Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

"Arctic Energy Resources Will Be Needed" - NWT Premier Roland

Arctic Energy Resources Will Be Needed
by Floyd Roland
Published November 6 2008

Canadians right now are concerned about the economy. As our largest trading partner faces the prospect of recession, businesses and individuals in Canada are worried about what that will mean for us. The outcome of the U.S. presidential election and its consequences are also on the minds of many Canadians. And the ongoing turmoil in world financial markets has reminded us just how inter-related global affairs have become.

Policy makers, investors and governments are understandably preoccupied with the immediate crises in credit and financial markets. But amidst the chaos, it's important we keep our perspective and take a long-term view about Canada's geopolitical and economic position.

It's hard to believe, but just a handful of weeks ago the national conversation was entirely different. Canadians entered a federal election campaign facing key debates about energy and climate change. And just prior to the election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in northern Canada bringing attention to Arctic sovereignty.

These issues remain as important as ever. For despite market speculation that the world will temporarily use fewer natural resources, the fact is that over the long term, international demand for energy will continue to rise.

Nations around the world are taking steps to ward off recession and kick-start their economies. They'll need energy and resources to fuel that economic growth.

Just last week, Russia and China signed a landmark deal to build a new pipeline that will deliver 15 million tons of Siberian oil to China each year. The two powers also pledged to co-operate more closely on energy, and hailed the deal as a way of boosting economic development and stabilizing world markets. China isn't putting its growth plans on hold. It's taking advantage of lower oil prices and buying like crazy.

Other emerging economies are still eager to build larger middle classes in their countries and grow their economies. These are long-term goals that will survive today's market instability. They too will need energy and resources to reach these goals.

In the United States, the new rallying crying of "energy independence" signals America's intent to decrease its dependence on Middle East oil and increase its use of new and alternative sources. But new energy technologies are years away, and America's thirst for fossil fuel won't disappear overnight.

So, in time, the current economic turmoil and instability will pass. Once it does, economies across the world will get back to their regular business: investing in new enterprises, creating jobs, and pursuing growth.

They'll all require secure supplies of energy.

And the bottom line is that Canada's Arctic remains one of the last politically stable places on Earth that has abundant energy resources.

Canada's Arctic is also becoming increasingly accessible due to melting sea ice. This past summer, the Canadian Ice Service announced that the northern deep water route through the Northwest Passage was open once again. It was only the second time in recorded history; the first time was last year.

Our northern waters are more open to shipping, more open to exploration activity, and more open to international interest than ever before.

Countries like Russia, with a new aggressive nationalism, have started to flex muscle in the Arctic. Russia claims to have planted a flag beneath the North Pole. It's asserting territorial claims and has stepped up its presence and activities in the region.

All of this is rooted in energy: who owns it, who controls it, and who it will make stronger.

So it's important that we keep our gaze fixed on the long-term horizon. Yes, we need to navigate some choppy economic waters. Yes, we need to keep Canada on a steady economic course. But we also have to remain committed to aggressively asserting Canadian sovereignty over our northern lands and resources

Other countries aren't waiting for instability to pass before making their moves. They're seeking out and seizing opportunity in the midst of chaos. Canada should too.

Asserting Canada's northern sovereignty isn't just a political sound bite. It's an important policy approach that's needed to guard our Arctic lands, secure our natural resources, and build our northern territory for the benefit of the entire country.

It also serves as a powerful means of economic development, and can provide a helpful shot-in-the-arm for Canadian workers, businesses, industry and investors.

One of the smartest moves we could make would be to start the Mackenzie Gas Project. This project would directly secure our northern resources by developing them, constructing a pipeline, and bringing them to North American markets.

It's a massive project that will provide enormous benefits to Canadians, creating 208,000 person-years of employment across the country. It will be a project of national scope, requiring materials and services from Canadian businesses and industry across our country. That means jobs for Canadians and profitable work for Canadian companies.

The project will also contribute over $11 billion in revenues to the federal and provincial governments, helping fund important programs for Canadians like health and education.

We should also take the opportunity to invest in modern infrastructure in Canada's North. If we're serious about protecting our northern sovereignty and mitigating the effects of an economic slowdown, this is not the time to sit on our hands.

Modern infrastructure projects, including the Mackenzie Valley Highway and the Mackenzie Gas Project, will promote development and better connect our northern territory with the rest of our country.

As the Canadian Council of Chief Executives has stated, spending on infrastructure is one way to maximize the impact of improving our economic potential. Public-private partnerships might help projects happen sooner, and cheaper.

Such strategic investment will create great opportunities for Canadians workers and businesses, while advancing Canada's northern interests at the same time.

It's hard to picture a more clear assertion of our country's sovereignty over its northern lands and resources than thousands of workers building a world-class resource project and a major modern highway.

Protecting and securing sovereignty over our arctic lands and resources is an objective that requires action today. It's the right thing for our country, for our people, and for our economy. Instability in world markets will pass, but the world's need for energy resources won't. It's vital to our country's long term interests that we not lose sight of the bigger picture.

Floyd Roland is premier of the Northwest Territories.


Oilsandstruth.org is not associated with any other web site or organization. Please contact us regarding the use of any materials on this site.

Tar Sands Photo Albums by Project

Discussion Points on a Moratorium

User login


Syndicate content