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Is Santa Canadian?

Optimize Blog - November 27, 2009 - 0 comments

As a citizen of the North Pole Santa is probably a little confused about who he should be paying his taxes to.
Sovereignty has never really been an issue in the past not least because there’s actually no land to speak of – the North Pole is a shifting piece of ice and only defined as an imaginary point where the lines of longitude cross.  Indeed back in 1920 when two Eskimos confessed to killing a member of the Peary expedition ten years previously, the case was dropped due to the inability of anyone to prove jurisdiction.
Canada and Denmark have the closest landmasses and just this week we saw Canada once again staking a claim for sovereignty over the North West Passage as well as some robust statements from various politicians over Canada’s rights to the Arctic interest.
Canada, of course, has some form here.  In 2000 they threatened to charge a pilot with ‘littering’ when he abandoned his plane due to engine failure near the North Pole.  He eventually returned to fix it and recovered the errant aircraft.  At the time no other countries sought to challenge Canada’s intent or legal right to do so.
Since then, however, things have changed and the catalyst is the potentially massive quantities of natural resources that sit below the ice pack.  Estimates vary but oil and gas reserves alone could be vast, albeit extremely expensive to recover.
Russia has regularly tested Canada’s patience with their military flights crossing into disputed Canadian territorial waters.  The odd US submarine pops up at the North Pole from time to time too, whilst the Russian navy went so far as to plant a flag on the sea bed at the North Pole.  I think it is fair to assume that this discussion is far from over.
How it will all be resolved or, indeed, if it ever will be resolved are difficult questions to answer.  Would a country actually be prepared to invade the North Pole? Would Canada or Denmark take military steps to defend such an act?  If the answer to either of these questions is actually no, then why bother debating or passing motions around sovereignty?
It’s a bit like hedging your bets – “we’ll keep posturing so no one forgets that we think it’s ours”.  Ultimately we suspect that words will not be enough but, with the price of oil and gas in particular relatively depressed at the moment,  this issue will be a news sub-plot for some time to come.
In the meantime perhaps Santa should just accrue his potential tax liability and make sure his records are accurate.  I guess at this time of year he probably has other things on his mind…

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