By Ian Gunn
BBC News, Vancouver
Canada has announced plans for six naval patrol vessels and a deep-water port in the north to assert its claim to territorial waters in the Arctic.
Stephen Harper says it is time to re-assert a claim to the north
Other countries, including the US, say the waters are international territory.
The $3bn (£1.5bn) announcement at Canada's Pacific naval base comes in part to fulfil an election promise.
Ottawa also sees economic potential in protecting its claim to the Arctic, as the area is thought to be rich in natural resources.
Since the end of the Cold War, Canada's modest military and coast guard have only rarely patrolled its northern coast line. Now Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the time has come to re-assert Canada's claim to the north.
At a dockside ceremony complete with brass bands, fluttering flags and sharp white uniforms, the prime minister promised to build at least six new patrol ships with ice-breaking hulls to extend his country's presence into the Arctic Ocean.
Oil, gas and diamonds are thought to lie beneath the Arctic waters
That presence, Ottawa hopes, will remind other countries - including the US - of Canada's claim to the waters off its northern coast.
The claim could also have serious economic implications. Natural resources including oil, gas and diamonds are thought to lurk - perhaps in abundance - under the Arctic ice.
And then there is the North-West Passage - the northern shipping route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that European explorers sought for centuries.
With a warming climate, the route may just become viable and lucrative.
A deciding factor in the territorial disputes may be whether Canadians ever actually venture into the areas in question. And so the time has come, Ottawa says, to make sure that they do.