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As ice melts, debate over Northwest Passage heats
Description: TORONTO — Melting ice is opening up the Northwest Passage and reviving a dispute between the United States and Canada over who controls the potentially lucrative shipping route...
Date: 03 April 2006
Author: Rebecca Dube
Source: USA Today
TORONTO — Melting ice is opening up the Northwest Passage and reviving a dispute between the United States and Canada over who controls the potentially lucrative shipping route.



The United States calls the passage an international strait, open to all. Canada claims control because it considers the passage an internal waterway, like the Mississippi River...



For Canada, the Northwest Passage is a symbol of national sovereignty, which Canadians guard fiercely. The Canadian national anthem boasts of the "True North, strong and free."



"Some issues go beyond rationality," says Rob Huebert, associate director of the University of Calgary's Center for Military and Strategic Studies. "Any sign of an affront to northern sovereignty is absolutely guaranteed to get on the front page of all the newspapers."



That's what happened in January, when David Wilkins, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, casually mentioned the two nations' "agree to disagree" policy on the Northwest Passage. "We don't recognize Canada's claims to the waters," Wilkins said at a University of Western Ontario forum on Jan. 25.


Michael Byers, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, says the agree-to-disagree policy "has become unsustainable because the ice conditions are changing so dramatically..."



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