Ottawa: The Canadian minister for the Arctic Council, Leona Aglukkaq, is facing strong protest when the council meets in Iqaluit this afternoon. Documents that High North News has seen show that Permanent Participants in the council do not accept the Chairman’s approach to Russia.
In a letter posted the day before the meeting, the Arctic Athabaskan Council claims that Aglukkaq is violating the founding principles of the Arctic Council.
The Arctic Athabaskan Council quotes a message from the minister saying, “Canada will use the Arctic Council ministerial meeting as an opportunity once again to deliver our tough message to Russia for their aggression against Ukraine”.
In the letter, the Athabaskan organization makes it clear that it will not accept the use of Arctic Council to such a protest.
Of course, we very much object to Russia’s reported activities in Ukraine, but the Arctic Council is not the forum in which to make statements such as you propose, the letter, signed by Mr. Michael Stickman, states.
The Arctic Athabaskan Council describes themselves as an international treaty organization established to defend the rights and further the interests internationally of American and Canadian Athabaskan members First Nation governments in the eight-nation Arctic Council and other international fora.
In the letter to the Arctic Council, they urge the Canadian foreign minister to respond to the stance taken by Leona Aglukkaq, and to acknowledge the fact that “The 1996 declaration, which established the Council, prohibits it from addressing military and security matters”.
Rather than speaking to the interests and position of Canada, your role as Chair is to serve all members and permanent participants and to help the Council move forward on the basis of consensus, the letter claims.
It is already known that the Russian foreign minister Sergej Lavrov will not attend the meeting in Iqaluit. Observers see this as a protest against the Canadian leadership of the Arctic Council.