Inaction and Regulatory Burdens Are Hindering Canada’s Capabilities as a Global Competitor

March 5, 2020 Updated: March 5, 2020
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Commentary

Despite the hastily completed agreement with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, the federal government’s foot-dragging in ending the solidarity protests across the country that were spurred by the dispute over the Coastal GasLink pipeline will only further entrench a culture of radical obstructionism and incentivize future actions similarly impacting the economy.

Such brinkmanship by our politicians has the potential to greatly incapacitate Canada’s capabilities as a global competitor.

As a report from Canada’s Economic Strategy Tables pithily puts it, the country’s resource sectors “face severe growth and competitiveness challenges that are driving investment out of Canada and crippling the sectors’ ability to thrive.”

One of the biggest problems is the excess burden the regulatory systems impose on companies, specifically the costs and delays that have resulted in Canada ranking dismally in the OECD in terms of how long it takes for construction projects to receive the necessary regulatory approval. (Canada ranks 34 out of 35 countries, according to the World Bank.)

The particular sector in question, oil and gas, is especially hampered by the enduring parochialism in Ottawa, despite that the sector employs about 740,000 people and contributes almost 11 percent to GDP and more than $20 billion a year in payments to governments, according to Natural Resources Canada.

The federal Liberals are known to be “climate hawks,” and their conception of Indigenous issues is inextricably linked with the climate change agenda. In this way they have ingratiated themselves to dogmatists who have hyper-politicized the climate issue and divorced it from the humility, good statesmanship, and dispassionate analysis it requires.

The most depressing aspect of environmental advocacy is that it co-opts a natural inclination to want to defend the environment and subjects it to the whims of apocalyptic doomsayers. It propounds a secular eschatology that dictates a consensus and condemns those who may not agree. Many in the climate change movement see environmentalism primarily as a pillar of their Marxian quest to uproot the social order. Their ideas are not rebuttable nor their terms negotiable.

Commitments to the climate issue seem to supersede the need to consider possible viable remedies for socio-economic ailments. But the government’s tables for the Community Well-Being Index released last May indicate that, since most First Nations live in remote locations, their hope for economic advancement lies in the opportunities that the development of national resources provide.

In his research for the Fraser Institute, scholar and author Tom Flanagan shows that, despite evidence that the well-being of the average First Nations community has steadily improved, the gap between them and other Canadians had widened again by 2016, making it almost equal to what it was over 30 years ago.

When it comes to pipelines, Flanagan rightly points out that the opportunities derived from them allows Indigenous people to reap the full benefits of their consultation rights. The natural resource sector can offer high wages and benefit agreements can provide hundreds of millions of dollars to improve living standards; the Coastal GasLink project could mean millions of dollars in contract employment opportunities. Moreover, he demonstrates that the constant blocking of pipelines makes the right to consultation meaningless as it sacrifices the material betterment of people to the desires of the few.

Climate ideologues have been influenced by the likes of Maurice Strong, a Canadian socialist entrepreneur who essentially founded the climate change cause at the United Nations. Ardently believing in the idea of world government as being the most efficient way to save humanity from climate change and the greedy overlords who cause it, Strong’s vision has underpinned the famous U.N.-sponsored Earth Charter and ambitious initiatives such as the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement—both of which have ultimately had little effect, due to the dogmas and empty objectives that pervade them.

Both of these tout sustainable development, which suggests economic growth and environmental betterment are inseparable, but can’t get around the problem of developing countries naturally choosing economic growth over any serious environmental commitments out of national interest. The solution, then, is to have the West atone for past climate crimes and put forth the necessary cash to transfer to developing nations, even though countries like China surpass much of the West in emissions and continue to use bugaboos such as coal.

Meanwhile, there has been an ongoing effort to stifle one of Canada’s most prized industries in service of climate policies like achieving the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Due to the untenability of a lot of what comes out of the climate change obsession, especially as it relates to the crucial matter of Indigenous reconciliation, this is not a prudent approach—neither for the national economy nor First Nations.

Shane Miller is a political writer based in London, Ontario. Follow him at @Miller_Shane94.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.