THE GLOBE AND MAIL – Why Canada should be the home of ecologically-responsible natural resources

Lorraine Mitchelmore is chair of the Resources of the Future Economic Strategy Table and former president of Shell Canada.

The expression “can’t see the forest for the trees” could have been coined by a typically modest Canadian.

It summarizes perfectly much of our current attitude to the embarrassment of riches that constitute our natural resources: our vast forests, our wealth of metals and minerals and our diverse reserves of energy that make us a top producer in many categories.

We have commodities that would be the envy of any other country in the world. And yet, for a variety of reasons, we seem determined not to take full advantage of them. We are not building as many projects as we should, we are not attracting our share of global capital, we are not fully reaching global markets and, in certain cases, we are selling our products at significant discounts to the benefit of other countries.

As a result, the resource sector is not generating the level of wealth for Canada in the form of taxes, royalties, community investments, jobs and business opportunities of which it is capable.

Given the world’s growing demand for more resources that are produced more responsibly, the greatest contribution Canada can make to meeting global demand and achieving a lower carbon economy is not to move away from resource development. Instead, it’s to produce the cleanest mining, forestry and energy products, including hydrocarbons, to displace less responsible alternatives around the world, the way LNG Canada will lower global carbon emission by displacing coal in China.

In other words, we have a tremendous opportunity.

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