Local opposition to Ajax is to be expected, as is the concern about Enbridge and Trans-Mountain to the extent that they affect communities along the proposed routes and the ecosystem of B.C. as a whole.
But the fact that it’s become fashionable for Canadians to criticize virtually all resource-related projects is to ignore reality and invite fiscal disaster, particularly to health care, education and anti-poverty initiatives, which comprise so much of government spending.
A very wise man once said that simply put, there are only two roads to the economic success of a nation. The first is to be resource rich, as is epitomized by Canada.
The second is to have a “national intellectual inquisitiveness,” (and innate work ethic), as is epitomized by Japan and by Germany.
Important to this letter is the fact that the German economy is 70 per cent service-based, 30 per cent industrial-based, and less than one per cent resource-based. In fact Germany imports two-thirds of its energy requirements.
Japan has the third largest economy in the world, (after the U.S. and China), and is the world’s largest producer of electronics. And not only is Japan the third largest producer of automobiles in the world, it reinvented that industry in the U.S.!
And now to Canada.
Canada’s price of admission to the leading economies of today’s world lies in our sparse population spread over a huge resource-rich land mass. We will never develop the condensed, hugely populated, well-educated, focused technology that by necessity, mandates the development and wherewithal to market world-class goods and services.
Twenty per cent of Canada’s economy is resource-based, period. Our exports, for decades to come, will consist primarily of lumber, coal, oil, minerals and hockey players. We will never compete with Japan’s ability to import our coal and used razor blades, turn them into structural steel, and send them back to Canada at a profit.
We can fool ourselves, (up to a point) by building a nuclear reactor, and selling at half of our cost to manufacture to a country intending to use it not for energy but to build (successfully) nuclear weapons. This doesn’t pass even a rudimentary taste test. Alternatively we could again create artificial barriers around our borders and force Canadians to buy extremely expensive made-in-Canada television sets, (but even the U.S. isn’t that stupid).
Finally, we could simply accept the reality that is the oilsands, the pipelines, the clear-cuts, the mines and the lack of tariffs that enable Canada to maintain its prestigious health-care system and its public schools, to name but two “big-ticket” items.
Would someone care to explain to me why the have-not provinces of Ontario and Quebec line up with their tin cups for transfer payments from the wealthy provinces of Newfoundland, Saskatchewan and Alberta? How many readers can truthfully state that they envisioned the foregoing groupings 20 years ago, and how many of you truly believe that resources didn’t affect the dynamics of same?
And would that someone care to explain to me how we could maintain our enviable (but not perfect) standard of living without utilizing our oil, potash, and mines (including copper)?
I’ll wear a grass shirt, live in a log cabin, let public schooling end at Grade 8 and use granny’s poultice on infections if you’ll do likewise, but a lot of folks, (including those who live in Aberdeen), might not be that idealistic.
And as for the professors and doctors predicting a made-in-Kamloops Death Valley, are any of them bothered that China is running coal trains to and from Mongolia on quadruple-tracked railroads and putting new coal-fired, minimally pollutant-free powerplants on line at the rate of one per week?
We live and will die in a global village. Our heritage will either inhabit a vibrant democratic country or be the victims of our lack of reality. As but one example, with 97 per cent of the Mackenzie basin entering the Arctic as pristine as a mountain stream, how many billions of people will watch their kids dehydrate and die whilst we thump our chests and say, “Nobody’s going to get our water?”