The Harper government has had to put the bidding process on hold for those looking to operate and maintain the early-warning radar chain in the Arctic as Aboriginal groups have imposed their rights to consultations.

This early-warning radar system guards against unsolicited foreign entry into Canadian and US airspace in the north via a chain of 47 unmanned radars along the Arctic coast from Alaska to Labrador.

According to the Montreal Gazette, the radar system contract was awarded to Nasittuq, a joint venture between Calgary-based Atco Group and Pan Arctic Inuit Logistics Corp. in 2001, but it has since expired.

In 2009, Ottawa issued a letter informing all interested parties that a bidding process would occur in the future. However, Aboriginal land-claim agencies have stated that the letter caught them off-guard because they had not been consulted.

Under the Nunavut land-claims settlement the federal government is required to consult with the people of the land if a project happens to fall within their territory.

The Inuvialuit Regional Corp., which manages the settlement for the Inuit, has since stated it would be their preference to see the contract once again awarded to Nasittuq because it is better business for the Inuit people in the region.

A number of multinational defense contractors, including Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, have expressed interest in the contract however the bidding process will not resume until such time that proper consultation has taken place with the Inuit.