Column: Where does the money go?

Many Middle East countries are rich because of oil, but Canada has many other valuable natural resources beside oil. Why are we so poor?

Many Middle East countries are rich because of oil, but Canada has many other valuable natural resources beside oil. Why are we so poor? – Gabriel Yu

Why indeed.

The warm-up days of the federal election campaign are over and the parties are getting into the nitty gritties. I’d like to know what they have in mind to ensure we get full value from our natural resources. Why are we so broke our governments can rarely balance their budgets? Where does the money go?

According to a Wall Street analysis, Canada is the fourth richest resource country in the world. Much of our wealth is in fossil fuels but we have phosphate galore, the world’s second largest proven reserves of uranium and the third most available timber reserves. We ‘re No. 3 for aluminum, No. 4 for Nickel and we have plenty of copper, gold and diamonds. Doesn’t anybody want our stuff? Or are we giving it away?

Norway isn’t a Middle East country but it has oil, and according to reports it has close to $1 trillion (yes, that’s a “t” ) stashed in reserves. We have debt.

We also have new issues. On Monday the Fort Nelson First Nation won a mega legal challenge against the BC government and Nexen Inc., an upstream oil and gas company. The Environmental Appeal Board has cancelled the company’s license for shale gas fracking in the Horn River Basin, effective immediately.

Issued in 2012, the license allowed Nexen to pump millions of cubic meters of water each year from Tsea Lake in FNFN territory. After three weeks of hearing expert reports, scientific literature, etc. the EAB rejected the license because it found the science behind it was fundamentally flawed in both concept and operation, and the Province had breached its constitutional duty to consider the potential adverse effects on FNFN.

Once Canada’s third largest oil company, Nexen is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Beijing-based CNOOC Ltd.

Question: Can Nexen sue under FIPA?

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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