R. A. J. Phillips
Privy Council Office and Arctic Sovereignty Portfolio, 1950s
R. A. J. Phillips, a civil servant in the Privy Council Office and External Affairs Department who held the Arctic Sovereignty portfolio during the 1950s, wrapped his criticism of Canada's lack of attention towards Arctic development in cultural terms, drawing on ideas of the North as a key feature of the Canadian experience. In a 1956 article in the Canadian Forum he employed frontier imaginary writing that
a more likely signpost to the north of another generation is the growing frontier days of the Canadian west. The same wealth of resources, the same initiative, the same people will be making it. The face of the future north may not look much like the west - ever - but as in the west we shall be claiming our own heritage. We shall, too, be pushing to another sea: to the sea we share with the Russians
, January 1956, 224).
Phillips remained a vocal advocate of Northern development and an internal sceptic of Ottawa's reluctance to provide for Arctic projects. Beyond the material gains, however, Phillips continued to conceive of the North as a symbolically significant space. His calls for more funds and Canadian activity in the Arctic closely coalesced around the idea of the North's identity-shaping potential: "Psychologically, the opening of the North through 4,000 miles from our southern border is more likely than any single conscious scheme to develop a sense of national entity and national purpose" (Phillips, August 11, 1956).