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By Barbara Johns, Mark Zacher
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Additional resources for Canadian Foreign Policy and the Law of the Sea
As in 1956, the initial formulation of Canadian seabed policy occurred as a response to developments at the international level. 26 The content of this intervention indicated that Canada, like most other states, had been caught somewhat unprepared by the scope and innovativeness of what Pardo was suggesting. Accordingly the delegation's response was very definite on the question of continental shelf limits, where Canadian policy already existed, and very vague on the question of the international seabed regime and machinery, where there were no policy guidelines.
With this comment, Canada entered the ongoing international debate over whether the shelf definition should be fixed or flexible and, if fixed, whether by depth or distance. Aside from efforts to link shelf claims to claims in the superjacent waters, the idea of coastal-state control over the shelf was widely accepted, and so the controversy was not over whether the coastal state should have such control, but over how its control should be defined in terms of limits and rights. At the conference, Canada behaved like many other states.
Buzan and Danford W. Middlemiss of "equity" with which the delegation supported it, the proposal was grossly biased in favour of oceanic coastal states, of which Canada was a leading example, and equally biased against those coastal states bordering on small seas. In effect, it was not much different for Canada than a claim to the margin and was dropped after 1970 in favour of the explicit margin position that had underlain it all along. Besides defining Canada's claim the delegation sought to establish Canada's legal right to the resources of the margin as an existing fact, not subject to alteration or reversal by the decision of an international conference.