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Yukon MP says Harper’s all talk, no action

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Stephen Harper may try to sell himself as the great defender of Arctic security, but the facts speak differently.

Every summer, in an annual display of all talk and no action, Stephen Harper comes up North, does a lot of photo-ops, and then it’s all forgotten about, until a year later when he does the trip again and we see that little-to-no progress has been made. It’s insulting to the people who live here.

For five years, Mr. Harper has been promising new armed heavy icebreakers, up to eight new northern naval patrol vessels, a new military-civilian deep-water docking facility in Iqaluit, a new Arctic National Sensor System for northern waters, a new Canadian Forces Arctic training centre, new fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft, new ice-strengthened military supply ships, to have Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles patrol the Northwest Passage, and to make cooperation and diplomacy with other Arctic nations a hallmark of Canada’s northern policy.

None of these things have materialized.

None.

Since 2007, he has been promising a plan to help Canada deal with climate change, and ultimately help communities in the North that are being hit the hardest. Again, no plan has been put in place. The same can be said of our arctic oil spill preparedness and response regime: no plan.

Funding cuts to climate research has meant the end of important Arctic research and the impending closure of a unique Arctic research station.

After five years of Stephen Harper, little has been done to help increase medical services in communities in the North, where one physician is responsible for the health of as many as 3,333 patients, compared to an average of 438 people per doctor in the southern parts of the country.

A new poll shows that a majority of Canadians think the Arctic should be the country’s top foreign-policy priority.

It’s unfortunate that, once again, the Harper Conservative government is so out of step with them.

Larry Bagnell
Liberal Critic for Arctic Issues
and Northern Development,
Member of Parliament, Yukon

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