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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Fisheries and Oceans

Issue 4 - Evidence - March 6, 2008

OTTAWA, Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day at 10:59 a.m. to examine and report upon issues relating to the federal government's current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans.

Senator Bill Rompkey (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: For those who may in the future watch these proceedings on television, this is the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. At the moment, we are doing a study of the Arctic and, more specifically, of the Canadian Coast Guard.

We have heard from a number of witnesses. Tentatively, we are making plans to travel to the Arctic — perhaps the first week in June if we can sort out the travel arrangements — so that we can hear from people there. In the meantime, we have been hearing from witnesses here in Ottawa.

Today, I am particularly pleased to have before the committee Professor Michael Byers. I had the pleasure of attending a mock negotiation some time ago between Canada and the U.S. with regard to Arctic security. It was one of the most interesting events that I have ever attended, and I hope we will hear something about that today.

Professor Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia. He is, I would say, the foremost Canadian international law expert, a project leader with ArcticNet and the author of Intent for a Nation: What is Canada For? He has travelled in the Arctic. He sailed through the Northwest Passage in October 2006. We are very pleased to have him with us today.

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources had indicated that they wanted to come to this meeting, and I expect some of them may show up. In the meantime, Senator Cochrane is here, who is also on the Energy Committee. The intent is for both of our committees to travel to the Arctic together so that we have a significant Senate presence there for a comprehensive study of the mandate for both committees.

Without further ado, I would welcome Professor Byers and ask him to make some comments, after which we will go to questions.

I might just say that I am having distributed to you now a column written by Mr. Byers that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen this morning. It is very timely and covers the material from the mock negotiations that he recently conducted.

Professor Byers, welcome.

Michael Byers, Professor, Canadian Research Chair in International Law and Politics, University of British Columbia: Senators, it is a great pleasure and honour to be here. As an academic, I appreciate the absolute importance of sober second thought. The Senate fulfills an essential role in our parliamentary democracy.


I should say that I speak French. I am going to speak in English today, but if anyone wishes to ask a question in French, I can certainly answer it.


I will take three or four minutes to sketch out some of my main concerns. The first is that Canada's Arctic waters are becoming much more accessible to shipping more quickly than anyone believed possible. When I sailed through the Northwest Passage in late October 2006 on the Canada's research icebreaker Amundsen, we saw almost no ice. In fact, in Bellot Strait, 750 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, one of the choke points of the Northwest Passage, on October 23, 2006, there was no ice.

Between that time and the fall of 2007, planet Earth lost an additional 1.2 million square kilometres of Arctic sea ice. The rate of loss is unprecedented. It exceeded the worst-case scenarios of all the Arctic sea ice experts.

I do not know what will happen in the years ahead — no one does. It is possible that there will be a return of the sea ice. However, there is also a significant possibility, a risk, that the rate of ice loss will continue and perhaps even accelerate. In my view, good public policy is based on risk analysis. If there is a 20 per cent chance that we will have an open Northwest Passage, the government needs to move quickly to guard against that risk and prepare for the eventualities. I think it is more significant than a 20 per cent risk; I think it is almost certain. It is very important to say that we cannot wait for certainty. The public policy that is needed cannot wait until the scientists can say with 100 per cent certainty that the Northwest Passage is open for shipping for most and perhaps all of the year. We need to look at the science and the trajectory of ice loss and get in front of that risk, and we need to do that now.

I say this because there is a tendency within the federal bureaucracy to play down the risk and to emphasize the possibility that ice may remain. I hope that the people who make that argument are right, but I worry, as an expert, that they are wrong.

The second point is that rapidly disappearing sea ice is undermining a satisfactory status quo in our relations with other countries concerning Arctic shipping. As long as the thick, hard ice was there, our interests were protected and we could afford to disagree with other countries. On the only issue that arose during those heavy ice conditions, the issue of American icebreakers, Canada and the United States made a deal in 1988. The Arctic cooperation agreement, the so-called icebreaker agreement, was signed by Prime Minister Mulroney and President Regan to deal with the only issue that was a challenge during the heavy ice conditions that prevailed until quite recently. We solved the problem and were able to agree to disagree as long as the ice was there.

With the ice disappearing, that status quo, the ability to let the ice protect our interests, is no longer a viable long- term policy. We need to develop a new form of engagement and new means of cooperation if we are to sustain our legal position and, more important, to guard against the risks and challenges that more shipping will bring. These risks are manifold. They include environmental risks — imagine an Exxon Valdez in Lancaster Sound. They include the impact on indigenous peoples — imagine the impact icebreakers breaking through the ice near Igloolik might have on the traditional hunting way of life of the Inuit in Foxe Basin.

There are also security concerns. In my view, the risks are relatively small but still real. They involve illegal immigration and drug smuggling and the risk, albeit small, of trafficking in weapons of mass destruction through this new international waterway. Those security interests are of particular concern to our American friends. My concern, and I think that of many Canadians, focuses on the environmental dimension and the indigenous people's dimension, but our American friends are most concerned about the security dimension. It is fine if they have different concerns, as long as our concerns lead to similar goals. If that is the case, the difference in focus is not so important.

As Senator Rompkey indicated, Paul Cellucci, former U.S. Ambassador to Canada, and I cooperated in a model negotiation — a completely unofficial and in no way binding or definitive exercise — simply in the hope that we could demonstrate that teams of experts from Canada and the United States could constructively discuss opportunities for cooperation concerning Arctic shipping, even if it was not possible in the short term to actually resolve the underlying legal dispute over the status of the Northwest Passage. I am pleased with the results. You have read our agreed recommendations, or at least they are available to you. The article that I authored in the Ottawa Citizen was an attempt to make those recommendations more accessible to people who were not in attendance that day.

There are things we can do with the United States that can build confidence in the United States as to Canada's willingness and ability to deal with the challenges in the Northwest Passage in a time of rapidly changing ice conditions. By building confidence, over time we can bring the United States around to recognizing and accepting Canada's legal position.

Finally, there is an issue of pressing concern that requires decision-making in the next few months that is of central importance with regard to sovereignty and environmental protection in Arctic waters, and it includes the broader mandate of this committee. I am speaking about the requirement of the Canadian government to make a decision on the sale of RADARSAT-2. This fabulous remote sensing satellite was built in a public-private partnership between the Government of Canada and a Canadian company — MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates — and launched in December 2007. It was built, first and foremost, to enable the mapping of sea ice and the tracking of ocean-going vessels, not only in the Arctic but also on the East and West Coasts. It is fabulous technology.

