October 6, 2022

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Canada’s longstanding resistance to NATO involvement in the Arctic appears to be thawing as temperatures rise and Russian and Chinese activity in the region intensifies.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hosting a visit by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg this week. The two are scheduled to tour a military radar site in Nunavut on Thursday before they head to an air force base in Alberta on Friday.

The tour represents the first visit by a NATO secretary general to Canada’s Arctic and comes as the military alliance has started to put more emphasis on protecting its northern flank.

Ottawa has long opposed greater NATO involvement in the Arctic due to what experts describe as a desire to protect Canadian sovereignty and avoid provoking Russia.

But a senior government official speaking on background says Stoltenberg’s visit reflects a recognition of the effect climate change is having when it comes to activity and security in the region.

Some experts say a softening of Canada’s hesitance to work with NATO in the Far North is long overdue, though exactly what form any deeper co-operation should take is being hotly debated.

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