Feature Interview: What Prime Minister’s northern tours tell us about Canada’s shifting Arctic priorities

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen, take a closer look at an iceberg in a Zodiac inflatable boat Sunday west of Pond Inlet on Eclipse Sound. Harper wrapped up his annual trip to Canada's North this week. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen, take a closer look at an iceberg in a Zodiac inflatable boat Sunday west of Pond Inlet on Eclipse Sound. Harper wrapped up his annual trip to Canada’s North this week. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Canada’s prime minster Stephen Harper wrapped up a six-day tour to the country’s Far North earlier this week.
Joël Plouffe
Joël Plouffe

Marked with announcements, photo opportunities and speeches lauding Canada’s Arctic stature and know-how, Harper’s summer trips to the Arctic have become somewhat of an annual tradition.

  • But how much of substance comes out of these trips?
  • How much is about building Canada’s ‘Arctic brand’ both at home and abroad?
  • What do these trips tell us about the government’s shifting Arctic priorities?

 

To find out more, Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn spoke with Arctic expert Joël Plouffe, a research fellow at the Center for Interuniversity Research on the International Relations of Canada and Québec at the National School of Public Administration in Montreal:

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s Arctic Council leadership gets mixed reviews, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Ex-President Ahtisaari calls on Finland to join NATO with Sweden, Yle News

Greenland:  Greenland urged to work with Arctic Council, CBC News

Iceland:  Many questions, but few answers as Arctic conference gets underway in Iceland, Alaska Dispatch

Norway:   Permanent Arctic Council Secretariat opens in Tromso, strengthening Norway’s position in Arctic, Blog by Mia Bennett

Sweden: Feature Interview: Sweden wraps up Arctic Council, Radio Sweden

Russia:  Blog – Russia puts countries on edge in the Arctic, Cryopolitics

United States: New U.S. Arctic emissary gets plenty of ideas from Alaskans for Arctic Council priorities, Alaska Dispatch

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Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is a journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic circumpolar news project. At Eye on the Arctic, Eilís has produced documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the circumpolar world. Her documentary Bridging the Divide was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards. Eilís began reporting on the North in 2001. Her work as a reporter in Canada and the United States, and as TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China" has taken her to some of the world’s coldest regions including the Tibetan mountains, Greenland and Alaska; along with the Arctic regions of Canada, Russia, Norway and Iceland.

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