Canada Shouldn’t Stifle Indigenous Economic Opportunities With More Regulations

Canada's oil and gas emissions cap will stifle indigenous economic reconciliation COVER

Canada’s greatest gift to ourselves and the world is undoubtedly our resources - energy, food, wood, minerals, metals, wind, water, and everything in between. It doesn’t matter what set of values you have in Canada; it is crystal clear that natural resources are our bread and butter, the meat and potatoes to our livelihoods and national economy at large.

When the responsible development of our natural resources goes well, so too does our economy – and our country as a whole.

So then, it becomes a bit mind-boggling when we seem so determined to stifle new investment into resource projects by creating new and unnecessary regulations, like the oil and natural gas emissions cap.

After all, our federal government has said that we are the “only major oil producer to introduce such a cap,” like it’s a good thing. However, I beg to differ.

Oil and natural gas demand has continued to hit new record highs and will grow for many decades yet, according to any based energy analyst or organization. If that energy isn’t coming from us here in Canada, it will simply come from somewhere else.

Look at a list of other major oil and gas jurisdictions globally. You will quickly realize that the world is increasingly short of responsible producers with solid protections for human rights and the environment.

oil and natural gas emissions cap may cede Canadian energy market share to less responsible foreign producers

Today, Indigenous Peoples in Canada are included in the significant economic opportunities offered by the natural resources sector. New contracts and jobs are more abundant as Indigenous economic reconciliation is put front and centre (for the most part) by governments and companies alike by including First Nations as partners in new projects. A huge and critical shift is happening where First Nations are now involved in the responsible development of natural resources by forming partnerships and becoming business owners while changing the social acceptance of these projects in their communities.

As an Indigenous oil sands worker, it is exciting to see large-scale natural resource projects now partnering with First Nations in Western Canada. Undoubtedly, Canadians and Indigenous Peoples both held their breath as projects like Coastal GasLink and LNG Canada got off their feet.

But there are so many hurdles for any resource project to get started in our country. Investors hesitate, and rightly so, to get involved in the development of our natural resources. With a complex regulatory framework including but not limited to Bill C-69, an escalating carbon tax, strict methane regulations, clean fuel standards, and now a new oil and natural gas emissions cap, I don’t blame them.

It has become evident that we need clearer pathways, not more hurdles. New regulations, like the oil and gas emissions cap, threaten to prevent First Nations from responsibly developing the energy resources on their lands.

Indigenous People want – as most Canadians do – the opportunity to create new economic opportunities, to invest in our communities, and to preserve and cherish our cultural traditions while leaving poverty and all the issues that come with it behind. In other words, we need own-source revenues to ensure the longevity of our communities.

We need fewer hurdles to continue onwards with economic reconciliation. Responsible natural resource development is Canada's economic lifeline, and having an emissions cap will hinder us all rather than letting us grow together.

About the Authorestella petersen oil sands worker

Estella Petersen is a heavy machinery operator in the oil sands out of Fort McMurray. Estella is from the Cowessess Reserve and is passionate about Canada and supporting Canadian natural resources.

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