Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 347

347         Arctic Yearbook 2014 society’s ills is undesirable because the state lacks sufficient economic incentive to efficiently allocate resources (Gideon, 1996). Consequently, the policies advocated by neo-liberal politicians frequently result in cutbacks in public sector funding and support for many public good programs with the expectation that these voids in governance will be filled by other sectors of society. In 2012, however, Canada severely tested the underlying neo-liberal rhetoric and justification for these environmental budget cuts by also attacking the funders of environmental NGOs. Recognizing that the front-line NGO activism opposing the Enbridge pipeline had received financial support, in part, through grants made by U.S.-based foundations, the Harper government attempted to reframe support for environmental conservation as an issue of national allegiance and foreign interference. As a changing climate grants greater access to the Northwest Passage and to Canada’s Arctic marine resources, the precedent this has set must be one of extreme insecurity for Canada’s sparsely populated northern territories with no inherent jurisdiction with which to oppose federal power. International access to the Northwest Passage has long been viewed as an encroachment on Canadian national sovereignty. Thus, any challenge to federal actions or plans for this region has great potential to become part of this larger geo-political discourse. Given this context, leveraging international support to mitigate the local impacts of federal policies may be exceedingly difficult for some Canadian Arctic communities. In Nunavut, less than 35,000 people – the vast majority of whom are Inuit – occupy more than 725,000 square miles. Nunavut is also home to some of the most biologically productive Arctic marine regions in the world. Lancaster Sound, for example, sits just east of both the Northwest Passage and the 3,400 square kilometers of offshore oil and gas leases now held by Shell Oil (AANDC 2013). Once proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the area’s dense feeding aggregations of bowhead whales, narwhals, polar bears, seals and seabirds, Lancaster Sound now serves as an uncertain regulatory hot spot in the Canadian Arctic’s ongoing contest between natural resource conservation and non-renewable resource extraction (Byers 2013). Since 1987, much effort has gone into the attempt to designate Lancaster Sound a National Marine Conservation Area. In 2010, Ottawa outraged advocates of this effort by contracting with a German ship to complete seismic testing in the area as part of the conservation area feasibility study. An injunction, sought by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA), halted the seismic surveys and the QIA’s conservation area planning projects continued – a number of which were funded by remarkably un-Canadian sources (Nunatsiaq News 2012). Surprisingly, Prince Albert of Monaco has not yet been condemned by the Canadian federal government for funding efforts to incorporate Inuit traditional knowledge and co-management models into Lancaster Sound’s conservation efforts or for helping to fulfill the aspirations of Canada’s integrated ocean management strategy. Lancaster Sound is one of twelve sites that has been systematically advanced over the past two decades to fulfill the many domestic and international commitments Canada has made to establish a system of marine protected areas (MPAs). The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), Canada’s Oceans Act (1996), Canada’s Oceans Strategy (2002), Canada’s Oceans Action Plan (2005), Canada’s Health of the Oceans funding (2007), and the 2010 CBD Conference of the Parties have all upheld Canada’s promise to move forward with the protection of marine natural regions The New Insecurities of Canadian Integrated Ocean Management