Op-Eds

My flight back west was delayed at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, and I got talking to a Calgary banker, who was also homeward bound after a circuit around Bay Street. “Capital is thin right now,” she said. “Upstream investment for Canadian oil and gas is just a no-go: It’s not a matter of risk premium. No one knows how to price the politics.” Investment in Canada’s resource sector fell dramatically in the past four years and the outlook for new projects remains depressed. Ottawa has proposed an overhaul under Bill C-69 of the federal environmental assessment for major capital projects, and our Senate is now scrutinizing the legislation. In a report published on Thursday by the C.D. Howe Institute, Alberta’s former deputy...
Which is the most innovative city in Canada? You might be surprised to know that Calgary has now taken the lead on that front, as measured by one of the most common ways of gauging innovation — patents. Calgary has now surpassed the likes of Ottawa and Waterloo in terms of patents per capita. And yet, the Alberta city's rise has happened without the fanfare that accompanied the ascent of the country's previous tech hubs in Ontario. This is the untold story of how Calgary quietly rose to become Canada's innovation leader. It's a story that doesn't have a central character. Unlike the tech booms of the past, there's no Blackberry or Nortel dominating the scene. Rather, it's a multitude of players in the oil and gas industry...
We all know the Trans Mountain saga by now. Kinder Morgan wants certainty by May 31 on being able to proceed with its proposed pipeline expansion from Alberta to the B.C. coast. If not, it threatens to walk away, stranding Alberta’s oil. The federal government has committed to making the project happen, and has just the shiny new tool to help: the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Ottawa, which approved construction, said it will use “all tools” available to get the pipeline built. The Alberta government has even mused about buying the project from Kinder Morgan. Both governments want to see it completed, for good reason. A new pipeline to tidewater will increase the price Canadian oil fetches because of the Alberta supply glut, and...
Opinions on pipelines are flowing around Canada more quickly than the oil. The ultimate decisions on natural resource projects, however, ought to derive from facts. As an economist studying income inequality over the last 15 years, I can offer a key fact to the debate. In my view, nothing has contributed more than natural resources to buttressing the Canadian middle class against the rapidly changing global economy of the 21st century. The importance of resources to middle-class incomes is most clearly seen by looking at a simple measure: the earnings of the middle worker in the economy (the median). Between 2000 and 2015, Canadian median earnings rose by just 6 per cent after inflation, or less than half a per cent a year....
The federal government announced sweeping new legislation on Thursday that will govern how it will consider major energy projects. Exactly how the new legislation will affect the sector will become apparent as parliamentarians, energy companies and the public dissect and debate it. No matter what, the legislation is a step forward in the long-simmering debate over how to review a major interprovincial pipeline application. The announcement addresses the problem that has had the largest cost on the competitiveness of Canada's energy sector. One after another, government policies are piling on to affect the competitiveness of energy producers in Western Canada. Much attention has been paid to carbon taxes, but a lack of market access for...