Canada has an industrial/manufacturing economy because for more than a century governments of every political stripe insisted that natural resources be processed in Canada before being exported. Thus, a forest company harvesting timber on Crown land could not simply export raw logs — it had to add value to that resource by establishing saw, pulp and paper mills in Canada. We owe the fish processing, smelting and petro-chemical industries to these policies.
But both the Alberta and federal governments abandoned this policy for one of the world’s largest resource projects, the tar sands. The raw material extracted is called bitumen — and for the first time in Canadian history, companies mining this public resource are entirely free to ship it raw to China, the U.S. or anywhere else without adding even a nickel of value.
Building the Keystone XL pipeline — if it is ever built — may employ dozens of Canadians. But upgrading and refining the bitumen will create literally tens of thousands of well-paying permanent jobs. As it stands, most — if not all — of those jobs will be created in the U.S.
Many will be aware of the U.S.-based campaign to stop Keystone XL pipeline for ecological reasons. But Canadians have another reason to oppose this grotesque sell-off of the nation’s patrimony.
Photo: Travis S. / flickr