Teck Resources’ decision to withdraw its application to develop the Frontier Mine in northern Alberta is regrettable.
The mine was to generate about 7,000 jobs and contribute $70 billion in taxes, as well as salaries and capital investment.
Teck’s president and chief executive officer, Don Lindsay, issued a statement urging Canada to get its act together on development priorities.
“Questions about the societal implications of energy development, climate change and Indigenous rights are critically important ones for Canada, its provinces and Indigenous governments to work through,” Lindsay wrote. “Without clarity on this critical question, the situation that has faced Frontier will be faced by future projects and it will be very difficult to attract future investment, either domestic or foreign.”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who is at times given to bloated rhetoric, this time wasn’t far off when he said, “it is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority.”
There’s more to it than that.
Environmentalists who protested the mine don’t seem to mind that while Canada is the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, the top three are Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq. None of these countries are known for their environmental commitment.
This isn’t just a Liberal issue. Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper was so fiercely committed to the Trans Mountain pipeline that his government developed a flawed process that ultimately failed in the courts. (The Liberals pretty much rubber stamped it.)
We are seeing the same, though to a lesser degree, in agriculture.
Canada has not adjusted its policy on gene editing, despite falling behind evolving policies in other countries. We want to export agri-food but we let rail blockades go on for so long that the world is bound to be wary of the uncertainty.
And the Green Party makes headway on the environment calling for smaller, organic farms and banning genetically modified organisms, which we see playing out in the public trust survey.
Canada is wrestling with its priorities right now. The balance that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seeks is commendable, but we have not found it.
We did not get to be a G8 country by constantly tripping over our own feet.