OTTAWA — Canada is hoping to lay claim to some prime North Pole real estate.
The federal government has until Friday to submit its claim to an extended continental shelf — and its potential oil and gas gold mine — to the United Nations.
But Prime Minster Stephen Harper asked federal bureaucrats to revise their submission to the UN to include the North Pole — laying claim to a greater part of the Arctic than was planned and into an area being claimed by Russia and Denmark.
A senior government source told QMI Agency that Canada wasn't prepared to cede its claim to the North Pole to those nations and asked officials to revise the final application.
A preliminary claim submission will still be filed.
No country currently owns or can lay claim to the polar region. Canada’s marine claims — like all coastal nations — is limited to 200 nautical miles (370 km) off its shores.
Being able to plant a flag on an extended continental shelf would allow Canada and other Arctic nations to exploit a region that's been described as potentially the largest warehouse of resource wealth on Earth.
Robert Huebert, an expert on circumpolar relations and defence with the University of Calgary, said it's important to claim the biggest piece of the Arctic pie as possible.
“It's very important that we get it right, it's very important that we actually submit a claim – a submission – that maximizes what Canada's allowed under international law,” he said.
Canada conducted a multi-year, $200-million scientific mapping exercise in preparation for its submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. The government estimates it could extend Canada’s territory by 1.75 million square kilometres – an area roughly the size of Alaska.