MDA has recently decided to sell this satellite to Alliant Techsystems of Minnesota, a very large U.S. military contractor. The concern is to what degree Canada will retain priority access, sometimes referred to as shutter control — that is, the ability to commandeer this satellite in support of Canadian priorities, especially those relating to national security. One might imagine this including the possibility of a foreign vessel entering Canada's Arctic waters and our government wanting to know what it is doing there. This satellite was built to give us that capacity. Will we retain that priority access, that shutter control, once the satellite is sold to a foreign company or will we lose that control? Will the licensing authority become the U.S. government and will this satellite essentially be lost for these urgent moments when it is needed most?

No one can give me the answer to that question. No one can tell me whether we will retain priority access, whether we will continue to have shutter control.

There are two government ministers who need to make decisions here. One is the Minister of Industry, Mr. Prentice, under the Investment Canada Act; and the other is Mr. Bernier as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who, under the 2005 Remote Sensing Space Systems Act, is the minister who must decide whether to allow a sale to proceed in terms of its possible impact on national security and the defence of Canada.

There are two ministers — not just the Investment Canada Act test, but also this much higher test that rests with Mr. Bernier. I would urge that this committee, in the course of its work, take time in the very near future to focus on this issue because these two ministers will need to make these decisions within the next couple of months.

I personally think that RADARSAT-2 is as important to our sovereignty assertion capabilities and our control of foreign vessels in the Arctic and on the East Coast, in the St. Lawrence and elsewhere, as is the new $750 million polar icebreaker that the government has recently committed to build.

I would leave you with one question: Would we allow that icebreaker to be sold to a foreign company after it was built? I do not think so. The satellite is, in many respects, a very close analogy.

I look forward to your questions.

The Chair: Thank you very much. That was very interesting.


Senator Robichaud: Is RADARSAT-2 Canada's only means of seeing and of checking what is going on in the Arctic?


Mr. Byers: The predecessor of RADARSAT-2, appropriately called RADARSAT-1, remains in orbit. It has lasted beyond its expected lifespan and continues to produce imagery. I relied on this imagery in the Northwest Passage, but it is growing old and the technology is no longer cutting edge in the same way as RADARSAT-2.

The answer to your question is that we do have some capability. However, the equipment that the Canadian government decided to build a decade ago to replace RADARSAT-1, in which it invested $445 million of taxpayers' money and which was launched just three months ago, is now proposed to be sold to a foreign company. The question as to whether we will maintain priority access is extremely important here.

Let me put a worst-case scenario to you: We have reason to think that an American vessel is approaching the Northwest Passage without our consent. If the United States is the licensing authority, are we certain that they will give us access to imagery of that U.S. vessel?

A less worst-case scenario involves us suspecting that there might be a single-hulled, Liberian-flagged oil tanker approaching Canadian Arctic waters. We want to get imagery immediately, but a war has broken out in the Middle East and there is overwhelming demand for imagery directed toward that situation. The United States is pushing Alliant Techsystems to devote all of the satellite's capability to that other issue. Could we get in there with priority access and say we need images of Lancaster Sound?

As you can see from my cooperation with Mr. Celucci, I am prepared to cooperate with the United States. However, as a country, we cannot assume that we will have all the access we need, when we need it, in a situation where we lose the legal control over this equipment.

Senator Cochrane: Would you go back and tell me a little bit about this radar satellite from the beginning?

Mr. Byers: RADARSAT-2 is a remote sensing satellite, a microwave satellite, that has the capacity to take images, at night and through clouds, with a resolution of three metres. It can measure the thickness of the ice and the character of the ice. It measures density, as I understand it.

I am told it even has some capacity to track ocean currents and possibly even vessels that are just under the surface of the water. This would be of extreme interest in the Northwest Passage, given the reputed transits of foreign submarines.

It is also extremely useful in terms of agricultural forecasting, the monitoring of crops and forests. It is very useful in disaster scenarios; a tsunami, for instance, is a situation where RADARSAT-2, in terms of the response to a natural disaster, is extremely helpful. Given our geography and the fact that things happen in this vast space that we call our own, it was for these kinds of peaceful purposes that Canada, the second largest country on earth, decided it needed this technology.

RADARSAT-2 is also a technology that is very useful for military applications. You can well imagine what might be done with its capacity to take images at night through clouds.

RADARSAT-1, the predecessor, was built, owned and still is owned by the Canadian Space Agency, a Canadian government agency. However, the Chrétien government decided in the 1990s to try a new approach for RADARSAT- 2, a public-private partnership whereby it purchased in advance $445 million worth of imagery. It was not a subsidy; it was an arrangement to prepay for access to the satellite.

MacDonald Dettwiler put in a smaller amount of its own money and built this satellite, which was finally launched in December 2007 after very many hurdles were overcome, including some resistance from the United States, which was concerned about such a high-quality set of images being available on the private market.

The satellite went up and, quite literally, within weeks of the launch the sale to Alliant Techsystems was announced. That is more than a coincidence. Obviously, the satellite is worth far more money once it is in orbit because the risk element is in the launch.

I have heard some numbers to the effect that the sale price will be in excess of $1 billion. That is fine in terms of MacDonald Dettwiler, and in other circumstances it would not be a problem. However, this is a public good that has been produced for Canadians with the expenditure of Canadian taxpayer money. In the legislation that was adopted in 2005 specifically with a view to RADARSAT-2, we provided ourselves with the capacity to override such a sale through this provision. Section 16 of the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act enables the Minister of Foreign Affairs to block any transfer of the licence.

I do know as well that MacDonald Dettwiler was very closely involved in the drafting of the legislation. They went into this with open eyes, realizing that the capacity to block such a sale was there. They cannot claim to have been wrongly treated in the event that Mr. Bernier or Mr. Prentice were to step in.

It is a sensitive issue, obviously. No government wants to interfere in the economy unnecessarily, particularly in Canada in terms of foreign investment, but this is an obvious scenario where something needs to be done.


Senator Robichaud: Mr. Byers, what makes you believe that the Canadian government is not going to try to keep this access or this property under Canadian authority?


Mr. Byers: Let me be clear. The government has not made a decision yet. I do not want to presume that they will decide in one way or in the other way. They are certainly aware of it.

I had the opportunity to speak with the House of Commons Industry Committee on this matter yesterday. They are holding hearings. Several members of the committee were minded to recommend that the Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade take up this issue.

There were journalists at the committee meeting yesterday. I think people are beginning to understand that this is no normal sale to a foreign company and that something more important is involved.

