THE GREAT BETRAYAL: Arctic Canada Now by Farley Mowat


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In Canada North (1967), Farley Mowat drew attention to the neglected half of his country oriented to the Arctic; after a ten-year spurt of resource development, he returns to survey the damage and spotlight the region's diverse potential. With advanced icebreakers like the Russian nuclear-powered Lenin, an international trade route might be opened through polar pack ice; the vast tundra plains, climatically little different from their southern counterparts, could support reindeer husbandry on the Lapp model; given proper protection, whales and seals would repopulate the ice-free waterways of the far northwest and rescue the remaining natives from the dole. Instead, the North is being despoiled by risky drilling in the polar pack ice, by emissions from the Athabaska tar sands project, by the effects of numerous other projects permitted, even encouraged, by the national and provincial governments--for the benefit, largely, of foreign consumers and foreign companies, ""a much more sophisticated form of colonialism."" The one hope, correspondingly, is ""the new determination of the native Northerners to have a say in their own destinies."" Mowat's tendency to romanticize native aspirations and excoriate white greed is balanced by his recognition that, in Canada as elsewhere, development-politics is ipso facto economics. And the stretch required to envision Hudson's Bay as another Mediterranean--encouraged by one of the many special maps--is, for most of us, its own reward.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1977
Publisher: Little, Brown