The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources Keynote speech to the British Columbia Natural Resource Forum, Prince George, British Columbia.


Date: January 16, 2018

Thank you Dan.

I want to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional lands of the Lheidli T’enneh peoples.

Acknowledging Indigenous traditional lands is more than a formality. It helps to remind us that this nation’s first peoples were also this land’s first protectors.

To quote a wonderful Indigenous proverb, “We do not inherit this land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

That perspective has informed and inspired our Government’s vision for Canada in this clean-growth century and it has certainly inspired my vision for resource development.

Renewing the relationship with Indigenous peoples is central to our government’s agenda and shortly we’ll be announcing a fundamentally new approach to that relationship.

No one understands the importance of engagement with Indigenous peoples more than Canada’s resource industry. In the days ahead, I look forward to working with all of you as we flesh out this new policy and move our country farther down the path of reconciliation.

Now, like many of you, I watched my fair share of “year-in-review” and “what’s coming in 2018” programming over the past few weeks.  With the turning of the calendar from one year to the next, it’s a natural time to take stock of where we’ve been – and where we must go.

Today I thought I would give you a natural resources version, with my sense of some of the big trends that are shaping our world and changing the resources landscape.

Let me begin by making a confession: I am an unrepentant optimist.  Especially about Canada.  I’ve lived too long and seen too much, both in and outside of politics, to be anything less than optimistic about this country.

I see the challenges – in the resources industry and elsewhere – but I also see the incredible opportunities around us.  Call me an “optimist without illusions”.

As we look around the globe, there are lots of reason for hope.

The world has never been more connected, more free – and the middle class has never been as large.

What does mean to the resource industry?

It means opportunity.  It means more people wanting all of the things we take for granted here in Canada.  Which means a greater demand for everything from energy to drive their economies to forest products to build their homes to minerals and metals to run their cell phones and solar panels.

It means an explosion of innovation and invention, which is improving our lives, expanding our reach and breaking down barriers.  Making innovation not a nice-to-have, but a must-have.  In every industry.

At the same time, we meet at a moment when the world is facing one of the great challenges of our generation: climate change.  Forcing us to undergo a fundamental shift from the sources of energy that have powered our societies for generations to new, renewable sources.

That transition may be long, but the trajectory is clear.  With great implications and opportunities for resource industries.

I believe the imperative of climate change could usher in a new golden age for resources if – if – we embrace change and invest in innovation. 

That’s exactly what you are doing – as we can see just by walking the exhibition floor of this Forum.  

Anticipating trends, adapting to change and investing in innovation is also what our government is doing.

We’re making generational investments in clean technology and innovation, including more than $1 billion over four years to support clean-tech, including in the natural resources sectors.

In November, we launched a new flagship initiative called the Clean Growth in the Natural Resources Sector Program.

Its goal?  To advance emerging technologies towards commercialization, which will help natural resource operators reduce their environmental impacts while enhancing their competitiveness and creating jobs. 

To support that program, we’ve reached a number of trusted partnership agreements with provincial funders, including the B.C. Innovation Council.

In the new year alone, we’ve announced significant new investments in green infrastructure.  In electric vehicle charging stations and Smart grid technology. 

As we look at a world in transition, a world of increasing growth and rising prosperity, it’s important to prepare ourselves for success. That begins with a clear-eyed view of what’s coming at us and how we can turn those trends to our advantage.

That kind of thinking led us to launch Generation Energy, the largest engagement on energy in our nation’s history. 

We invited Canadians to imagine their energy future.  How do they expect the world to look when their kids and grandkids are grown?  What should we be doing now to get us there?

More than 380,000 people joined that conversation and another 650 people gathered to advance the discussions at a two-day Forum in my home city of Winnipeg,

It was a remarkable event, bringing together, often for the first time, energy producers and suppliers, international experts, Indigenous leaders, environmental organizations, consumers, and all levels of government.

Canadians told us they want a thriving, low-carbon economy.  They want us to be a leader in clean technology.  And they want an energy system that provides equal opportunities to Canadians without harming the environment.

They also understand that we’re not there yet.  We need to prepare for the future, but we must also deal with the present – by providing energy that they can count on when they flick on a light or fill up their cars. 