I draw the analogy very strongly to the government's decision to build a new polar icebreaker, a decision that I support. From time to time in this country we have made the decision to invest in infrastructure to assert our sovereignty and control shipping in Canada's North. At the moment, our new decision is a polar icebreaker. In the 1990s, our decision was RADARSAT-2. These are big, expensive decisions. However, it is a public good. It is essential for us to protect the 40 per cent of this country's coastline that is in the Arctic. We have the longest coastline of any country in the world, mostly in the Arctic.

I am hopeful that the current government, when it understands these implications and the analogy to its own decisions on the icebreaker, on the ice strength and patrol vessels for the navy, will realize that RADARSAT-2 is not like other satellites. RADARSAT-2 is a Canadian sovereignty assertion device that can do other things, when it is available to do other things, and can make a great deal of money for the Canadian company that took the risk of partnering with us to build this extremely high-tech machine.

I am very proud of RADARSAT-2. I am proud that MacDonald Dettwiler and the Canadian government agreed to build it. This is exactly what a great Arctic country like Canada would want to do. I am raising the alarm now because there is some risk that we will lose this instrument. We will lose this instrument only if people do not realize just how close a parallel there is between this satellite and that big red icebreaker that so many of us want to see.


Senator Robichaud: The sovereignty you speak of is in fact what we are presently examining. You made a link between RADARSAT-2 and a way of demonstrating Canadian sovereignty over all the territory that is disputed mainly by the United States, did you not?

Could you elaborate on that a little more? You say that we are going to have an icebreaker of a certain capability. If we have to lose our rights over RADARSAT, its effectiveness could be diminished.


Mr. Byers: I use the term ``sovereignty'' in part because people understand that sovereignty is important. It resonates with people in certain ways. When I am speaking of contested sovereignty in the Arctic, I am speaking about the status of the waters. The islands are all unquestionably ours with the tiny and insignificant exception of Hans Island, which exists only so that Canadian and Danish politicians can go there just before election campaigns. It serves no other purpose.

The waters are what concern me. The waters between our islands are also Canadian. The issue is whether or not foreign vessels have a right to go through there almost without restraint. The analogy I use is that of a country estate in England, where the local aristocrat owns the land but people have a right to walk across it by using a foot path that has been there since time immemorial. Lawyers would call it an easement. The U.S. argues that there is a right of passage, or easement, through our waters on the basis that this is, in international law terminology, an international strait. That dispute between the American position and our position — namely that the waters are internal waters like Lake Winnipeg or the Gulf of St. Lawrence — is one that we will have to resolve eventually. One way to do that is to work with the United States to build confidence and cooperation.

How does RADARSAT-2 affect this issue? An essential component of asserting control over foreign vessels is knowing where they are. The Arctic is a vast expanse, measured in thousands of kilometres. When I sailed from Kugluktuk to Iqaluit, it was the equivalent of sailing from Banff, Alberta, to Quebec City in terms of distance. It took us 11 days, travelling at 14 knots, 24 hours a day. We are talking, again, about the longest coastline of any country in the world. No matter how much money we invest in icebreakers and in ice-strength patrol vessels, we will have to make decisions as to where they are deployed at any given time. The capacity to have an eye in the sky to monitor the whole area will save us money, will make us more efficient and will also provide a deterrent in that foreign vessels will know that we are watching them.

We have already spent this money. That is the point. I am not talking about spending more money. This is not a pitch for new government funding. It is simply a pitch to the Canadian government to maintain our long-standing policy that we have, over the course of the last 10 years, invested in equipment to provide this eye in the sky in the Arctic. That policy is now being challenged by a Canadian company that sees the opportunity for a significant short- term profit, knowing that the Canadian government reserved the right to block such a sale. In this circumstance, I think we should seriously consider blocking the sale and not allow it to go forward until we have studied closely all of the implications.

Senator Robichaud: Does RADARSAT furnish any technology for Google Earth, where I can see who is parked in my yard on a certain date when a satellite went over?

Mr. Byers: I think Google Earth demonstrates to the ordinary, non-technological person like myself just how advanced the technology must be if this is in the public domain. Google Earth does not enable you to take images at night, through clouds. The Arctic is often cloud covered. There is often a great deal of fog over these waters.

On top of that, RADARSAT-2 enables you to map the ice, to measure the thickness of the ice, to see the currents, to see the wakes of vessels and to see vessels themselves.

This is made-in-Canada technology. RADARSAT-2 technology is cutting edge, and we built it. We designed this. It is ours. Who can blame the large American company, Alliant Techsystems, for wanting to have this? They know it will be extraordinarily profitable for them because it is so attractive on the market, especially for the large military purchasers.

One of the arguments being advanced for the sale is that as an American-owned company and as American-owned technology, RADARSAT-2 will have greater access to the high-level, classified activities and opportunities available from the Pentagon, a market that is less accessible to a Canadian company.

Senator Robichaud: The question is whether the Pentagon will allow us to receive that.

Mr. Byers: Yes. Let me also say that the Pentagon can buy RADARSAT-2 imagery already on the market. We do not stop them from buying the imagery. The question is whether we can commandeer the satellite for brief moments when we need it — essentially, whether we can jump the queue or the line. The imagery is commercially available. I do not know this for a fact, but I suspect that one of the largest purchasers of RADARSAT-2 imagery in the few months has probably been the U.S. government. I have no problem with that, as long as we have control.

Senator Robichaud: We have first access.

Mr. Byers: Yes.

Senator Cochrane: I know satellite technology has improved, and I will tell you how I know. In January, my husband got a GPS from my daughter for Christmas. It was amazing. We got in our car and had no idea where we were going. We programmed in the place we wanted to go, and about every 10 minutes the GPS would tell us to turn right, turn left, slow down, you are speeding. It was unbelievable. A satellite overhead was telling us what to do.

Night imagery is important, of course, especially if we are talking about sovereignty of the Arctic.

What percentage does MacDonald Dettwiler have and what percentage does the government have? They have a partnership, do they not?

Mr. Byers: With respect to night images, of course the Arctic is in total darkness for a number of months each year. This kind of night vision imagery is of special importance in a region that is subject to total darkness for a significant period of time.

I will give you a few numbers. This is from a book I published last year, so it does not have the most up-to-date numbers. The Chrétien government started by pre-purchasing $242 million of imagery. That was the Canadian government contribution. The company itself put up $80 million of its own funds. The initial ratio was 3 to 1 — three dollars of taxpayers' money for every dollar of private money.

At the time, the CEO of MacDonald Dettwiler, Daniel Friedman, predicted that RADARSAT-2 would generate $1 billion in revenue over its lifespan. That is for the company, not for the Canadian government. We were buying imagery; we were not investing for a financial return. An $80 million investment and a $1 billion return is a pretty good deal for MacDonald Dettwiler, although they were assuming something of a risk.

