Today I delivered a speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto and laid out my views on Canada’s resource development, but my message was one for all Canadians: that now, more than ever, we have a need for national leadership to guarantee that Canada becomes a responsible, sustainable, innovative energy and economic success story.
The federal government has a vital role to play in promoting development in all regions, balancing growth across the country and refusing to embrace the ideologies of extremes. Unfortunately, under the Harper Conservatives, there has been no national vision and no federal leadership. In this vacuum the conversation has become polarized, and if we are not careful, Canada will get left behind.
In this speech I underlined the importance of what many Canadians already know; specifically, that we need the federal government to act as a catalyst to bring provincial, territorial, municipal and Aboriginal governments to the table, and lead essential discussions on clean technology, foreign ownership, carbon-pricing and sustainable development of the oil sands. In addition, we need to engage in a full partnership with Aboriginal peoples if we are to break down the marginalization and poverty that has unfortunately become a persistent problem.
Canada’s resource wealth – and the oil sands in particular – is a great advantage, but like anything, risks being exploited for short-term gain and then squandered. This is where the federal government must work with its partners across the country to ensure that the speed of development keeps a human pace – and that we are able to create sustainable jobs and communities in conjunction with sustainable resources. We must also guarantee the full participation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people from the outset in order to achieve success in all resource development projects.
Above all, Canadians need and deserve a sensible, thoughtful discussion – free from partisan rhetoric – that reflects our shared desire to see our resource wealth developed responsibly.
The time for this discussion is now. While some prefer to opt for simple slogans, like “Dutch disease,” “energy superpower,” or “job killing carbon tax,” I remain confident Canadians understand the immense repercussions if climate change is further ignored. Let us join together in our aim for Canada to be a leader, not a laggard, in making energy production deeply sustainable.
As Canadians, we see the promise and potential in resource development, but we want a government that is an active partner with the provinces and balances environmental stewardship, science and development. Nothing less than the future of our economy is at stake.
I look forward to continuing this national conversation with Canadians over the coming months.