The Mulroney Government and the Problem of Sovereignty of Canada in the Arctic in 1980s

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Institute for the U.S. and Canadian Studies, RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameNovaia i noveishaia istoriia
EditionIssue 2

The Mulroney Government's decision to draw direct baselines around the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and explicitly assert Canadian sovereignty over these waters marked a move away from a functional approach that was aimed merely to increase Canadian control over shipping in these waters. From that time onwards, the straight baseline method has been a key element in the justification for Canadian sovereignty over the waters of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. As the largest Arctic power with similar positions on some Arctic issues (the legal status of the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route) and a potential field of conflict of interest (the continental shelf), it is crucial for Russia to understand the nuances of Canada's position regarding its sovereignty over various types of space in the Arctic (land, sea space, continental shelf). The article draws on a wide range of sources: transcripts of debates in the House of Commons; news articles; ministerial documents and statements by their leaders; and the memoirs of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Significant among the sources are articles by Canadian lawyers of the time who substantiated the benefits for Canada of using the straight baseline method to justify its sovereignty in the Arctic. The author concludes that the measures taken by the Mulroney Government are important for the international recognition of Canadian sovereignty over the waters of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

KeywordsCanada, Arctic, Northwest Passage, sovereignty, foreign policy, United States, law of the sea, Brian Mulroney
Publication date30.04.2023
Number of characters39555
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