Through various delays, caused in large part by the U.S. government's concerns about the very good capacity of the satellite, costs escalated. In 2000, the Canadian government put in another $167 million, and the company at that point added $12 million of its own money. We were now at roughly a ratio of 12 or 13 to 1.

In 2001, the Canadian government added another $6 million and, as far as I know, the company added nothing. The numbers I had then suggested that Canada had contributed a grand total of 82 per cent of the total cost.

More money has subsequently been invested. I have been working with the total of $445 million for the last few months. That does not count other costs that we have incurred, one of them being that MacDonald Dettwiler hired a number of experts who were actually trained and initially employed by the Canadian Space Agency. If you start factoring in the other ways in which we have supported the development of expertise, the numbers would go much higher than $445 million.

Some people, particularly members of the current government, are a little wary about so much public money being put into an industry of this kind. My response is that there are some things that private industry will not do on its own. Private industry will not build and run Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers on its own. It will not run a navy on its own. It will not run remote-sensing satellites for sovereignty assertion purposes on its own. The public-private partnership was an imaginative way of trying to bring industry and government together to accomplish this goal, but one needs to understand that no matter how much one might favour a free market, some things do require government investment, and this kind of satellite, for these purposes, happens to be one of those.

Senator Cochrane: Do we have any proof of the good things this satellite has done?

Mr. Byers: Yes. You can go to the Canadian Space Agency website and find the section on RADARSAT-2. The CSA will tell you about all of the uses of RADARSAT-2. Prominent among those are ice-mapping. It is used for agricultural monitoring, forestry monitoring and disaster relief. We know its true effectiveness because we have been benefiting from RADARSAT-1. It was launched in 1995, so we have almost 13 years of experience with what a satellite of this kind can do.

RADARSAT-1 was not expected to last as long as it has, and it is not nearly as capable as RADARSAT-2. The predecessor satellite is still extraordinarily useful and tested. In terms of my own experience, I was able to stand on the bridge of the Amundsen with the ship's captain and actually look at images taken the day before of the waters we were to sail through in the next few days. We were able to see that either there was no ice or that the ice that was there was soft, thin, first-year ice. We were also able to see a little bit of multi-year ice jammed into a bay.

That older technology has done an awful lot of good. This is why RADARSAT-1 has also been such a financial success. Owned by the Canadian government, in 2004 it produced images that were sold to 600 customers around the world and generated $26 million in revenue for the Canadian government. This is the old satellite.

If RADARSAT-1 can still do that, imagine what RADARSAT-2 could do. It will make lots of money for MacDonald Dettwiler. If we block the sale, MacDonald Dettwiler will still make lots of money out of this satellite.

The two satellites use the same technology, but RADARSAT-2 is much more advanced. The other difference is that RADARSAT-1 is owned by the Canadian Space Agency. RADARSAT-2, the newer satellite, is owned by the Canadian company, MacDonald Dettwiler. The first one was a purely government initiative; the second one is a public-private partnership.

Senator Cochrane: There is no such thing as being able to update RADARSAT-1 so it will have the capacity of RADARSAT-2; is that right?

Mr. Byers: We would have to find a way to bring it down to Earth.

Senator Cochrane: That is impossible.

Mr. Byers: Yes. You put them up there and they last as long as they last.

There have been plans to continue this line of satellites; there has been a plan for RADARSAT-3. It is possible that MacDonald Dettwiler has analyzed the situation and concluded that Canadian government support for the next generation might be less likely than the support that was available for RADARSAT-2.

There are certainly people in this country who assume, incorrectly, that there is no role for government in supporting the Canadian Space Agency. I do not know what kind of deliberations went on within MacDonald Dettwiler, but if you want to develop this line of technology and serve these purposes, you have to be prepared to put some public money into the system.

For what it is worth, other countries do this as well. The United States invests heavily in satellites. Many of those satellites are entirely owned and operated by U.S. government agencies. There is no such thing as a space country that does not invest government money to make its industry thrive.

Senator Cochrane: Mr. Byers, I have one more question. Alan Kessel, a legal adviser for Foreign Affairs and International Trade — you seem to know this person by your smile — appeared before the committee recently and testified that Canada is sovereign over the whole country, including the Arctic. No one disputes Canada's sovereignty and control over the lands and the islands of the Arctic. The sole exception, I may add, is tiny Hans Island, which is also claimed by Denmark. That is what he said. Would you share your view with us?

Mr. Byers: I share the view that our sovereignty over the land is uncontested. I also share the view that our ownership over the waters within 12 miles of any of our land is uncontested as well. However, I suspect what Mr. Kessel got to later in his presentation was the fact that we do have a dispute over the status of the various straits and channels that pass between our Arctic islands and connect Baffin Bay to the Beaufort Sea.

The current policy of the Department of Foreign Affairs on this matter, as I understand it, is to simply not raise the issue — to preserve the status quo, to not draw attention to what is happening, and thus to gradually build acceptance of our position as time passes, and we continue to not be challenged outright in terms of our legal position. That, I should say, was the position during the 1980s, the 1990s and up until today.

It was an acceptable position when the ice was there to keep foreign ships away. However, we are seeing more transits of the passage each summer. In 2005, we had, I believe, seven; in 2006, we had eleven; and in 2007, we had twelve.

The real concern is when we get to the point where all of the Arctic sea ice disappears briefly at the end of a summer. As long as there is some surviving ice, you get what is called multi-year ice, which becomes hard like concrete as the sea salt leaches out of it. That ice that has survived at least one summer is the principal hazard to shipping.

Once we get a total melt-out, which some of the Arctic sea ice experts are thinking might occur within the next 10 years, that principal hazard is gone. You are left only with first-year ice, which is the same scenario that you have in the Gulf of St. Lawrence or the Great Lakes. At that point, you not only get ice-free summers, you also get winters where there is only first-year ice, which can be broken and transited by ice-strengthened vessels.

I am drawing your attention to the risk that instead of this fairly gentle trajectory — seven, eleven, twelve transits — at some point, these transits could leap quite dramatically once that multi-year ice disappears.

An ice-free Northwest Passage offers a route from Shanghai to New Jersey that is 7,000 kilometres shorter than the current route through the Panama Canal. Some of the traffic will go straight over the North Pole and not enter Canadian waters, but some of this traffic, from the West Coast to the East Coast of North America and from Asia to the East Coast of North America, will come through our waters. It will, at some point, involve hundreds if not thousands of vessels each year.

