Public Opinion on Canadian Arctic Sovereignty and Security


  • Mathieu Landriault



Arctic sovereignty, Arctic security, Canadian Arctic, public opinion, public preferences, Canadian foreign policy, circumpolar region, opinion polls, issue saliency, military sovereignty


Previous research on Canadian Arctic sovereignty and security has focused on governmental actions and policy recommendations. While these studies have produced some fine scholarship on those matters, Canadian public opinion on Arctic issues has been mostly assumed or analyzed on an anecdotal basis. This paper aims to correct this shortcoming by drawing the contours of public preferences on Arctic issues and assessing the impact of government activism on those preferences. An examination of 18 opinion polls conducted between 2006 and 2015 that questioned respondents directly or indirectly on circumpolar affairs concluded that Canadians do not prioritize the Arctic among other national priorities, although they rank it high as a foreign policy and defense priority. Additionally, even though increasing military presence in the Arctic seems at first glance to receive an exceptionally high level of support, a more careful examination of the data suggests that a majority of Canadians supports an approach to Arctic sovereignty that is rooted in compromises and negotiations.