Environment Minister Catherine McKenna needs to engage personally
This illustration, from the website of the Canadian Space Agency, shows the kind of weather forecasting that the Polar Communication and Weather mission project could have provided through two new satellites that would orbit the earth around the circumpolar north. But now that Environment Canada has withdrawn from the project, it seems likely that the new satellites will be used for military purposes only, and with no guaranteed bandwidth for northern telecommunication customers. (CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY IMAGE)
Michael Byers, Special to Nunatsiaq News, 18 July 2016
On Oct. 6, 2011, the Arctic was cut off from the rest of Canada for 16 hours.
A software glitch on a satellite caused 56 communities to lose internet and long-distance telephone service. Businesses and government offices shut down; dozens of flights were cancelled.
The outage was not a surprise. Arctic communications are currently provided from satellites in geostationary orbit, directly above the equator — at the limits, and sometimes beyond, the required direct line of sight. Connectivity is slow, expensive and unreliable.
The Harper government responded to the outage by supporting a bold and visionary plan that the Canadian Space Agency, Environment Canada and Department of National Defence had jointly developed.
A Soviet-era SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile is set to crash in Canada’s Arctic, with some highly toxic fuel on board.
Michael Byers, National Post, 19 May 2016
The missile, modified to boost a satellite into orbit, will be launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia in early June. Minutes later, the first stage of the missile will plummet into the Barents Sea north of Norway. Shortly thereafter, the second stage of the missile will fall into Baffin Bay, just east of Canada’s Ellesmere Island.
That second stage could have hundreds of litres of leftover fuel on board. Rockets used for satellite launches rarely consume all their fuel because they are shut down by onboard computers once the desired speed and altitude are achieved.
The fuel used to power SS-19s is unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (hydrazine). A stable compound used to fuel missiles and power the thrusters used for manoeuvring satellites in space, hydrazine is so toxic that technicians wear pressurized hazmat suits when working with it. On contact with air, hydrazine degrades into another, even more toxic compound: nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
“I need to use the drones … to go on long patrols and be our eyes in the sky in the Arctic.”
So said the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lieutenant General Yvan Blondin, in testimony before the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.
Blondin went on to explain that he wanted a drone “that is flexible, that … when we go to Afghanistan, allows me [to] carry some weapons on it.”
Now here’s the thing. That latter statement, about the desire for drones that can carry weapons, was much more forthright than the asserted need for Arctic drones. Canada, in fact, already has reliable Arctic surveillance capabilities in place.
Canada’s radar leader has scored a coveted space deal with Ottawa.
MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. has landed a $706-million contract with the Canadian Space Agency, bolstering the satellite technology developer’s key Radarsat Constellation project, which is being touted as crucial for defending Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.
The federal government has paused a four-year pilot project to test
High Arctic surveillance technology at the entrance to the Northwest
Passage, CBC News has learned.
As part of the Northern Watch program, scientists from Defence
Research and Development Canada began installing underwater listening
devices and land-based sensors on Devon Island in the summer of 2008.
If successful, the tested technology would help Canada detect ships
and submarines passing through the eastern entrance to the Northwest
Contacted by CBC News, a National Defence spokesperson would only
say the Northern Watch program is taking a hiatus this summer as
researchers want to evaluate data the devices have collected already.
They will then decide what to do with the program, the spokesperson added.
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than two trillion tons of land
ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted since 2003,
according to new NASA satellite data that show the latest signs of what
scientists say is global warming.
Andrew Mayeda & Randy Boswell, Ottawa Citizen, August 16, 2008, A14
'Use it or lose it."
the day that Stephen Harper uttered the expression that is now
synonymous with his approach to the Arctic, Dec. 22, 2005, the federal
election had yet to seriously capture the attention of voters, and it
was far from clear that Mr. Harper would defeat Paul Martin to become
Canada's next prime minister.
in front of a giant map of Canada at a hotel in Winnipeg, Mr. Harper
announced an ambitious plan to bulk up the country's military presence
in the Arctic, including the purchase of three new armed icebreakers.
The plan was expensive, but it would send a clear message to the world
that Canada intended to protect its Arctic sovereignty.
don't defend national sovereignty with flags, cheap election rhetoric
and advertising campaigns," Mr. Harper said then. "You need forces on
the ground, ships in the sea and proper surveillance."
How losing a Canadian satellite to the US would be like losing our eyes on the North
Michael Byers, The Walrus Magazine, June 2008
Stephen Harper boldly claims to be
“passionately committed to protecting and defending” the North. “Canada
has a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty over the
Arctic. We either use it or lose it,” he says. “Make no mistake; this
government intends to use it.”
The prime minister certainly talks the talk. He’s challenged US
Ambassador David Wilkins over the status of the Northwest Passage, and
promised a deepwater port, a cold weather training centre, and up to
eight ice-strengthened patrol vessels for the Canadian Forces. He’s
even promised a $720-million icebreaker for the Canadian coast guard.
Just the same, it’s easy to publicly berate a foreign emissary for
electoral purposes; the port and buildings for the training centre
already exist, and the shipbuilding contracts are not yet signed.
Perhaps a clearer indication of Harper’s commitment to Arctic
sovereignty lies in the government’s dealings with MacDonald, Dettwiler
and Associates Ltd. of Richmond, BC. ...