by Cody Battershill

    Social License = Benefit

    The term “social license” is thrown around loosely nowadays in reference to new Canadian infrastructure projects. If you ask me, the conversation needs to be about the social benefits that natural resources bring to this country and our economy, as well as the tremendous opportunity for continued prosperity into the future.

    Today there are over 2 million Canadians employed in natural resource industries. We are ranked among the top countries in the world for a variety of important and valuable natural resources including oil, potash, uranium, natural gas, wood products, metallurgical coal, fresh water, hydro-electricity, wind power, graphite, many agricultural products, in addition to many different types of precious minerals.

    As Canadians, we readily enjoy some of the highest standards of living in the world; access to education, healthcare, economic opportunity, and countless other privileges that many worldwide don’t dream of having access to which we often take for granted.

    Among the world’s top natural resource countries, Canada out-ranks many of our peers for promoting and fostering values such as freedom of the press, speech, assembly, choice of who you marry, and has been deemed one of the best places to be a mother, to be born, and to work. Gender, ethnicity, and religious beliefs are expected to be inconsequential for a Canadian.

    If we were talking about social benefits, we would be excited that new oil sands investment could create 275,000 new jobs for our country within the next 15 years on top of the 478,000 current jobs and contribute a total of $61,000,000,000 to governments in 2025 (IHS). Our federal and provincial governments need revenue in order to provide us with the services and infrastructure we use every day.

    Instead of working towards new levels of opportunity and regardless of our world class regulatory system, we have been stalled by opposition from million dollar special-interest groups, many not from Canada, who are in fact, employing professional protesters to oppose new Canadian infrastructure, namely pipelines and ports, that would carry Canada’s resources to world markets and enable Canadians to obtain the best possible price for our resources while providing maximal social benefit for all Canadians.

    Canada’s opportunity to build liquefied natural gas export terminals on the West Coast of British Columbia would add up to 75,000 new full-time jobs with billions of dollars in revenue for British Columbians and Canadians.

    Plan Norde in Quebec, the Ring of Fire in Ontario, Shale gas in New Brunswick, and East Coast oil exploration all bring continued and immense opportunity to our great country.

    Demand for oil, natural gas, and energy as a whole is forecasted to increase significantly over the next several decades. Canada is well positioned to meet the world’s energy needs with a regulated, balanced, and responsible approach to energy development, while ensuring that we are taking care of our natural environment with the best monitoring, transparency, and continued innovation to minimize the impact of delineating our resources.

    $50,000 in lost revenue. That’s about an elementary school every 24 hours.  We are indeed losing out on the social benefits that those resources would provide for our economy and for all Canadians.

    The reality is that public transit, schools and teachers, hospitals and health care professionals, railways and roads, police officers and courts, recreational facilities, and daycare centers don’t grow on trees, but instead are all examples of the social benefits of the revenue our resources represent.

    Put another way, it has been forecasted the oil sands could add more than $1 trillion to Canada’s economy over the next few decades. That is approximately $84,000,000,000 every year and is enough money to feed 90% of Canadians!

    Instead of delaying our own resource development, we should be talking about the social license of the big-budget special interest groups that are exclusively opposing Canadian pipelines, Canadian export, facilities and Canadian resources while other countries with weaker regulation, no transparency, and inferior monitoring get a pass. Ultimately this opposition is a means to block, slow, and limit our natural resource production, and as a result, reduce our country’s economic prosperity.

    As long as the world needs oil, natural gas, and other natural resources, Canada should provide them. We should buy Canadian and promote economic development here in Canada where Canadians benefit the most. Why does Eastern Canada import oil from overseas when Canadian resources are ready to meet demand?

    Let’s instead focus on the tangible social benefits of our natural resource industry and challenge the fear and fiction promoted by those that oppose exclusively Canadian resources while ignoring and not addressing any other nation’s industrial developments.

    Canada is a leader in quality of living and environmental standards while pushing forward in industry-specific innovation, research, and development.

    We should all be Canada Proud.

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