Canada: A Contradiction in the Making

by IronEclipse on October 6, 2017 - 7:08pm

As the world continues to adjust to a low-carbon way of life, Canada will continue to extract and ship an abundance of oil resources.

Yes, you read that statement correctly; after investing in ‘green’ forms of technology and implementing a series of carbon taxes, Jim Carr, the current Minister of the Environment, states that Canadian provinces will continue to extract oil, generate pipelines, and participate in a market economy that disregards the biotic and physical environment. It may seem like a complete and utter contradiction, but as illustrated within an article composed by Mia Rabson, a journalist working for the Globe and Mail, “getting more oil to the West Coast so it can be loaded on tankers and sold to China will be better for the country and getting it there on pipelines rather than rail cars is better for everyone”. In economic terms the construction of a new oil transportation service — the Trans Mountain pipeline to be exact — is an obvious bonus for the Canadian economy. The $7.4 billion dollar project, taking place between Edmonton, Alberta and Burnaby, British Columbia is speculated to produce 15,000 jobs and work towards ending a historic trade reliance with the United States.  

Despite the clear benefits of the situation at hand, one question must be raised —  at what cost will the Canadian economy be stimulated as a result of the successful construction of such a pipeline?

There is no question that Canada’s economy is important; it impacts life on a day-to-day basis. The consumer decisions we make, the transportation options we decide to use, school, employment, and even the coffee we drink each morning — some sort of fluctuation within the economy dictates every aspect of life. As such, it is crucial that this system continues to flourish within Canada, especially one that is irrevocably tied to the export of unfinished primary goods that originate from various natural sources. 

Alternatively, as a state it is Canada’s responsibility to maintain environmental integrity, conserve valuable ecological areas, and manage resources in an efficient manner. Refusing to further diversify the economy and commit to sustainable or ‘green’ forms of technology is not only negligent, but furthers Canada’s continued relationship with what is known as the staples trap. This form of resource exploitation is ingrained within Canadian history. Before Canada’s booming oil industry dominated all economic activity today, colonialists originating from Europe sought to export large quantities of fish, lumber, and minerals such as nickel, potash, and uranium away from Canadian shores. The continued transfer of unfinished or raw materials endures and will continue to set the pace for dramatic boom and bust cycles for generations to come if the Canadian government does not commit to distinctive economic changes.

The transport of Canadian oil to China can wait. It is more important to reduce uncertainty and therefore risk by exploring other sustainable profit options that do not damage the environment, interfere with Indigenous lands, and further perpetuate a cycle within the economy that promotes the continued exploitation of natural resources.


Mitchell, B. (2015). Resource and Environmental Management in Canada. (5th Edition). Don Mills: Oxford University Press.
     Don Mills: Oxford University Press.

Ropson, E. (October 9, 2017). Federal government keen on seeing Trans Mountain pipeline built. Retrieved from <