|Copyright Â© Graeme MacKay. Please check for MacKay's posting and publication rules by clicking here.
Stephen Harper, elected Monday as prime minister, warned
the United States on Thursday to back off from its
challenge of Canadian sovereignty in Arctic waters that are
fast thawing from global warming.
In the first news conference since his election, Harper
upbraided the U.S. ambassador for asserting that the icy
polar regions, including the legendary Northwest Passage,
are international waters.
Canada claims that its archipelago of some 16,000 islands
makes that region Canadian territory.
"The United States defends its sovereignty. The Canadian
government will defend our sovereignty," Harper said. "It's
the Canadian people we get our mandate from, not the
ambassador of the United States."
The two countries -- as well as Russia -- have had
conflicting claims in the Arctic for at least three decades.
Harper's Conservative Party has proposed expanding
Canada's military presence, building new icebreakers and
creating an early warning system to detect other ships, all
to enforce its claim of sovereignty.
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