Career bureaucrat will lead Canada’s senior Arctic officials at Arctic Council

CanNor president Patrick Borbey will chair SAO meetings


When Canada starts its two-year term chairing the Arctic Council this May, Patrick Borbey, president of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, will serve as chair of the Arctic Council’s senior Arctic officials.

As SAO chair, Borbey will work closely with senior Arctic officials from the eight Arctic states that comprise the Arctic Council, as well as with the heads of the Arctic Council’s six indigenous permanent participants, in managing the Arctic Council’s activities during Canada’s chairmanship.

“Senior Arctic officials” is the term given to those diplomats and other civil servants from the Arctic Council’s eight member states who represent their countries between ministerial meetings.

“As Canada assumes the chairmanship in May of this year, we will lead the important work of the Arctic Council. Mr. Borbey’s extensive experience working with northerners will be a great asset in his role as the chair of the Arctic senior officials,” Nunavut MP and health minister Leona Aglukkaq, who is also minister for CanNor and the Arctic Council, said in a news release.

During Canada’s chairmanship, the council will focus on development for the people of the North, responsible Arctic resource development, safe Arctic shipping and sustainable circumpolar communities, the news release said.

Borbey, a career bureaucrat, will continue to serve as CanNor president.

Sigrid Anna Johnson, Canada’s current SAO, will continue to represent Canada at the Arctic Council.

Before the Conservative government decided in 2006 to make circumpolar affairs part of the “bureaucratic, day-to-day running of the department,” an “Arctic Ambassador” served as the top SAO for Canada.

Mary Simon, Canada’s first circumpolar ambassador, held the job between 1994 and 2003. Jack Anawak then replaced Simon, but he was dumped in 2006.

Aglukkaq, the Canadian cabinet minister responsible for the Arctic Council, is also named as ambassador to the Arctic Council.

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