I do not know when. I do know that it could be much closer than anyone had thought. The position of the Department of Foreign Affairs to let sleeping dogs lie might have been absolutely fine five or ten years ago; but to my mind, it deserves questioning now.

I have taken it upon myself to be the devil's advocate to test this position because, among other things, good public policy depends upon friendly critics who can poke and prod and stimulate decision-makers into re-examining their assumptions. That is the role I have taken on here.

Some people would say that I am alarmist. I do make my very best effort to be objective in my analysis. However, I certainly also make an effort not to be stuck in old assumptions but to always challenge my own thinking. The results are those that you see.

Senator Watt: This is quite interesting subject matter that you have brought to our attention. Let me start from where you left off on the surveillance side. This satellite that you speak of is already in existence, if I understand correctly.

Mr. Byers: Yes.

Senator Watt: You are worried that for a quick gain, they might end up marketing it outside of Canada; is that what you are saying?

Mr. Byers: No, I am not concerned about marketing the imagery.

Senator Watt: I am not talking about imagery; I am talking about the satellite itself.

Mr. Byers: I am worried about the Canadian government losing its position as the licensing authority over the satellite.

Senator Watt: Related to sovereignty?

Mr. Byers: Being the licensee gives us what is called shutter control. It gives us the ability, when we deem it necessary, to tell the company what the satellite will be used for.

In most circumstances, we would not tell them anything; we would let them operate the satellite as they wished and we would get in the queue to get the images that we have paid for in advance. However, there are scenarios, such as a natural disaster or a possible infringement of our jurisdiction in northern waters, when we will want images right now, right here. In part, we paid the money to have that priority access, in addition to the normal imagery that we would use.

If the satellite is sold to a foreign company, it is unclear whether Canada will retain that authority. The Remote Sensing Space Systems Act of 2005 is all predicated on Canada being the licensing authority. All of our controls, including quite detailed provisions on the sending of inspectors to the ground stations, are premised on us being the licensing government.

I raise this concern about losing this licence for two reasons. First, in one very small provision, the act envisages that the licence or control might be transferred. That provision provides that any such transfer must be approved by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It sets out the test of national security and the defence of Canada. Someone anticipated, in the corner of his or her mind, that the kind of scenario we see today might actually arise and gave the government the legal capacity under the legislation to block any such sale.

Second, I have asked experts in the Department of Foreign Affairs what they think will happen to the licence and to our shutter control, but they cannot tell me. I have gone all the way to the minister's office and they have not been able to tell me. In fact, one person told me that they do not know. It is conceivable that we might come to an arrangement whereby we retain the licensing authority even though the satellite is owned by an American company, that we retain shutter control. I would like to explore that arrangement to see whether it addresses my concerns.

In the absence of specific knowledge of careful analysis of certainty that we are not giving up what we paid for, this sale should not proceed. When I can get straight answers to my questions about whether we will remain the licensing authority and retain shutter control and priority access — one that is backed up by some credible evidence — then I will stop pushing this issue.

Senator Watt: Why do you think they do not see that as an important tool that Canada requires in order to have an eye from the top down to the bottom? Why do you think that is the case? Is that because of the lax information in terms of how important this instrument could be?

Mr. Byers: Part of the explanation is that people who think about issues of Canadian foreign policy and Canadian sovereignty tend to think in fairly traditional ways. We think about big red icebreakers, Canadian Rangers and the planting of flags. A satellite is a bit more abstract and almost has a science fiction connotation to it, even though it is real. It is up there now and it is taking images today.

We must break out of our traditional assumptions as to what actually constitutes Canadian infrastructure for sovereignty assertion purposes. This is the 21st century way, or one of the ways in which you do what we have always done. It does require a shift. For people of my generation and older generations, this requires some conscious effort because we are trapped in our old frameworks.

Canadian public policy is broad and deep, and there are many different issues. It does happen from time to time that issues that are becoming important are not noticed as important for a while. Part of what has happened here is that no one had their particular eye on this ball and no one expected that MacDonald Dettwiler would announce this sale. In fact, the Canadian government issued celebratory press releases this past December about the launch of RADARSAT- 2, about how wonderful this was and about how this was our northern sovereignty assertion. The current government was very proud of the launch, so we did not anticipate that this sale happen. It caught us by surprise. The combination of the fact that this is not within the traditional framework of northern sovereignty and the proposed sale has happened unexpectedly and quickly are why some of you may not have heard anything close to this kind of detail until today.

However, we are now in that very short time frame where MacDonald Dettwiler has applied for permission for the sale to be authorized and two ministers need to make decisions. MacDonald Dettwiler is telling the market that it is hoping to get a decision by later this spring.

Senator Watt: Beyond your concerns, timing is an issue. You have made presentations to the House of Commons committees and you are now making a presentation here, raising the importance of having ownership of the eye that looks down over our country. It is Canadian-owned and should be considered the number one part of our infrastructure.

What we are dealing with here is uncharted territory. This is an important issue. The satellite should not be sold outside the country. That puts us in a position where we would not have any control or influence over what happens with it.

Taking that into account, you have made representations to the House of Commons, but you have not been given an answer. You have met with individual within the government; they are not answering you. What do you want this committee to do? From time to time, we make recommendations to the government. Sometimes they hear us; sometimes they do not. I would like you to be precise and clear in terms of what you want this committee to do.

Mr. Byers: First, I have not met with either Mr. Prentice or Mr. Bernier on this matter. A couple of my queries were posed to civil servants in a confidential manner because this is certainly a matter of some sensitivity.

The Industry Committee heard my views yesterday. They also heard the views of Marc Garneau, the former astronaut and former head of the Canadian Space Agency. He appeared as a witness yesterday and expressed views similar to my own. This is all happening very quickly. I was only called to speak to the Industry Committee on three- or four-days' notice. You are not the only ones who are just coming to realize that this is an issue. The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade needs to deal with this as a matter of urgency, given that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is the authority under the relevant legislation, the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act of 2005.

In terms of what the committee could do, first, this issue falls squarely within your mandate. It is not simply an Arctic issue; it is also a fisheries issue on both the East Coast and the West Coast. One of the specified purposes for RADARSAT-2 is to assist in fisheries monitoring and enforcement. You can see the trawlers, where they are coming from and where they are going. It does not matter whether it is cloudy or at night. You can see whether they have entered the 200-mile exclusive economic zone. You do not need to fly aircraft around anymore. This is quite fabulous as a fisheries enforcement piece of equipment. This falls squarely within your mandate. Any representation that you make to anyone should emphasize that. You could not be more appropriately engaged on this issue.

