Yukon Member of Parliament Larry Bagnell has proposed a private member’s bill to make the Canadian Arctic a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
Bill C-629, introduced on February 15th, would would make it a criminal offense to “possess, manufacture, test, store, transport or deploy a nuclear weapon in the Canadian Arctic.” The prohibition would not apply, however, to delivery vehicles such as bomber aircraft.
Private member’s bills stand little chance of being passed into law–or even of being debated in parliament. Nonetheless, Bagnell’s initiative could help to bring some welcome attention to the issue.
According to Bagnell, fellow Liberals Bob Rae and Dominic Leblanc, his party’s Foreign Affairs and National Defence critics, also favour the initiative. Their stated support suggests at least the possibility that a future Liberal government would be willing to consider such a move.
In 2010, the Canadian Pugwash Group and the Rideau Institute released a report calling for the entire Arctic region, not just Canadian territory, to be made a nuclear-weapons-free zone (Michael Wallace & Steven Staples, Ridding the Arctic of Nuclear Weapons: A Task Long Overdue, March 2010).