Prince George Free Press
Stockwell Day, former minister responsible for international trade, issued several challenges to some of the groups involved in the growing trade potential in emerging markets in Asia.
He encouraged industry leaders to work harder to get their story out in the public.
There have been huge changes over the years, he said, in everything from safety practices to extraction methods. The environment is cared for and is not only left pristine, but on occasion left in better shape than it was prior to extraction.
“In terms of restoration, we have changed so much so that there is a remarkable story to tell,” he told the crowd at the ninth annual B.C. Natural Resource Forum in Prince George Wednesday. “You have to get that story out in a stronger, better way.”
It’s up to industry, he said, to broadcast the changes and improvements that have been made over the years.
The media, he said, is very competitive, with outlets trying to get the attention of audiences, wanting to be watched, listened to or read. And though you don’t garner that audience by being boring, he said the facts don’t have to be dull and he challenged media to be factual and transparent.
Politicians and elected officials, he said, need to be aware of the effect of spending as well as government policies.
“You raise taxes and you drive out innovation,” he said.
A common sense approach to policies, like combining provincial and federal environmental processes, might alleviate some of the waiting time placed on projects, he said.
For example, it took several years for one mining venture to go through all of the reviews and processes before work could commence.
“They have to watch policies on spending and make sure the regulation process is common sense,” he said.
No one wants to be accused of not caring about the environment, he added. Many politicians fear streamlining processes then winding up marked with that sort of label. However, Day said he wasn’t talking about cutting corners, just cutting unnecessary red tape.
He challenged the public to understand that just because something is reported doesn’t mean it’s true.
He used a meeting in the north as an example, where someone claimed a pipeline would stop caribou from mating. The comment was reported by media.
Day said there are many opportunities for Canada in the Asia-Pacific markets. In China alone, over the next five years 85 million homes will be needed. In India, 200 cities will be needed.
The growth is indicative of the needs of a middle class that is expanding exponentially.
“It’s the most fantastic story in modern history The positive growth of the middle class in those two countries alone is phenomenal. You folks have an idea of the resources required to build 200 cities. Canada has those resources,” he said.
It also has stability, human rights, freedom of education and religion, and a free media.
However, if Canada lays a field of unreasonable processes between what those markets need and the natural resources this country has, those market needs will be filled elsewhere, and Canada’s social programs will dry up.
In closing, Day pointed out that, if the processes in place now were in place in the 1800s, then the Canadian National Railway uniting the country would never have been built.