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The Honourable Chuck Strahl, PC, MP
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-status Indians
Announcement of the Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund Project Selection
March 31, 2009
Check against delivery
(Acknowledgments of Nunavut officials, local dignitaries, members of the media, as appropriate . . . .)
Thank you for the warm welcome.
Whenever I travel in the North, I find that I always receive the greatest hospitality, no matter what community I am visiting. It comes as no surprise that in Iqualuit this is no exception.
Our Government holds a vision of a new North – one that realizes the full social and economic potential of the Arctic region and secures its future, for the benefit of all Canadians. We are making real strides in advancing this vision, and I am happy to have the opportunity to share our progress with you here today.
The future prospects of the North continue to be bright despite the influence of the world-wide economic downturn. The rich reserves and potential for clean energy and minerals of Canada’s Arctic present great business and employment opportunities for Northerners. The North’s unspoiled natural beauty and its rich cultural heritage support a growing fisheries sector and tourism industry, capturing the attention of people from across the globe.
At the same time, Canada’s polar region is undergoing dramatic changes with significance for the entire country. As residents you face these environmental challenges head-on, and you know all too well the impact that it has on Arctic Communities.
In part, because of these concerns, our Government has placed a premium on investing in Arctic science. We recognize that we have an important role to play in the ongoing stewardship of the Canadian Arctic, its vast resources and its potential.
We have committed to making Canada a global leader in Arctic science through the four pillars of the Northern Strategy. Our International Polar Year investments reveal the depth of our commitment to this cause. In 2007-08, we provided $156 million for Canadian participation in International Polar Year (IPY) research activities – the largest contribution of any single country to IPY, which was itself the largest-ever global program dedicated to Arctic and Antarctic research.
To ensure Canada remains a global leader in Arctic science and to respond to the growing number of Arctic questions that require study, our Government also committed to establish a world-class research station in the High Arctic.
Canada’s Economic Action Plan pledged $2 million for a feasibility study for the station, which is now underway. This study will provide recommendations on the best final location, the facility’s functions, services to be offered and preliminary cost estimates.
Budget 2009 also committed $85 million over the next two years to upgrade or renovate existing Arctic research facilities.
This investment will ensure that a strong research infrastructure network is in place to support Canada’s new High Arctic research station.
Our Government is moving quickly to realize the commitments we made in our Economic Action Plan and to accommodate the unique construction needs of the North.
It has been just over a month since I was here to announce the three potential locations for the Station – all here in Nunavut – as well as the Call for Proposals for the Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund.
Over the past month, we have worked quickly to assess the many excellent proposals that have come in.
Just yesterday, I was in Yellowknife to announce our government’s commitment to 14 projects across the North. Today, I have the pleasure of announcing the final 6 selected projects, all here in Nuanvut.
These include investments to upgrade the telecommunications capability of the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory in Eureka. PEARL is one of the very few atmospheric observatories in the High Arctic, and the only one in the Canadian sector.
And we are also investing to improve facilities at Ellesmere Island used for monitoring ice conditions and for mapping Canada's continental shelf.
These are just two examples in your back yard.
Not only will these investments help to ensure scientists have the facilities necessary to conduct their work – they will provide Northerners with a significant economic stimulus.
I invite you to explore the complete list of selected projects, on hand today, which will also be posted on our website.
I am a real believer in the important role that Arctic science and technology play in helping us to realize the true potential of the polar region. It is our scientific knowledge base that makes Canada a global leader in Arctic research.