THUNDER BAY – Leaders Ledger – It’s a pleasure to be back here in Thunder Bay with you today. I want to thank Coastal Steel officials for their warm welcome and the other stakeholders here today who support the objectives of our Government’s Plan for Responsible Resource Development.
I’d like to take this opportunity to detail our Government’s many efforts to ensure Canada’s prosperity into the future.
Last week, Thomas Mulcair went west and embarked on his big adventure, trying to back pedal from his short-sighted and flat out wrong statements about Canada’s resource industries.
He said Canada’s strong resource sector is a disease that hurts the country – and he said this of course before ever seeing an oilsands operation first hand. Folks I have seen the oilsands up close, and forestry camps, pulp mills, and mines and let me tell you Thomas Mulcair and I disagree completely – I know the importance and value of Canada’s growing resource sector.
Our government’s top priority has always been to support jobs and growth and sustain Canada’s economy. Since we introduced the Economic Action Plan to respond to the global recession, Canada has recovered and exceeded all of the output and all of the jobs lost during the recession.
Since July 2009, employment has increased by more than 750,000 and is now more than 260,000 above its pre-recession peak — the strongest job growth among G-7 countries. This is particularly reassuring for Canadians in the context of continuing uncertainty in the global economy.
IMPORTANCE OF RESOURCE SECTORS TO CANADA’S ECONOMY
Natural resources have always been the foundation of Canada’s economy. No one knows that better than the people of Northern Ontario. And that remains the case today.
Canada’s natural resource sectors employ close to 800,000 Canadians. Furthermore, the resource sectors generate billions of dollars worth of tax revenue and royalties annually to help pay for government programs and services for Canadians.
Our resource strength is set to continue to expand well into the future. We currently estimate that, over the next decade, there is a potential for at least 500 new projects and more than $500 billion in investments across the country in the energy and mining sectors alone. These projects will create jobs across Canada and will contribute substantially to our country’s economic prosperity. In fact, the numbers continue to climb as new opportunities are identified.
Now, Thomas Mulcair and the NDP Some claim the tremendous success of Canada’s resource sector has infected Canada with so-called Dutch Disease – inflating our dollar, making our exports too expensive and hurting our manufacturing sector.
It’s unfortunate that Thomas Mulcair and the NDP would look at one of the healthiest economies in the world and say it’s diseased.
The theory has been debunked again and again.
The fact is, an open investment climate is critical to jobs and economic growth for Canada. Market-based investment plays a crucial role in enabling Canada to realize its full economic potential. It allows for the transfer of knowledge, technology and skills to domestic firms and contributes to innovation, productivity and competitiveness.
There have also been suggestions from some quarters that Canada’s resource development only helps one region while hurting another. This is inaccurate and divisive.
RESOURCE STRENGTHS BY PROVINCE
Resource development – mining, forest industry, and energy projects – is happening across Canada and helping every provincial economy.
Here in Ontario, resource development is a key driver for our economy.
Energy, mining and forestry account for 6% of Ontario’s Gross Domestic Product and 4.1% of direct employment. All told, Ontario’s natural resource industries employed some 276,000 people last year.
The development of the Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario holds the potential for billions in mineral wealth.
Private sector estimates indicate that the chromite resources there could be worth as much as $50 billion. There are estimates for deposits of base metals and platinum-group metals worth as much as $10 billion. And there may also be deposits of gold, iron and other minerals in the region.
Global investors are convinced of this region’s potential. The Cliffs Chromite Project is proposing to invest up to $3.4 billion to build a 30-year open pit underground chromite mine with ore processing capabilities. Noront’s Eagle’s Nest Project is proposing to invest $734 million to construct an 11-year nickel-copper and platinum-group metals mine, also with on-site processing.
Also in the Thunder Bay area, Osisko Limited is proposing to construct the Hammond Reef Gold Mine. This $614 million project would create 465 jobs over a 14 year operating life.
This vast reserve of minerals and metals will generate jobs and economic growth in Ontario for decades to come.
