Arctic Council meeting begins in Canada’s Northwest Territories

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Environment Minister and Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq is Canada's minister for the Arctic Council and is serving as chair of the council during Canada's two-year chairmanship. The Arctic Council's meeting in Yellowknife begins Tuesday. (The Canadian Press)
Environment Minister and Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq is Canada’s minister for the Arctic Council and is serving as chair of the council during Canada’s two-year chairmanship. The Arctic Council’s meeting in Yellowknife begins Tuesday. (The Canadian Press)
The Arctic Council is meeting in Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories,  this week to decide the issues the international body will work on, and many are curious to see if Russia’s attempt to seize Crimea in the Ukraine will affect the meeting.

Members of the Group of Eight nations have suspended themselves from that body, leaving Russia the lone G8 member, but it remains a member of the Arctic Council, alongside Canada, the United States, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Rob Huebert, a professor at the University of Calgary who specializes in circumpolar relations, says tensions could rise if Finland and Sweden join NATO.

“If that happens, you’re going to have a sense that Russia is going to say it is being encircled by the other Arctic nations and I have no question if that was to happen, you would see the ability to function within the Arctic Council severely damaged.”

Hubert says unless that happens, he doesn’t see the meeting being affected by what is happening in Crimea. He says the Arctic Council prides itself on being able to represent international co-operation at its best.

However, Greenpeace is expected to stage a protest outside the meeting against what it calls “the pro-oil agenda” of the council.

The meetings are scheduled to run March 25-27.

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