The Emerging Economy of the North American Arctic


This brief makes the argument that the most effective way for Canada to protect and strengthen its Arctic sovereignty is to turn attention to the critical need for infrastructure investment in the Canadian North.1 Rather than having a conversation about whether or not Russian battleships and submarines are making their way to Canada’s North, the geopolitical conversation about Canada’s Arctic sovereignty should be about building a strategy that lays out a long term vision not only for the North in and of itself – but as part of a grander vision of the future role of Canada in global politics and economics and what the North has to offer in that respect.

This brief presents the argument as following: It begins by laying out the current state and consequences of the Infrastructure Gap in Northern Canada. It then turns to investments and developments being made by other Arctic countries with respect to their own Northern regions. The following section looks specifically at the state of private investment in the Canadian North, which is then compared to several non-Arctic countries’ existing and planned investments in the region. Taking these factors together, this brief then makes the case that a comprehensive Infrastructure Investment Analysis for the North American Arctic is imperative. Such an Analysis would actively encourage Canadian investors to find ways to put their capital in the Canadian North. At the same time, it would set out the terms for foreign direct investment in the Canadian North and by doing so would reaffirm to the global community that Canada is a Northern nation and takes its North seriously. Lastly, this brief looks at the current focus of the Canadian Federal Government on the Northern Infrastructure gap in a global context to point to the existing foundations for the Federal Government to build this discussion upon.