Here in Thunder Bay, there are good, skilled jobs and innovative companies serving the resource sector. For example, Coastal Steel is the largest Steel Service Centre and Fabrication Facility in Northwestern Ontario.
Resource development is equally important to communities all across Canada.
In British Columbia, the focus is on exporting liquefied natural gas, or LNG, with three projects rapidly moving forward.
In Alberta, the oil sands are creating benefits across Canada, including Ontario’s manufacturing sector.
In Saskatchewan, oil, potash and uranium continue to develop with new markets eager for those resources.
Manitoba is expanding hydro-power installations to provide cheap, clean energy.
Quebec, which has long been a mining and energy giant, is moving forward with its Plan Nord, which will help unlock the economic potential of its vast Northern regions and provide tremendous benefits to the people of Quebec.
New Brunswick has large forest resources; Nova Scotia has offshore gas development; PEI is investing in renewable energy through wind; and, of course, Newfoundland and Labrador has benefited greatly from their offshore oil fields.
Last, but not least, the resources in Canada’s North and its territories are largely untapped. The extent of this resource wealth is not fully understood, but its potential is enormous.
Of course, this is only part of the story. The resource sector does not operate in a vacuum. Mines don’t appear out of thin air. They require exploration, development, construction, huge capital investments, materials, and machinery. They require workers in every sector of the Canadian economy, especially our manufacturing sector.
Jayson Myers, the President and CEO of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, strongly supports resource development precisely because it helps our country’s manufacturing sector — to quote:
“In total, we estimate that energy and resource companies invested more than $85 billion in major capital projects in 2011 and we think those investments will double over the next three years. Those investments will drive new business for Canadian manufacturers in a variety of sectors ranging from equipment, structural steel, and metal fabricating to construction materials and parts suppliers. They will provide opportunities for engineering and construction companies, processing and environmental technology companies, and services ranging from accommodation, food, environmental, and resource services, through to land management, trucking, and distribution as well.”
This type of investment will be across Canada, helping all sectors of the Canadian economy.
That’s why it’s so important to ensure that Canada has the right conditions in place to attract global investment in our provinces and territories. Canada must compete with other resource-rich countries around the world for these job-creating investment dollars.
And this is the fundamental reason why our Government is committed to modernizing Canada’s regulatory system through our plan for Responsible Resource Development.
RESPONSIBLE RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
We need to ensure timely, efficient and effective project reviews. This will keep us competitive with other resource-producing nations.
We need a system that promotes business confidence and attracts investment while strengthening our world-class environmental standards.
Here’s what this new legislation will achieve:
• First, it will make project reviews more predictable and timely;
• Second, it will reduce duplication of project reviews;
• Third, this bill will strengthen environmental protection; and
• Fourth, it will enhance consultations with Aboriginal peoples.
To streamline and modernize our outdated regulatory system, we will take a whole-of-government approach. We want to put in place a new system of “one project, one review” that operates within a clearly defined time period.
Canadians understand that we do not have to choose between economic development and the environment. It is not an either/or proposition. A new poll conducted by Ipsos Reid shows two-thirds of Canadians believe it is possible to develop our economy while respecting the environment.
The fact is, our new plan will strengthen environmental safeguards, including tanker and pipeline safety. And for the first time, it will provide enforcement of environmental assessment conditions under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It will also strengthen pipeline inspections and introduce tough new monetary penalties for violations of National Energy Board conditions on new pipeline projects.
So our changes make sense, from both an economic and an environmental perspective.
Canadians have a wonderful new opportunity before us.
The time to act is now. We have to give ourselves every chance to compete for job-creating investment dollars and to expand into the new, fast-growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere.
We also know that it is absolutely necessary that we develop our natural resources in a responsible way.
Responsible Resource Development achieves the balance needed — we will unleash the potential of our resource sector to create jobs across Canada while also ensuring strong environmental protection.
This is what Canadians expect and it’s what our plan delivers.
Tony Clement MP
Tony Clement is the President of the Treasury Board of Canada and Minister for FedNor. He has also been the Member of Parliament for Parry Sound-Muskoka since 2006.