PM on resource development: ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’

“The North’s time has come,” Stephen Harper told a crowd of about 300 Conservative supporters at a rally Monday night.


WHITEHORSE—As the classic Canadian poem says, the Yukon is where people moil for gold.

And today Stephen Harper is off to see what a more modern day version of that work looks like.

On his first full day in the North, Harper was to tour Captstone’s copper gold Minto mine, about 240 kilometres north of Whitehorse.

His visit comes after a speech to party faithful last night in the territorial capital where he extolled the development of the North’s resources as the “great national dream.”

The speech reiterated the priority the Conservatives say they’ve placed on the North since being elected in 2006.

“The North’s time has come,” Harper told a crowd of about 300 Conservative supporters at a rally Monday night.

“I tell people starting to see the activity here, you ain’t seen nothing yet in terms of what’s coming in the next decade.”

Natural resources development has also become a renewed focus of the Harper government as countries the world express eagerness to receive a greater share.

The Conservatives have set about redrawing the process for approving natural resources projects, changing regulatory requirements, including environmental assessments to what they say will just help speed the projects up.

The government says there are currently 24 projects in the North representing $38 billion in potential new investment.

Changing the environmental assessment process to require fewer reviews and limiting their scope was one of the more contentious elements of the Conservatives’ recently-passed budget. Others included changes being made to old age security and transfer payments for health care.

“Not every one of these measures is easy or is popular with everybody,” Harper said in a stump-style speech in a riding captured by the Tories in the 2011 federal election.

“But the reason we do them is they are all in the long-term best interests of this country.”

Opposition critics say that’s not the case and that local voices are being left out of the discussion of what measures are in fact in the best interests of Canada when it comes to the development of resources.

“Northerners deserve more than an annual photo op from their prime minister and hollow announcements that never materialize,” said Liberal Aboriginal Affairs Critic Carolyn Bennett in a statement.,

“It is time that the federal government listen to their concerns and serve as a true partner in addressing the serious challenges and opportunities in Canada’s North.”

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PM on resource development: ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’

  1. There is nothing wrong with development of natural resources, but it needs to be done responsibly. Mining and Oil/Gas make billions of dollars in profit every year, we don’t need to rush their projects through without proper review. That being said, perhaps it was time to modernize some of our environmental regulations, but this is not something that an economist with some Lawyer friends should be in charge of. This is best left to scientists and engineers, with the help of the economists and lawyers to make it into legal speak. Not every resource needs to be drained, and development can happen responsibly, with proper planning, social justice, and remediation.

    • It should be noted that corporations make the big bucks through expansion. So although it’s in their self-interest to develop resources as fast as possible, it’s not in the interest of people, the economy or the environment. This is where the free-market model fails. It winds up putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop. Unfortunately, Harper believes putting all the decisions in the hands of corporations will be best for the country. He is wrong.

  2. So long as we remember that “long term” for this government is “next election”, what he says makes perfect sense.

  3. Focusing exclusively on the sale of natural resources to drive economic growth at the expense of a “value added” economy seems a bit short-sighted. Let’s use some of the money from resources to build infrastructure, develop industry and educate our citizens. Canada should also be in the business of exporting things, and ideas – not just raw materials.

  4. “But the reason we do them is they are all in the long-term best interests of this country.”

    So throwing in with developing countries like Russia is in the best long-term interest of the country? While BRIC nations try to work their way up the value-added chain Harper believes the big money lies in collecting resource welfare falling down it. It’s no wonder the most use he ever got out of his masters degree in economics was a mail-room job at an oil corporation…

    Another reason his grand vision to develop the Arctic is boneheaded is because of the quality of jobs it creates. Who wants to get shipped off to Siberia to work in an open-pit mine? Are Canadians supposed to live like migrant workers leaving the family behind for long stretches to earn a paycheck? I think most of us prefer quality jobs closer to civilization.

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