By The Canadian Press - Saturday, February 16, 2013 - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – It’s time to rethink the blimp, a House of Commons committee suggests…
OTTAWA – It’s time to rethink the blimp, a House of Commons committee suggests in a new report.
Airships are often associated with the Hindenberg crash of the 1930s, and their development was overtaken by that of the airplane, reducing their use in recent years mostly to props in ad campaigns.
But there’s room for certain kinds of them to play a new role in Canada, especially when it comes to reaching remote communities in the North, the transportation committee recommended in a recently released report.
“Hybrid air vehicles may one day provide a superior solution, as they can travel over snowfall, frozen water or impenetrable terrain, and require no roads or rail installations to operate,” says the report.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 5:35 AM - 0 Comments
“The North’s time has come,” Stephen Harper told a crowd of about 300 Conservative supporters at a rally Monday night.
WHITEHORSE—As the classic Canadian poem says, the Yukon is where people moil for gold.
And today Stephen Harper is off to see what a more modern day version of that work looks like.
On his first full day in the North, Harper was to tour Captstone’s copper gold Minto mine, about 240 kilometres north of Whitehorse.
His visit comes after a speech to party faithful last night in the territorial capital where he extolled the development of the North’s resources as the “great national dream.”
The speech reiterated the priority the Conservatives say they’ve placed on the North since being elected in 2006.
“The North’s time has come,” Harper told a crowd of about 300 Conservative supporters at a rally Monday night.
“I tell people starting to see the activity here, you ain’t seen nothing yet in terms of what’s coming in the next decade.”
Natural resources development has also become a renewed focus of the Harper government as countries the world express eagerness to receive a greater share.
The Conservatives have set about redrawing the process for approving natural resources projects, changing regulatory requirements, including environmental assessments to what they say will just help speed the projects up.
The government says there are currently 24 projects in the North representing $38 billion in potential new investment.
Changing the environmental assessment process to require fewer reviews and limiting their scope was one of the more contentious elements of the Conservatives’ recently-passed budget. Others included changes being made to old age security and transfer payments for health care.
“Not every one of these measures is easy or is popular with everybody,” Harper said in a stump-style speech in a riding captured by the Tories in the 2011 federal election.
“But the reason we do them is they are all in the long-term best interests of this country.”
Opposition critics say that’s not the case and that local voices are being left out of the discussion of what measures are in fact in the best interests of Canada when it comes to the development of resources.
“Northerners deserve more than an annual photo op from their prime minister and hollow announcements that never materialize,” said Liberal Aboriginal Affairs Critic Carolyn Bennett in a statement.,
“It is time that the federal government listen to their concerns and serve as a true partner in addressing the serious challenges and opportunities in Canada’s North.”
By The Canadian Press - Monday, August 20, 2012 at 6:26 AM - 0 Comments
PM Harper leaves today for a five-day trip that begins with a rally near Whitehorse and ends Friday in Churchill, Man.
OTTAWA — Each of the last six summers, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has journeyed to the North, sprinkling throughout its remote communities promises of federal funding and development.
This year will be no different: Harper leaves today for a five-day trip that begins with a rally near Whitehorse and ends Friday in Churchill, Man.
Harper appears to have the Midas touch about him on these annual visits.
The projects and people he encounters, albeit rarely beyond the bounds of a carefully choreographed photo-op, get money and encouragement.
In return, his government gets to bask in days of positive news coverage, backed by some of the most beautiful images of the country.
But it seems that what Harper tries to turn to gold in his visits up North doesn’t always stay that way.
Many projects he has announced for the region in recent years are behind schedule and some places he stops later find themselves falling on hard times.
Last year, Harper visited the Kluane National Park, home of Mount Logan, Canada’s highest mountain. There, he announced a new visitor’s centre and extolled the region’s “lush valleys, immense ice fields (and) spectacular mountains.”
But a research station located just outside its gates has since had its federal funding cut, and the last federal budget will also see the national park’s services cut as well.