A Senate committee is very well placed to ask questions of the government. You are part of Parliament and therefore perfectly positioned to request answers from the government, and I understand that a member of the cabinet who is also a member of the Senate. There are various avenues that you will know about well and that I am less aware of.

In terms of perhaps calling witnesses from the Department of Foreign Affairs on the issue of the licence and its transfer, I do not want to be antagonistic because it is not a situation of antagonism. They have, in all likelihood, only turned their minds to this issue fairly recently. Friendly requests and constructive criticism are part of what makes good government work. Once they realize that there is concern about this issue, that it is an issue of great relevance to parliamentarians and the public in general, they will make darned sure that these concerns have been addressed and, if necessary, will recommend that the minister block the sale.

I would observe as well that any government that chose to block the sale could convey that decision in ways that would be very favourable to it as part of its Arctic sovereignty initiative. This is entirely consistent with announcing $750 million for a new polar icebreaker. It is not protectionism; it is about maintaining control over a sovereignty assertion device.

Senator Watt: I do not want to leave this particular subject matter without getting to the bottom of it. The point we will have to make is that the satellite is an eye from above, which is important.

I do have other concerns about the lack of infrastructure and lack of equipment in case traffic rapidly increases within the next few years, and I tend to think that is what will happen.

Mr. Byers: Even if it does not happen, to some degree, these are no-regret policies that I am recommending. If the increase in traffic is less rapid than I am anticipating, the infrastructure will still be put to good use in time. We already have an infrastructure deficit in the Arctic. Keeping RADARSAT-2, developing navigation devices and new forms of cooperation with the United States are all no-regret policies. In a sense, we are guarding against the risk while we are acting responsibly as a great Arctic country.

Senator Watt: Are there companies or individuals or scientists, people like yourself, who see the importance of this particular satellite? Are you alone in thinking along the lines that you have expressed to this committee? Are there others we can bring before us? We will need a force.

Mr. Byers: I have already mentioned Marc Garneau. He can speak very well to the space dimension, and you might wish to consult with him. Another person who was involved in RADARSAT-2 in the early days and does share my concerns is Lloyd Axworthy. He actually had to deal with the concerns of the U.S. government when RADARSAT-2 was being developed. He was engaged in high-level diplomacy with Madeleine Albright over RADARSAT-2. This is not a new issue. It is simply one that just has not attracted the attention of the media. Those two people most obviously come to my mind, but there are other, shall we say, experts from the scientific community who I cannot name at the moment but who certainly can speak to the technical capacity of the satellite.

There are, of course, people within MacDonald Dettwiler. Yesterday, when I appeared before the Industry Committee, an employee of MacDonald Dettwiler had agreed to speak to the committee to express his personal concerns about the sale. His concerns were more in terms of what this would do to the Canadian space industry with respect to the development of expertise and the maintenance of expertise in Canada, as well as his personal concerns about some of the other activities in which the American purchasing company is engaged. It is a very large producer of depleted uranium ammunition, cluster bombs and land mines. Although that does not create legal issues relevant to the sale, for some people it is a moral issue. We have invested so much Canadian taxpayer money in a piece of equipment that will now be put to use by a company that does things that some regard as immoral.

I am the person who has focused on the northern sovereignty dimension of this issue. That is simply because this is what I do. In my capacity as a project leader on ArcticNet, the Northwest Passage is the link that is most apparent to me.

Senator Cochrane: You did say that MacDonald Dettwiler has announced that it will sell the satellite, did you not?

Mr. Byers: Yes.

Senator Cochrane: The Canadian government has accounted for 82 per cent of the total amount invested in this company. How can they say that?

Senator Robichaud: We bought some services.

Mr. Byers: This is the point. We are not an investor in the sense of having expected a financial return. We pre- purchased a very large amount of imagery.

I am not an expert in the structuring of public-private partnerships. It is a complicated arrangement, but one consequence is that ownership of the satellite vests entirely with the company. What we got in return, as a protection for the money we put in, was the legislation and the authority for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to say no to any transfer of control. MacDonald Dettwiler agreed to the possibility that any sale might be opposed and therefore blocked by the Canadian government. That is why MacDonald Dettwiler is now seeking approval from the Canadian government for the sale to proceed.


Senator Robichaud: Is that the same company that wants to buy the Canadarm?


Mr. Byers: Yes, this is the same company that was involved in the Canadarm project, although I saw yesterday that the Canadarm is now owned by NASA. We are not talking here about the sale of the Canadarm.

Senator Robichaud: No, but this is the Canadian company that worked on it.

Mr. Byers: Yes, it is the same company, although we are not actually faced with the loss of the Canadarm. Although it has a Canadian Maple Leaf on it, the Canadarm is actually owned by NASA.


Senator Robichaud: All that technology was developed in Canada. We are going to lose some of our capability, are we not?


Mr. Byers: This is not within my expertise, but the concern is that the Canadian expertise will diminish over time as the company, having been sold, uses this technology to access these classified opportunities within the U.S. military. We then get into issues of whether or not Canadian citizens will be able to work on these projects. It goes beyond ITAR to more sensitive issues.

I believe the company will say that it needs to do this in order to survive and to grow, but I am a little skeptical of that. To some degree, the military market is the easiest market for it to access. It is making the simple corporate decision to pursue the easiest market. The peaceful uses are so substantial and the arguments in favour of continued Canadian government involvement are so strong that I am convinced that MacDonald Dettwiler, RADARSAT-2 and other successor satellites could have a very bright future in this country.

We would need to have a space policy — that is, an understanding among the different parties that this is the sort of thing that a great country needs to do. However, the current government is making bold decisions like $750 million for a new icebreaker. I see no inconsistency over what I am recommending and what I have seen over the course of the last two years.

Senator Hubley: Thank you very much, Professor Byers. You have obviously brought some absolutely new information to us in your presentation this morning. There have been some great questions and I think we are all formulating more questions as we move forward.

I see the importance of RADARSAT-2, as you have described to us, from our ability to have quick response capabilities to our sovereignty assertion capabilities. You hit a familiar chord when you said that this issue relates to work that could be done in the area of fisheries monitoring and the fisheries sector itself, and there are probably many other applications that we have not yet spoken about.

The Canadian Space Agency obviously had ownership of RADARSAT-1. For RADARSAT-2, we moved to a private company, although some caveats that are in place to protect our interests. If MacDonald Dettwiler has made selling a priority, what is Canada's position now? Where can we go to ensure that the technology that has been developed in Canada and the taxpayers' money that has been spent on that development remains within our control?