For now, that means continuing to support our oil and gas resources even as we develop alternatives – including solar, biomass, wind and tidal. 

A little more than a year ago, our government approved two pipelines – the Trans Mountain Expansion and Line 3 Replacement.

We approved these projects because they are right for Canada.  We approved them because they will create thousands of jobs.  And we approved them because we weren’t comfortable sending 99 percent of our oil and gas exports to one country. 

Our government wants to see these pipelines built as part of a sensible energy policy – a policy with a clear goal: to make Canada a leader in the clean-growth century.

How do we get there?  By using this time of transition to Canada’s advantage – building the infrastructure to get our resources to global markets and using the revenues to invest in clean forms of energy.

In other words, leveraging the fossil-fuel resources we have today to deliver clean-energy solutions for tomorrow. 

Few areas reflect the transition more than forestry, which is positioning itself to seize the opportunities afforded by a changing climate and expanding markets.

Two quick examples.

First, we’re seeing a renaissance of wood as a building material.  I had the honour of opening a new student residence at the University of British Columbia that now stands as the tallest hybrid mass timber building in the world.

This magnificent building is not only an engineering and architectural showpiece, it is an environmental game-changer — storing more than 1,700 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide and saving more than 2,400 metric tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions.  That’s the equivalent of taking 511 cars of the road for a year.

This summer, I also had the chance to tour a new eco-district in Tianjin, China – a $2.5 billion project featuring almost two square kilometres of Canadian lumber, ingenuity and expertise. 

Second, there is tremendous potential for Canada in the bioeconomy. 

We have the world’s largest reserves of biomass, which is why the Pan-Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change emphasizes the potential of bioenergy and bioproducts.

Last September, we joined with our provincial and territorial partners to endorse a Forest Bioeconomy Framework — a comprehensive approach to making Canada a global leader in the use of sustainable biomass to transform our economy.

And by putting a price on carbon, we’re helping to reduce the demand for carbon-intensive products and increase the demand for low-carbon fuels and materials, such as those based on forest biomass. 

These efforts come at a critical time — because, as this province knows better than most, the forest industry is under attack from mounting trade protectionism south of the border.

Our government’s position has been clear and unequivocal: the U.S. duties are unfair, unwarranted and without merit. 

We are vigorously defending Canadian workers by challenging the duties before the World Trade Organization and through the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

Our government also stepped up with an $867 million Softwood Lumber Action Plan, which includes loan guarantees for industry, access to work sharing programs for employees, funding to help provinces support workers, investments in forest innovation programs and access to programs that will help companies reach new markets.

Yes, the forestry industry is facing challenging times. But we also believe in its ability to adapt, diversify and innovate. We believe it because we’ve seen it.

We see similar opportunities for transformative change in the minerals and metals industry.

Today, there are more than 100 mining projects either in the planning or construction stage across Canada, representing a capital investment of about $80 billion.

Creating good jobs, sustainable growth and shared prosperity.

And the impact goes far beyond dollars and cents – the clean technology future depends on them.

Copper.  Nickel.  Cobalt. Lithium. Graphite.  Rare earth elements.  All are crucial for solar cells, wind turbines, batteries for electric vehicles and a host of high-tech gadgets.

All of them dependent on the ability of our miners to find them, mine them, and bring them to market.

Our government is supporting this vital industry through:

  • measures such as the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit and creating Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements,
  • conducting vital geoscience to help take some of the risk out of exploration and
  • developing a regulatory system based on the basic principle of “one project-one assessment.”

Where do we go from here?  

Our government, together with our provincial and territorial colleagues, is developing a Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan — an ambitious national strategy to ensure that we have the world’s most competitive, innovative, socially responsible and environmentally-sustainable mining industry. For generations to come.

Let me end as I began, by expressing my optimism about Canada’s resource industry. 

Our government sees it playing a central role at a historic moment. 

Like you, we’re looking to the future and preparing for success.  In the energy sector, through Generation Energy.  In forestry, with a bioeconomy strategy.

In minerals and metals, with a new national vision. 

In every sector, we’re seeing unbounded opportunities.  A confidence I know you share. A confidence that’s on full display here at this Forum.

Are there challenges ahead? Of course. 

But with vision and innovation and collaboration, I believe the future for Canada’s natural resources will be brighter than we can imagine.

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