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Building a Balanced, Sustainable Economy in North America and Around the World: A Conversation with Thomas Mulcair

March 13, 2013

Thomas Mulcair, leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and Leader of the Official Opposition, addressed the North American economy through the lenses of climate change and foreign investment.  Canadians are keenly aware of the threat that global warming poses to the environment and to their economy.  Natural resources are at the center of the debate to combat global climate change.  The future of Canada’s natural resource sector depends on access to the global market, which in turn depends on the global demand for Canadian resources and the world’s assessment of how Canada develops those resources.  The critical question, then, is whether development is sustainable.  To ensure that resources are developed responsibly, the government must undertake full, credible, and public consultations and give First Nations a significant stake in this critical conversation.

Mulcair spoke of his reservations about the current Conservative government, criticizing its current environmental record.  Conservatives on the unelected Senate killed legislation requiring binding carbon emissions targets for all industries in Canada.  The Canadian government has eliminated the environmental assessments necessary to guarantee a “basic level” of sustainability.  By removing these monitoring mechanisms, it is difficult to ensure the sustainability of Canadian resources.  Going forward, policies affecting the natural resource sector must be pragmatic and be based upon an accurate record.

Investment policies must also be pragmatic.  Warning of a Chinese energy takeover in Canada, Mulcair explained how the government has ceded its control over natural resource policy to a foreign state.  In the past two years, state-owned Chinese companies, including PetroChina and Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), have invested $25 billion in Canada’s gas and oil sectors.  FDI can be a tremendous benefit to the Canadian energy sector, but only if this investment is done carefully – guaranteeing certainty for investors and the defense of national interests – so the Canadian government must carefully manage this investment.

Finally, Mulcair reiterated that the Canada-U.S. economic relationship is a modern and dynamic one in which both countries have benefitted.  Mulcair warned, however, that the U.S. budget deficit will adversely affect Canada, and he asserted that sequestration and austerity are not solutions to the fiscal challenge.  Mulcair voiced opposition to Keystone, arguing it will cost Canada 40,000 jobs.  To get their economies back on track, the governments of Canada and the U.S. must commit to “principled leadership” and hold themselves accountable to the demands of the people.

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