By Letter to the Editor on June 5, 2020.
Suppose I inherit a rich uncle’s money: Common sense tells me that I should invest it, and dip into the capital only in an emergency. You live with what you earn. Savings account is for rainy days. Do not plan to live on it. Canada is wealthy thanks to natural resources. But we are taking money out of our inheritance and are living on it.
Canadians are lucky to live in a country with so much natural resources. It is the gifts from God, Mother Nature or whatever. We didn’t earn it. It was given to us. It was here when we got here. Generous original inhabitants of the land allowed us settle here to catch, extract and harvest it.
Settlers worked hard with blood and sweat to grow and raise and dig it out. However, rich soil was here to begin with. We cleared the land and put down seeds. Fossils had already been buried under our feet. What have we been doing with them? We must be grateful and treat them with respect as gifts, not entitlement.
Are we investing it for the future or are we living on it like a spoiled brat? Are we managing it, or harvesting it and driving it into extinction like we did with Atlantic cod and Pacific salmon?
I should also remind ourselves about volatility of resource markets. Unsavoury rulers of the countries like Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia often make it the weapon against us, like they are doing with oil today. We are vulnerable. We are only waiting for the tide to change direction. It’s humiliating to depend on unpredictable markets.
It’s about time we think seriously about change. Let’s stop fighting people who criticize our way of life. Everyone must try to see other’s points of view. The solution often comes from compromise. Some people argue that coal is almost limitless and oil will last many more decades. Really? I accept their point for now. We still have to buy groceries and pay mortgages while changing our way of life. It’s the cost to finance our transformation.
A resource-based economy is notoriously volatile as the current crisis in oil market testifies. Keystone XL may restart. Bitumen may start flowing over mountains. But it’s only for the measures we take while in transition. Let’s not continue to be a hostage to the unstable resource based economy.
Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui