“Our research helps frame the public support challenge and lays the foundation to build truly responsible resource industries.”– Trevor McLeod
The Centre for Natural Resources Policy
This centre champions the responsible development of the West’s natural resources. It recommends ways to rebuild pride in the resource economy, enhancing environmental performance, improving relations with Aboriginal stakeholders and increasing our role as resource service providers and innovators in the global economy.
Restoring trust in public institutions
Our public institutions are in the crosshairs; they face loud accusations that they cannot be trusted to decide what is in the public interest. Indeed, the new federal government campaigned on a promise to “modernize the National Energy Board” (NEB) and overhaul environmental assessment processes in an attempt to rebuild public trust in regulators. Restoring trust in our regulators is one of the single most important things we can do to allow us to respond nimbly to market conditions. If we get it right, we can open the door to economic prosperity across the West and the rest of Canada with a steady stream of developments that provide good jobs and taxes. If we get it wrong, it will be a long time before investors, customers and the Canadian public engage effectively with one another again. Doors will be shut. Opportunities will be lost.
Any attempt to modernize the NEB or overhaul the environmental assessment process must be built on strong evidence. The Centre for Natural Resources Policy and the University of Ottawa plan to provide this evidence. Our experienced team will identify the drivers of trust in six case-study communities while delivering evidence-based solutions that will build confidence in regulators in 21st century market conditions.
Relations between Aboriginal people and the natural resource sector
Increasingly, the success of Canada’s resource economy depends on gaining the support of Aboriginal communities – many of which exist on top of the resources. In recent years, Aboriginal communities have made tremendous gains through the courts and the doctrine of consultation and accommodation. As a result, the dominant conversation in Aboriginal communities tends to be rights-based.
Rights-based approaches wax and wane in their effectiveness, but the alignment of shared economic interests leads to immediate benefits for families and communities – benefits like improved skills, access to capital, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. In 2016, the Foundation will drive this agenda by continuing to partner with Aboriginal organizations. For example, we will work with the Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resources Centre of Excellence to find practical ways to address policy barriers to Aboriginal employment in the natural resources sector.
In 2016, climate policy will remain in the spotlight. The Centre will work with like-minded organizations to champion environmental policy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions while protecting the western Canadian economy. Specifically, our research will focus on ensuring that by pricing emissions we are not simply moving economic activity, jobs and emissions elsewhere – a tragic result that would satisfy no one.
The Centre is also contemplating research about the viability of using hydro-electricity to fuel the oil sands. Replacing natural gas and coal-fired electricity generation with hydro-electricity could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands while improving the oil sands brand. The Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) is examining the economic costs associated with building the infrastructure necessary to build the transmission lines. If funding is available, the Centre for Natural Resources Policy will provide policy analysis of the feasibility and desirability of this investment.