Mr. Byers: MacDonald Dettwiler has decided to sell RADARSAT-2 if it can get government approval. This does not mean that MacDonald Dettwiler will stop using RADARSAT-2 if the sale is blocked.

Let me be clear: I think that RADARSAT-2 will generate a lot of money for whoever owns it, whether it is sold to a U.S. company or whether it stays in Canada. This is a very profitable machine, which is why Alliant Techsystems wants to spend so much money to acquire it.

It is conceivable that MacDonald Dettwiler will be sufficiently dissatisfied with the sale having been blocked that it will seek another purchaser. I see no impediment against other Canadian-owned companies entering this field or taking the leap toward acquiring this particular technology.

In a worst case scenario — and I do not think we are there yet, nor do I think we necessarily must go there — it is conceivable that one option is to return RADARSAT-2 to the same place where RADARSAT-1 currently vests, and that is the Canadian Space Agency. I do not think we need to nationalize. This is a sufficiently profitable industry, one where private initiative can flourish.

I think that MacDonald Dettwiler is simply seeking to sell, if it can get approval, knowing that it might not, operating on the basis of a quite profitable back-up plan that would involve keeping the satellite and working with the Canadian government on the next generation. As I suggested, it may have come to the assumption that securing government funding for that next generation might be more difficult in the current political configuration.

Again, I think the arguments are so strong, especially when you make the link to northern sovereignty, that the current government could well be persuaded that this is what we need to do not only with RADARSAT-2 but also with a RADARSAT-3.

Once every 10 years or so, we need to be making this kind of investment and taking this kind of initiative if we want to remain a serious, developed country. For one that has the second-largest chunk of real estate on the planet, this is a necessary public good.

Senator Milne: I apologize for coming in late. Perhaps you covered this during your presentation, but I was in Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which meets at the same time.

This committee heard from DFO that Canada is on track to meet the 2013 deadline for mapping its portion of the continental shelf, which directly contradicts what I was told by foreign affairs officials last September. They said ``No, Canada will not be able to meet the deadline because we just do not have the number of qualified bodies to be able to do this; we do not have the ships to be able to do this. However, Russia received an extension of their time with no problems whatsoever and Canada will be able to receive an extension of our time.'' I would like your opinion as to whether you think that assessment is correct.

Mr. Byers: This is not an issue I have addressed yet this morning, but I suspect, as this is the Fisheries and Oceans Committee, that committee members are aware that there is an opportunity under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for coastal countries to claim exclusive jurisdiction over the seabed beyond 200 nautical miles from shore if they can prove that that seabed is a natural prolongation of the continental shelf.

We are going to be claiming quite a substantial area of seabed off the East Coast. We could well claim a pretty substantial area off our coast north of the Canadian archipelago, but we have to demonstrate that it is a natural prolongation. This involves not only mapping the shape of the ocean floor, but also doing the seismic work to identify the nature of the sediments.

In the Arctic, this is tough to do. It is a remote place; it is often dark, cold and very windy, and there still is a substantial amount of ice in the relevant area. I have called it Canada's moon mission. I think we can do it, but it is a great challenge.

Frankly, successive governments did not make this a priority because our deadline is not until 2013. They simply did not have an eye on that particular ball until fairly recently.

Canadian government scientists have been doing good work mapping the area north of Ellesmere Island from Twin Otter ski planes and helicopters; hitching rides on Russian icebreakers chartered by the Danish to do mapping north of Greenland along the Lomonosov Ridge; and testing the Louis S. St-Laurent, our flagship, 40-year-old icebreaker for seismic work in the Beaufort Sea.

The head of Canada's seabed mapping program, who is in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, was quoted last year by Randy Boswell of the Ottawa Citizen as saying if everything went absolutely perfectly, we would get it done on time; but nothing ever goes absolutely perfectly, especially in the Arctic.

The Canadian government has gotten the message to some degree. There is additional money for mapping in the most recent budget. We can certainly get the work done on time. I would defer to the technical experts as to how best to do that. It may involve chartering a foreign vessel, and there are polar icebreakers available for charter.

The most important point is that the government now seems to have its eye on this ball. The real people to consult are those in charge of the mapping program with regard to whether they have the resources they need to guard against the hiccups that will almost inevitably occur.

The final thing to say on this matter is that it is not just a question of the scientific mapping, although the science is crucial as part of making our claim. We also need to do some pretty serious diplomatic work with regard to certain inevitable overlaps with the claims of other countries.

We will have an issue in the Beaufort Sea.

Senator Milne: With the disputed wedge there.

Mr. Byers: Yes, with the wedge. Where the boundary is located within 200 nautical miles from shore will determine where it goes beyond 200 nautical miles from shore. That deserves diplomatic attention fairly quickly.

Now that President Bush has asked for the Senate's consent to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, this becomes more of a priority.

I am told that we are making progress with the Danes concerning the maritime boundary in the Lincoln Sea, and that is a good thing. Then we will have a likely overlap with the Russian claim in the middle of the Arctic Ocean on the Lomonosov Ridge near the North Pole, so diplomatic engagement with our Russian friends is also required. It is not just the scientific mapping; it is having our diplomatic corps being given the encouragement and support to engage with our neighbours because the three countries to which I referred are all neighbours of ours.

Senator Milne: Nothing is happening, particularly with the Americans right now, on that disputed area — the extension of the land boundary up between Alaska and the Yukon and the equidistant boundary.

Mr. Byers: I do not know of anything happening in diplomatic circles on that issue. I am someone who thinks that talking is almost always less risky than not talking. I have no hesitation with Canada engaging the United States on this and other issues, provided we do so with open eyes and the willingness to stand up for our interests.

Senator Milne: There is a lot of oil in that area.

Mr. Byers: In the Beaufort Sea, oil is less of an issue simply because, for better or worse, we have a North American energy market. The only issue is who gets the royalties. There probably will not be many royalties because either country would give significant royalty holidays to any company engaged in that kind of offshore work.

In a North American energy market, with Canadian companies bidding for American leases and American companies bidding for Canadian leases, the oil and gas is not actually a divisive issue — or at least it should not be. I have made the provocative suggestion that we could even think about doing a trade-off with the United States and give them their line in the Beaufort Sea in return for them giving us the A-B line in the Dixon Entrance at the southern end of the Alaska Panhandle. It was a facetious suggestion — the title of the piece was ``Let's Trade Oil for Fish'' — but I do not think we should be afraid to think outside the box here.

