January–February 2019

Contents Related Letters

Re: “Polar Opposites,” by Edward Struzik

Edward Struzik kindly reviewed Cold Rush: The Astonishing True Story of the New Quest for the Polar North, which principally describes how post-colonial relations between Denmark and Greenland have developed between 2007 and 2018, and how these two parts of the Danish kingdom have engaged in the Arctic.
I am pleased that Struzik finds my book worth the attention of Canadian readers, but I must respond to this point: “Breum sees the race to own and control the Arctic as a complex and potentially dangerous international game-changer that could lead to military conflict. His thesis is well argued, but it overstates the danger because diplomacy has so far worked well.”
I hope and believe that this is not a precise appraisal. I have no desire to overstate any dangers; I certainly do not believe in any threat of imminent military conflict. Throughout my book, security issues play only secondary roles to Greenland’s and Denmark’s larger contributions.
Struzik’s review, therefore, brings attention to a broader, more pressing issue: ordinary people, politicians, businesses, teachers, artists, democratic processes, and diplomacy are primary sources of change and development in the region, but our relations with Russia and other security-related matters will continue to influence how, especially, governments think, act, and plan for the future. We must  be able to talk about the implications of difference without being deemed unduly alarmist. In my opinion, Struzik’s review provides a good example of why this is the case. He finds that my book “overstates the danger,” but then continues to recognize how Russia is “the elephant in the room” because of its 2014 annexation of Crimea, the history of the Cold War, and the country’s “military might and icebreaker capabilities.” Also, Struzik speculates that Russia may not continue to adhere to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea if its claims to the Arctic seabed are not fully accommodated.
As observers of Arctic developments, we cannot ignore security concerns or military capabilities in the area. If, for instance, you live in one of the small Nordic Arctic nations—Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark—there is no escaping Russia’s closeness and shifting political situation. The changing significance of Thule Air Base, managed by the U.S. Air Force in Greenland, and the recent deployment of U.S. troops on a semi-permanent basis to Norway are other examples.
To recognize the political differences between Russia and the other Arctic Council states—or the implications of China’s emerging interests—is not the same as claiming that military conflict is imminent or even probable. When I pay attention in brief sections of my book to Danish or Greenlandic security thinking, I simply reflect how security has long helped shaped the Arctic.

Martin Breum
Copenhagen


Re: “The Foreign-Baby Baby Problem,” by Andy Lamey

I agree with Lamey that birthright citizenship is central to a fair and inclusive Canadian society. It’s a fundamental issue of equity. You cannot pick and choose who should be given Canadian citizenship upon birth, or how. Doing so—for example, by blood—would allow room for discrimination. It would also lead to a costly and time-consuming administrative nightmare, as matching parental relationships and legal status requires the establishment of a national database.
We have no credible evidence that birth tourism is a significant problem throughout Canada; rather, it’s an issue of limited regional scope. According to Statistics Canada, 313 babies were born in Canada to non-citizen mothers in 2016, which reflects a significant drop from 699 babies born to non-citizen mothers in 2012. In addition, this appears to be an issue in British Columbia, specifically Richmond. This local problem requires a local solution, such as more stringent admission criteria and provincial regulation of so-called birth hotels. It does not require a dramatic national policy change.
Canada is a model country for openness, inclusivity, and compassion toward immigrants and refugees. A blanket approach to end birthright citizenship would adversely affect thousands born to individuals on student visas, to temporary foreign workers, and to refugees in the process of securing permanent residence. It may also jeopardize our reputation as an inclusive and democratic society, as well as our ability to compete in the knowledge economy. This is important as most parts of the country, especially Atlantic Canada, face an aging population, skill and labour shortages, and significant out-migration.
Simply put, banning birthright citizenship is not an appropriate national solution to a local problem.

Tony Fang
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John’s


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