News North/Canadian Press – July 5, 2023)

Arctic security is under renewed focus as Russia and China eye the region, but leaders in the North say Canada won’t be able to exert sovereignty if their communities aren’t built up properly. The premiers from all three Northern territories say the federal government, while mindful of the need to strengthen Arctic security, has lacked a cohesive infrastructure plan to construct the foundation required to reach that goal.

Northwest Territories Premier Caroline Cochrane said in an interview that while policymakers have increased talks of building up the North, few concrete plans for key infrastructure such as hospitals, telecommunications, airports and road systems have emerged.

Without those plans and proper funding, Cochrane said it would be difficult for the federal government to achieve its goal of stronger Arctic security. “Without all-season roads, people don’t have access to labour markets and cost-effective food,” she said. “You need communications so that when you send up whatever they’re going to do to secure the Arctic, you have the infrastructure to communicate.”

She added that “everything starts with health care. I hope no one gets really sick because our capacity is very limited.” In June, the Senate released a report that said “more must be done” by the federal government in the North given “an ever-changing geopolitical context, rising interest and activity in the Arctic,” as well as climate change.

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