The Chair: As this committee is currently examining the Canadian Coast Guard, could you give us your views on the Coast Guard as it structurally exists today given the equipment it has? It has a mandate, but what should its mandate be in terms of what is happening in the Arctic, what will happen in the Arctic and the need for Canada to have a presence and to exercise some authority in that region?

Mr. Byers: My contact with the Coast Guard has been almost completely limited to the Amundsen and its crew in late October 2006. I was thoroughly impressed by them — the degree of professionalism and their very deep engagement and enthusiasm about the scientific work. The Coast Guard crew understood and was fully committed to supporting the scientific research. I have the highest regard for them doing wonderful things with a relatively old ship. They made me very proud.

There is no question in my mind that the Canadian agency that should be the lead agency in terms of northern shipping is the Coast Guard, with multi-purpose platforms to support Arctic research, to maintain navigation devices, to do search and rescue and to break ice for commercial vessels. There are many things that Coast Guard icebreakers do that the navy does not want to do and would not do as well; yet, they are — or at least have been — a bit of an orphan department. They do what they do with relatively little in terms of financial resources.

That status quo is no longer viable simply because we will get increased shipping and we are going to need to have a presence. We will need much better navigation devices, better charts and better search and rescue capabilities. Ideally, we will to want to break ice for commercial shipping. One way to get other countries to accept your jurisdiction is to provide a service that is valuable to them.

We should be thinking in terms of an Arctic gateway project, much like the Pacific gateway project that is being built out West. We should be looking at the North, our longest coastline, in terms of not only the challenges but also the opportunities that arise. The Coast Guard will have to play an absolutely central role.

This is not to preclude the military. The new ice-strengthened patrol vessels will serve an important purpose. To some degree, they are a replacement for the current maritime coastal patrol vessels. These new ice-strengthened vessels will operate usefully in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, for instance, in Baffin Bay and Hudson Bay and, with time, in an increasingly ice-free Arctic, but they do not replace the Coast Guard.

On the new $750-million commitment to a polar icebreaker, I support it. I am hopeful but, at the same time, slightly cynical because we have been here before, in 1985, when the Mulroney government promised us the Polar 8 and cancelled the contract three years later. We need new icebreakers. I will believe them when I can actually stand on the decks. We need more than one. This is certainly a start, and I am pleased that the government has recognized the need and is beginning to move forward.

The final issue to address is the capacity of the Coast Guard to actually engage in enforcement. One of the arguments against the Coast Guard is that we do not have an armed Coast Guard, unlike our American friends. There is a simple answer to that problem. When necessary, you put RCMP or Canadian Forces personnel on board the icebreaker, in probably quite small numbers. You still have a Coast Guard crew. You could even have a gun mount on the deck and a light machine gun stored in a secured closet below decks if you needed to transform the vessel into an armed vessel. It is called double-hatting in some instances. This does happen right now. You can have a Coast Guard crew temporarily become a Canadian Forces crew or a Department of Fisheries and Oceans enforcement crew. We put DFO officers on Canadian frigates. We could do the reverse, if necessary.

The Chair: Some DFO personnel are peace officers, are they not?

Mr. Byers: There are many imaginative ways that you can work with a Coast Guard platform. This is something that we talked about in terms of the model negotiation with former Ambassador Cellucci. You could even use what are called ship-riders. You could have a single American government employee on a Canadian icebreaker and a single Canadian employee on an equivalent U.S. vessel, enabling you to do enforcement in the other country's national waters. We do this on the Great Lakes already and the Juan de Fuca region. There are opportunities for cooperation between federal departments and between federal departments and provincial and territorial governments and with foreign governments in terms of using these multi-purpose platforms for other purposes when it is necessary to do so.

The emphasis has to be on the multi-purpose nature of the platform. It makes no sense to invest in an Arctic purpose-built vessel and give it to the navy because the navy will not use it in that multi-purpose way, not because the navy is not a very competent organization. I have great regard for the Canadian Forces. However, the Coast Guard is the agency that does the multi-purpose exertion of Canadian maritime ability in the North. They do it very well with what they have, and they will do it even better when they get the equipment they need.

The Chair: The only other issue that we did not address is the one you addressed in your column in the Ottawa Citizen this morning. Perhaps you could make a few brief comments on that before we close.

Mr. Byers: I do not need to speak to it in detail because you have the article and also the agreed recommendations, I believe. You can read them as well as I can.

The important point is that we wanted to find out whether an American and a Canadian team could constructively engage and identify opportunities for cooperation. None of our recommendations compromise Canadian sovereignty in any way. None of them lower the bar. All the recommendations seek to raise the bar in terms of environmental standards, for instance. In fact, in some instances, our recommendations are directed at getting the United States to do things.

For instance, in our first recommendation, we wanted to see the United States develop a notification and interdiction zone north of Alaska. At the moment, the United States does not require vessels coming north of Alaska to notify the U.S. government, nor does it have any system in place for doing interdictions of suspect vessels. It would be very useful to us if the Americans had their notification system — a mandatory system — in place for two reasons. First, it would then mean they would know what is coming toward us and would then let us know. Second, if they were to have a strong, mandatory notification system, there is no way they could complain about us making our existing voluntary system mandatory. You raise the bar in Canada partly by raising the bar in the United States.

We all agreed in the context of these negotiations — and the list of experts was very impressive and included people quite close to the Bush administration — that the challenges are serious and urgent enough that we needed to find ways to cooperate. The long-term conclusion might well be that the United States actually comes around to recognizing Canada's sovereignty claim. They will not do it now for one simple overriding reason. They are not convinced that we are truly committed to stepping up to the plate and actually exercising the degree of authority needed to protect their interests. Their worst-case scenario is to actually recognize Canada's sovereignty and then have us do nothing. If they recognize our sovereignty in the Northwest Passage and we do nothing or do not do enough, then they lose. They are much better off at the moment maintaining the legal dispute and working with us to encourage us to do the job, to build confidence in our abilities, to show that we are a great Arctic country, at which point it becomes a no-brainer for them that their partner in NORAD and NATO is doing the job along the northern coast of Canada and should be supported to the further degree of actually recognizing Canada's legal claim.

We can get there, and that is what this exercise was all about. It was about identifying means of cooperation that are good in themselves and that can also build confidence so that we can get the United States to come behind us and support us in terms of our legal position.

It is a bit bold. It is outside the box. It is not the thing that cautious governments and government departments are inclined to do, which is why I think you sometimes need people outside of the system to experiment in this way.

The Chair: It has been a very interesting and fascinating morning for all of us. Thank you very much for coming.

Mr. Byers: It has been a great pleasure. Thank you.

The committee adjourned.

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