Commentary: Resource development need not harm environment
Natural Resources minister makes the case for a balanced approach that protects the environment and fuels growth
OTTAWA, May 15, 2012 – Canada can achieve a regulatory system for resource development that protects Canadians and the environment and at the same time supports Canada’s competitive advantage, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver argued recently in a keynote speech to a Macdonald-Laurier Institute conference in Toronto.
MLI today is releasing a Commentary based on Minister Oliver’s March 26 speech to Moving Canada Ahead: Fuelling prosperity and sustainability in our transport system. In the Commentary, Oliver argues it is not a choice of either/or: In fact, necessary resource development can proceed while addressing key environmental concerns.
“We can provide reviews of major projects that are timely and more predictable. We can reduce regulatory duplication. And we can protect the environment and address the legitimate concerns of Canadians, including Aboriginal peoples,” Oliver writes in his commentary.
Oliver asks first if we are prepared to take full advantage of our immense resource endowment, including our oil sands, and adds that if the answer is yes, “Are we prepared to do what is needed to attract investments and build the infrastructure to move our resources from where they are, to where they are wanted?”
Oliver notes that some Canadians are ambivalent, skeptical or unalterably opposed. But he adds that, “Every now and then in our national life we come to a crossroads where we must make fundamental decisions about the direction our country should take.”
He draws comparisons between this fundamental decision and moments of truth in previous centuries: John A. Macdonald’s National Policy in the 19th century or the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement in the 20th century. In a statement that echoes the arguments in MLI’s first book, The Canadian Century, Oliver says, “This century can truly be Canada’s if we have the vision, the will and the ability to grasp the extraordinary opportunity our natural resources offer.”
Natural resources have been the backbone of our economy and our standard of living from Canada’s earliest days, writes Oliver. Today, unconventional sources of energy are emerging, and “we are emerging as an energy superpower and mining giant offering prosperity and security for Canadians across the country for generations to come.”
These new sources will have geopolitical and economic implications, including reduced dependency on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), that will be positive for western countries. The enormous benefits accrue not just to Alberta but Ontario, as well.
Oliver writes the debate about responsible development of our natural resources is truly transformational: “It is, without exaggeration, about the future of Canada.”
Oliver writes that the Macdonald-Laurier Institute has become one of the premier forums for discussing key public policy issues in this country. “One reason is that Brian (Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley) and the Institute don’t pull any punches and never shy away from debate or controversy.”
The Macdonald-Laurier Institute is the only non-partisan, independent national public policy think tank in Ottawa focusing on the full range of issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. www.macdonaldlaurier.ca
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