Canada Joins Fray for Territorial Sovereignty Over North Pole Arctic Region

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | December 10, 2013 12:51 PM EST

Canada has formally joined in the fray of nations laying territorial sovereignty over the North Pole. On Monday, the country announced it had filed before the United Nations an application seeking to expand its Atlantic sea boundary.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird confirmed during a news conference in Ottawa on Monday the country had submitted a claim to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf on Friday.

The application, however, was specifically only for expanded territory in the Atlantic Ocean. The Canadian government actually missed the deadlines placed for the resource-rich Arctic.

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird (R) and Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq walk past an Arctic map while arriving at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

To supplement the miss, the country filed an application with preliminary data which shows that the North Pole lies within Canadian territory.

"We are determined to ensure that all Canadians benefit from the tremendous resources that are to be found in Canada's Far North," Mr Baird said.

However, Christmas in the North Pole could still be a long stretch. It still might take a decade before Canada can lay total and full claim on the contested region given the United Nations' lengthy processes.

"We have asked our officials and scientists to do additional work and necessary work to ensure that a submission for the full extent of the continental shelf in the Arctic includes Canada's claim to the North Pole," Mr Baird said.

"Fundamentally, we are drawing the last lines of Canada. We are defending our sovereignty and defining Canada's last frontier," Minister for the Arctic Council Leona Aglukkaq added in the same conference.

Apart from Canada, Denmark and Russia also lay claims over the expansive Arctic archipelago and its surrounding waters. All three countries maintained the Lomonosov Ridge, abundant with minerals and oil, is a natural extension of their continental shelves. The Lomonosov Ridge runs beneath the ocean and close to the North Pole.

The region, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, holds 30 per cent of the world's undiscovered natural gas, along with 15 per cent of oil.

"The North Pole is part of the Canadian continental shelf, but we need the data to prove this conclusive," Hugh Adsett, director general of legal affairs at Canada's Foreign Affairs and International Trade department, said. But this has to be proven.

"We don't know how much more work there is to do," Mr. Adsett told journalists.

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