In 2010, Harper pronounced Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, as the home of the new Canadian High Arctic research station. The station had first been announced in the 2007 federal budget.
“Investments in Arctic science strengthen Canada’s sovereignty, foster a more sustainable environment and contribute to a growing economy,” Harper said at the time.
Construction on the new station is behind schedule and while there was a commitment in the 2012 budget to continue supporting it, a formal dollar figure has yet to be announced.
Meanwhile, in addition to the closure of the Kluane facility, Canada’s northernmost research lab was also focused to shut its doors.
The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory was used by scientists from around the world but was unable to secure enough money from both the federal government and other sources to keep operating.
Promises made to beef up Canada’s military muscle are equally behind schedule.
On the same trip in 2010, Harper championed a major new satellite project, the Radarstat Constellation Mission. The production phase was due to begin this month, but the status of the project is unclear.
In 2007, on one of his first trips to the North, Harper announced the construction of a deep water naval port in Nanisivik.
Construction was supposed to begin in 2010. That’s now been pushed back to next year, if not longer.
His chief spokesman acknowledges the various setbacks, but says it’s the reality of life in the Arctic.
“The North hadn’t been paid much attention to for awhile,” said Andrew MacDougall.
“These initiatives are all important, they are all worth doing but they are hard to do and as long as this prime minister is the prime minister the focus for the government will be the North and on completing these projects.”
It’s irrelevant whether they are doing more than previous governments, said Dennis Bevington, the New Democrat’s Northern critic and the MP for Western Arctic.
What matters is actually delivering on what they say they’re doing, he said.
“Who else is a federal government in this country?,” said Bevington.
“How can they compare themselves to any other delivery process?”
This year’s tour will take Harper back to past haunts. He’ll make another effort to visit Cambridge Bay; his planned visit there two years ago was cancelled because of bad weather.
He’ll also return to Churchill, Man., and there will observe part of the military’s annual Operation Nanook exercise.
Stops are also planned for the Minto mine, a gold and copper concern, as well as Norman Wells, N.W.T, a gas and oil exploration hub.
There, residents have been hoping for a new all-season road that would help them get their products more rapidly to market as part of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline project.
This year’s Arctic tour will be a combination of making new commitments and following-through on old ones, said MacDougall.
“Part of the purpose of this exercise every year is to demonstrate progress and to update you on where we are on certain projects and progress on them,” he said.
“The Arctic is a vitally important region to the country and is assuming even more global significance.”
Next year, Canada assumes leadership of the Arctic Council, a international body of Arctic states including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States.
Among the key issues on the table is whether to allow other countries like China to have more of a stake in Arctic affairs.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 1:43 PM - 10 Comments
David Akin, National Post, August 18. But the day wasn’t without a snag. A release from the PMO spelled the Nunavut capital as Iqualuit — rather than the proper Iqaluit. The extra ‘u’ makes an Inuktitut word that translates roughly, according to media reports, to “people with unwiped bums.” The typo was later corrected.
Rudyard Griffiths, National Post, September 8. Having recently returned from two weeks on Baffin Island I am struck by the profound disconnect between this summer’s Arctic chest-thumping by our professional political class and the realities of life in the far North. For starters you can’t visit a town such as Iqualuit (population 7,000) and not question the sustainability of large-scale human settlement along the Arctic Circle.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 24, 2009 at 1:44 AM - 57 Comments
The Nunatsiaq News calls it “the most expensive photo op you’ll ever see.”
Torch blogger Mark Collins laments the “jingoistic nonsense” of it all.
And then there is what our own Andrew Coyne wrote. A year ago.
