A Combined Approach to Security: New Arctic Strategy of Canada

Arctic Strategy of Canada
Photo: REUTERS 2014

A thought-provoking report devoted to the new defense strategy of Canada and the country's cooperation with the US was made at the venue of the event The Arctic Our — Global Neighbourhood. Some of the key issues raised in Canada's and the US' defense documents were highlighted which arise peculiar thoughts about the theoretical side of things in Canadian policy.

Aside from plain and more common realpolitik defense issues like NATO and NORAD cooperation, arms and defense expenses in general, Canada introduced some priorities specifically for the Arctic Region which indicate an influence of constructivist-like train of thought.

These priorities appear in a new document Our North, Strong and Free: A Renewed Vision for Canada’s Defence, and some of the security issues and priorities remind that of securitization. This is a very common practice for Canada in recent years to build its security strategy upon social and ecological agenda, e. g. in the 2019 Arctic and Northern Policy Framework.

Canada securitizes issues of domestic policy very actively. That is, for example, "malicious activity by non-state actors in the world and online", building new partnerships and reconciliation with indigenous peoples and especially standing against climate change.

Worth noting that a rapid development of AI in the world is, too, named as a threat that will become a potential for stronger weapons in the future.

From the realistic standpoint, Canada for the first time names the countries in its strategic documents: highlights the alleged threat of Russia and China increasing their presence in the Arctic. This concern is tied to sovereignty - "Defending the Arctic is asserting Canadian sovereignty," it says in the document. The document also notes strategic competition in the world and problems in the Euro-Atlantic region.

There are two factors that might backpedal the strategy: the first being the financial reasons - Canada might not have enough resources to support the plans, second - following elections in Canada in 2025, the results of which are still uncertain because of the low ratings of both the leading and opposing parties. However, we can be sure that defense concerns will still be at the centre of attention and will stay intact, while ecological and social agenda might change with time.

Russian think tanks continue to study Canadian policy in the Arctic with close attention. The key points remain the security issues and continuous militarization of the region, as well as the dynamics of Northwest Passage’s use, since it remains important for Russian plans on the NSR.

Editorial board