Development or Bust: Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship 2013–15

  • Heather Exner-PirotEmail author
Part of the Springer Polar Sciences book series (SPPS)


Canada chaired the Arctic Council from 2013–15. During its tenure, Canada attempted to rebalance the policy focus of the Arctic Council from environmental protection to sustainable, or as it termed it, responsible development. These efforts were met with resistance from many within the Arctic Council epistemic community. Critics feared that its support for resource development compromised efforts to combat climate changes; and that the agenda favored business stakeholders over scientific ones. This chapter describes and assesses Canada’s efforts to prioritize Arctic development at the regional level. It evaluates the extent to which its development agenda gained traction not only during its Chairmanship, but subsequently in the American and Finnish Chairmanship agendas and through the ongoing work of the Council. Finally, it provides some reflections on the style and impact of the Canadian Chairmanship.


Canada Arctic Council Canadian foreign policy Chairmanships Northern development 


  1. Alaska State Legislature. (2015). Arctic Economic Council: Bill SJR 16, April 2, 2015.
  2. Arctic Council. (2014, October 22–23). Arctic Council SAO meeting final draft report. Yellowknife, Canada, 4. Retrieved from on July 22, 2015.
  3. Axworthy, L., & Simon, M. (2015, March 4–5). Is Canada undermining the Arctic Council? Globe and Mail. Toronto.Google Scholar
  4. Axworthy, T. S., Koivurova, T., & Hasanat, W. (2012). The Arctic Council: Its place in the future of Arctic governance. Toronto: Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program & the University of Lapland.Google Scholar
  5. Bell, Jim. (October 29, 2012). Aglukkaq Stresses ‘People-first’ approach to Arctic Council. Nunatsiaq News. Accessed from
  6. Bennett, M. (October 26, 2015). What does Trudeau victory in Canadian election mean for the arctic? Anchorage Daily News. Accessed from
  7. Bloom, E. (1999, July). The establishment of the Arctic Council. American Journal of International Law, 93(3), 712–722.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boswell, R. (2013, May 12). Aglukkaq of the Arctic: Can Federal Minister set a vision for international council? Postmedia News. Retrieved from on July 15, 2015.
  9. Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Resource Development Principles. (2011, May). Accessed from on April 7, 2015.
  10. DFATD (Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada). (2013). Minister Aglukkaq Concludes Successful Visit to Arctic Council States. Press Release. Retrieved from on July 20, 2015.
  11. Exner-Pirot, H. (2011, Spring). Canadian leadership in the circumpolar world: An agenda for the Arctic Council Chairmanship 2013–2015. Northern Review, No. 33.Google Scholar
  12. Exner-Pirot, H. (2015). The Canadian Arctic Council ministerial–what to expect. eye on the Arctic. April, 15.Google Scholar
  13. Exner-Pirot, H. (2016a). Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship (2013–2015): A post-mortem. Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, 22(1), 84–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Griffiths, F. (2009). Towards a Canadian Arctic strategy. Canadian International Council.Google Scholar
  15. Greaves, W. (2013). Canada, circumpolar security, and the Arctic Council. Northern Public Affairs, 2(1), 58–62.Google Scholar
  16. Huskey, L. (2005). Challenges to economic development: Dimensions of “remoteness” in the north. Polar Geography, 29(2), 119–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mackrael, K. (2014, April 15). Ottawa upbraids Russian envoy, skips Arctic Council meeting over Ukraine. Globe and Mail. Accessed from on June 14, 2018.
  18. McGuire, L., & Herron B. (Ocotober 17, 2014) An open letter to admiral papp and ambassador Balton. The bristol bay times. Accessed from
  19. Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. (2017). Exploring common solutions: Finland’s Chairmanship 2017–19. Accessed from{777C6FF8-CB36-426D-9430-62E8870A5640 on May 18, 2018.
  20. Ministry for Foreign Affairs Finland. (2010). Finnish snow-how ensures safe passage for Santa and his gifts – even in heavy snow. Accessed from on May 18, 2018.
  21. Nord, D. (2013). Creating a framework for consensus building and governance: An appraisal of the Swedish Arctic Council chairmanship and the Kiruna ministerial meeting. In L. Heininen, H. Exner-Pirot, & J. Plouffe (Eds.), Arctic yearbook 2013. Akureyri: Northern Research Forum.Google Scholar
  22. Papp, R. (2014) Remarks made at “Passing the Arctic Council Torch”, event held in Washington, DC, September 30, 2014. Center for Strategic and International Studies.Google Scholar
  23. Quaile, I. (2014, September 2). Arctic Economic Council – and the Environment? Eye on the Arctic. Accessed from on April 3, 2015.
  24. Scrivener, D. (1996). Environmental cooperation in the Arctic: From strategy to council. Norske Atlanterhavskomité.Google Scholar
  25. Sevunts, L. (Jan. 21, 2013). Canada and Russia stress arctic econmic development. CBC News. Accessed from
  26. Staples, L. (1998). Looking back, looking forward: Sustainable development for the Arctic. WWF Arctic Bulletin, 2, 4–15.Google Scholar
  27. Stickman, M. (2015, April 24) Remarks by Michael Stickman at the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Iqaluit, 2015. Arctic Athabaskan Council. Retrieved from on July 25, 2015.
  28. U.S. State Department. (2018). Our Arctic Nation. Accessed from on June 14, 2018.
  29. Wherry, A. (2011, September 26). Canada does not just “go along” in order to “get along”. Maclean’s. Accessed from on June 14, 2018.
  30. Willis, M. (2013, May 16). Reflections on Canada’s Vision for the Arctic Council. The Arctic Institute. Retrieved from on July 20, 2015.
  31. Wingrove, J. (2013, October 22). Canada’s role in Arctic science slipping, US official says. Globe & Mail. Retrieved from on July 20, 2015.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

Personalised recommendations