Mount Pleasant Don Thurston

Geraldine from Mount Pleasant Summarizes the Economic Summit

Geraldine’s communiqué is extensive and includes an excellent review of the Canadian economy. What follows is a brief summary.  A complete report is now posted on the Mount Pleasant Observer’s website.

A fulsome Canadian economy requires these ingredients;

  • A well trained work force
  • A modern and efficient infrastructures . Road, rail, air and communication systems are vital.
  • Post Secondary Education and Research play a significant role in all industrialized nations.
  • The population’s physical heath occupies a very important position in enhancing productivity.
  • The business community needs a regulatory system that levels the playing field.
  • An entrepreneurial society is vital
  • A process to protect intelleictual property along with a sound patent system
  • A well functioning capital market

Eugene Forsythe completed the proceedings with provocative thoughts. He observed that for more than 500 years, the  northern part of North America  has provided a cornucopia of resources to the global economy including fish , whales, animal pelts,  forest products, precious metals, minerals, grains, oil, gas, coal and electrical energy.  Dr. Forsythe knows that there is money to be made in doing mostly what you do the best, a large part of which is resource exploitation in Canada.

Now Energy is the go to commodity and Canada has a lot of it in many forms including oil, gas,  hydro electric, nuclear and coal.  He posed again the oft repeated question of how to maximize the economic potential of resource exploitation?  What is the combination of factors such that the Canadian economy can prosper, be globally competitive and diversify all at the same time?

There are several good examples of these combinations.. In the early 1900s the government of the day ruled that timber processing be done in Canada. It required that exports comprise a significant component of sulphite pulp for news paper production.  This resulted in the manufacture of forest products in Canada rather than the export of logs.

Petrochemical production provides two contrasting examples. Methanol was successful early on because of  the availabiliy of low cost natural gas in Western Canada. Eventually  the plant was closed down,  as land locked shipping costs increased. In contrast ethylene thus far is a profiable product because of ethane availability and a government requiremenact of extraction fom natural prior to its export.

A current project is nickel at Voisey’ Bay which is maximizing the long term return to Canada. Heavy oil up graders are a forth example of Canadian value added initiatives. On a broader scale the Canadian Pacific Railway and the trans Canada natural gas pipeline  exist today because of some intervention  for the greater Canadian good.

So is there a best approach? Dr. Forsythe made the point that the best  route is to treat each investment  opportunity on its own merits without recourse to an all or nothing approach  Log processing, nickel mining and refining, petrochemical production, synthetic crude refining, and national infrastructure projects have all proved to be worthy initiatiatives,

Thanks for reading!

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