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Battle for the Arctic

I recently wrote about countries scrambling for control of the Arctic. Here's the beginning of my column:

TORONTO — For Canadians, the Arctic has long been a place of imagination. It’s where Inuit shamans fly and explorers disappear without a trace. Vast and forbidding, it has helped imprint in the national psyche an almost debilitating sense of isolation.

Canada’s sovereignty over its portion of this mythical place is now being challenged, most notably by the United States and Russia. It’s part of a bigger rush for the Arctic, the setting for what the conservative Heritage Foundation recently predicted will be a new Cold War.

In short, the scramble for diminishing energy resources has reached one of the most sensitive ecosystems on Earth.

The most dramatic example occurred Feb. 18, the day before U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Canada, when two Russia bomber planes provocatively flew to the edge of Canada’s northern airspace. F-18 fighter planes were scrambled to intercept them. Canadian pilots sent the Russians “a strong signal that they should back off,” according to Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay. 

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