Harper’s Trip to the Arctic Highlights Policy Deficiencies
Stephen Harper’s week long trip to Canada’s Arctic included meetings with community leaders, as well as a meeting with Canadian Rangers who are soldiers tasked with protecting remote regions of Canada’s North. During the meeting Harper went target shooting with members of the Canadian Rangers using outdated fifty year old rifles called Lee Enfield .303.
The Rangers also lack training in ‘air-mobile, and water-borne operations,’ according to a 2012 Defense Science Advisory Board report, this kind of technology and training will be essential for the Rangers to fulfill their duty of protecting the Canadian Arctic.
In a statement, Stephen Harper expressed gratitude, and approved of the job the Rangers were doing.
“It was an honour to patrol with the Rangers […] as they work to defend our territory from potential threats, and emergencies and keep our North strong, secure and free,” Harper said in a statement.
The Arctic has always been an issue of importance to Harper, and in 2007 he said as much in a speech about Arctic sovereignty.
"Canada has a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty over the Arctic. We either use it or lose it," Harper said.
Despite this apparent interest in Arctic sovereignty, the government certainly is not doing much to assist the Rangers in fulfilling their job by ignoring necessary training and providing them without outdated technology.
In addition, social issues and mental health issues were not discussed when members of the Arctic community met with the Prime Minister during his visit. Considering the high suicide rate in the region, this issue should have been given priority.
During the meeting with Inuit leaders, Harper stressed the link between economic investment and social development, and insisted that the government did support services for people, and recognized the importance of doing so.
"Economic development really is critical to social development. That said, we don't rely on that entirely throughout this country, not just in the North. Governments support vital ranges of social services for people, health, education, you know, you go through the list. These remain critical things for governments to do."
Overall Harper’s trip to the Arctic highlighted the importance of policies being put into practice, and providing the necessary financial support to attain positive results.