In fact, Canada’s Arctic sovereignty is getting along just fine, thank you. For all the emphasis the Conservatives have placed on it — “use it or lose it,” in Harper’s famous formulation — and for all the reams of hyperventilating, the-Russians-are-coming reportage it has received in the media, no one is actually threatening to invade Canada’s frozen North. Neither is there much dispute over Canada’s territorial waters — the ribbon of sea along our coast, 200 nautical miles wide, that international law acknowledges as ours. Even the much bolder claim we have lately advanced to the waters beyond the 200-mile limit, reaching as far as the North Pole, is for the most part uncontested…
It can’t hurt our case, and may help, if we bolster our physical presence in the North. Certainly we should hope that the Arctic spoils are divided by something resembling a legal process, rather than by military force or international free-for-all. And there are good reasons — environmental, security — why it would be in everybody’s interest for Canada to continue to police the passage. But on its merits, the question of Arctic sovereignty would not seem to warrant anything like the attention it has received from this government.
It does, however, serve an important political objective — namely, as part of the Conservatives’ efforts to rebrand themselves as the Canada Party, or perhaps to redefine Canada itself: to devise an alternative language and symbology of patriotism to the one so successfully exploited over the years by the Liberals.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 1:00 PM - 66 Comments
Alison Crawford reflects on the exquisite precision of a Stephen Harper photo op.
The Coast Guard’s Pierre Radisson ship and the submarine HMCS Cornerbrook lined up one one side of the frigate HMCS Toronto. On the deck of Toronto, was a gaggle of reporters, cameras at the ready.
Then, Defence Minister Peter MacKay sauntered onto the deck with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. They stopped to make idle chit chat until urged by handlers to move forward a few metres in order to have them perfectly positioned with the other two vessels in the background.
But wait! There’s more! Three CF-18 jets flew past in formation. But the fly-by was a little to fast for some camera operators and photographers to catch the entire montage of sub, jets and coast guard, so the CF-18s passed over four more times.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 11:14 AM - 46 Comments
Having sampled seal, the Prime Minister will now eat only that. And is forcing his eating habits on others.
Harper arrived in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Monday night with a planeload of the cabinet ministers that sit on cabinet’s Priorities and Planning Committee. P&P held a meeting in Iqaluit Tuesday. At lunch, at Harper’s request, cabinet was served a menu of boiled and raw seal livers and ribs.
On Wednesday, as he bantered with reporters aboard the HMCS Toronto while sailing on Frobisher Bay, Harper noted that even Transport Minister John Baird, a vegetarian, tried some seal meat at lunch. ”I’m tired of John’s vegetaranism,” Harper joked.
But lunch on Tuesday did not, apparently, quench Harper’s appetite for seal. For dinner Wednesday, Harper requested seal steaks and encouraged his staff to try a bit. We have been told that journalists travelling with the prime minister this week — I’m one of them — will see seal in some form or another on the menu Thursday.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 2:30 PM - 49 Comments
As our forefathers foretold, the North shall be controlled by he who stages the manliest of photo opportunities.
So shall it be Mr. Putin without his top?
(More of the Prime Minister on Arctic parade is available here.)
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 5:50 PM - 29 Comments
Perhaps to stifle today’s fevered speculation, the Prime Minister’s Office has released the official portrait of Stephen Harper and various cabinet ministers eating what they claim to be seal meat. But, wait, Vic Toews, Peter MacKay, Lawrence Cannon and Lisa Raitt don’t appear to be joining in the feast. Scandal!
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 12:17 PM - 53 Comments
The Prime Minister’s team learns that spelling is hard. And important.
An unfortunate blunder by the Prime Minister’s Office has residents of Nunavut alternately chuckling and cringing. A news release sent out Monday outlined Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s itinerary as he began a five-day tour of the North.
The release repeatedly spelled the capital of Nunavut as Iqualuit — rather than Iqaluit. The extra “u” makes a world of difference in the Inuktitut language.
Iqaluit, properly spelled, means “many fish.” Spelled with an extra “u,” the Nunavut language commissioner’s office says the word translates as a derogatory reference to “people with unwiped bums.”
The Prime Minister’s Office calls to say they’ve corrected the mistake on the PM’s website and note that various media outlets have published the same error—including, well, this one. “So hopefully our collective typos … will help better inform all of us to not make the same mistake twice,” says Dimitri Soudas, Mr. Harper’s press secretary.