Canada is set to assume the helm of the eight-member Arctic Council. China wants to become a permanent observer member. Sweden, the current chair, hasn’t addressed China’s request. Canada will probably need to, as well as guard against any attempt to undermine our historical claims to sovereignty in the Arctic. The best way to do that is from a position of strength. The Conservative government might hope international law and diplomacy will support Canada’s Arctic claims, but it cannot forsake warships, icebreakers, aircraft and military bases. Geopolitical reality tends to demonstrate that a show of hardware helps diplomacy work and the makes the law enforceable.