Vanguard Magazine

Dec/Jan 2015

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Page 11 of 47

A ARCTIC 12 dECEMBER 2014/JanUaRy 2015 So the short answer is that the Northern Strategy is well into implementation. That said, one must acknowledge that some of the most highly anticipated and needed major Arctic security and defence projects are delayed or stalled for various reasons. Legitimate questions are outstanding about when these projects will fi nally get underway, and what will trigger them. Those questions were in my head when this summer's events in Ukraine unfolded and with them a sudden and dramatic thaw in Canadian-Russian relations. How would this affect Canada's Northern Strategy? Would this trigger Arctic security projects? This summer I also had the great privilege of joining the 2014 Franklin search team, as a member of the so called Victoria Strait Expedition. Along with most of the civilian members of the team, this put me on the Russian-fl agged and crewed Akademik Sergey Vavilov, also known as the One Ocean Voyager for this mission. A most interesting and unique vantage point from which to ponder my question! The Sergey Vavilov was actually built in Finland as an oceano- graphic research vessel for the former Soviet government. It is well fi tted out with acoustics equipment used to receive a variety of undersea signals. Canadian readers familiar with the DRDC research vessel CFAV Quest will be able to relate to the general characteristics of the Sergey Vavilov. More recently, the ship has been converted into a polar expedition cruise ship, with upgraded accommodation and hotel facilities for up to 92 passengers. The ship is no stranger to the Canadian Arctic, now chartered con- tinuously by the Canadian polar cruise company One Ocean of Squamish, B.C. The participation of the Sergey Vavilov and its Russian captain and crew on this expedition no doubt caused a lot of concern and distrust in the minds of Canadian government offi cials. So why then was it used and what did the government do to ap- pease its concerns? The answer to the fi rst question is that this ship was ideal for the expedition needs while there was no Ca- nadian alternative available. It is capable of operating in ice, it is extremely quiet with excellent station keeping ability, it has the capability and equipment needed to launch and recover sophis- ticated Canadian-built undersea search equipment, it has a highly experienced crew of Arctic navigators and watch keepers, and it had the accommodation space and facilities needed to house the expedition donors and staff. And perhaps most importantly, it was offered by Canadian industry to the government at no cost, en- abling the government to fend off criticism of spending too much money on an Arctic treasure hunt. Finally, the Canadian alterna- tive, the CFAV Quest, is out of service. Message control and security were the answers to the second question. News media were trained on Prime Minister Harper in Lancaster Sound, and kept far from the Sergey Vavilov. Where the Lee Carson is president of nORSTRaT Consulting and a senior associate at Hill+Knowlton Strategies specializing in arctic matters. He was a speaker at MaSS14. As a consultant specializing in the infrastructure needs of Canada's Northern Strategy, one of the fi rst questions I am frequently asked by prospective and current clients is about commitment and timing. "Is Canada's commitment to Arctic infrastructure development real, or is it just rhetoric? When will the money and the opportunities fl ow? What will trigger it?" THE GREAT GAME: "Coopetition" in the High North commitment to Arctic infrastructure development real, or is it just rhetoric? When will the money and the opportunities fl ow? What will trigger it?" T he reality is actually quite a bit ahead of the (southern) perception. Massive federal infrastructure projects in the North are already well underway and the money is fl owing. Consider, for example, the recently completed Deh Cho bridge over the Mackenzie River, the new Canadian High Arctic Training Centre in Resolute, the ongoing construc- tion of an all-weather road to the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk, the reconstruction of the airport at Iqaluit, the construction of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay, just to name a few.

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