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MP Report by Bob Zimmer

Responsible Natural Resource Development – A Practical Point of View

I would like to take this opportunity to discuss an important issue that affects BC and all of Canada: natural resource development. Recent debates surrounding our natural resources have become quite polarizing, with some using the approach, “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.” In other words, if an individual uses fossil fuels, then that individual is ‘against’ the environment and if an individual doesn’t use fossil fuels then they are ‘for’ the environment. There are several problems with this argument and I challenge all of us to take a practical, rational and honest approach to this debate.

First, I would argue that all of us care about the environment. Like many of you, I have a family and I want my children to breathe clean air and drink fresh water. We recycle our used plastic, aluminum cans, cardboard, and paper. We recently purchased a more fuel-efficient vehicle and we use CFL light bulbs, making sure we turn off lights when we’re not in the room. Like most Canadians, we are doing our part to be good to the environment. We also enjoy the outdoors. When our very busy schedule will allow it, we like to camp, ride our bikes, fish and golf. We appreciate and enjoy our natural surroundings as most Canadians do. We are for the environment.

At the same time, I also support the responsible development of our natural resources. In today’s society, ALL British Columbians and Canadians use oil, gas, and other natural resources. Practically speaking then, in order to utilize these resources we need to develop them.

We all use products that are either made from, or manufactured using oil, gas, and other natural resources – more so than you may realize. We all know the obvious oil products like gasoline, motor oil, and bitumen, as well as the natural gas used to heat our homes and the wood to build them. But there are many other resource-based products that utilize plastic (an oil product), steel (metallurgical coal), and glass (natural gas is required for production) that I would argue would be virtually impossible to live without. Eyeglasses, telecommunications towers, hospitals, houses, wastewater pipes, satellites, cell phones, laptop computers, televisions, buses, cars, light bulbs, electrical wire, cooking utensils, stoves, paper, concrete, windows, tents, pens, medical equipment, ambulances, wheelchairs, tires, hospital beds, bicycles, ipods, smartphones, hip replacements and toilet paper are all made using natural resources. And these are just a few examples. As you can see, if we were to remove all products that are manufactured with oil, gas, or other natural resources there wouldn’t be much left.  

In Ottawa, I hear from the NDP on a regular basis that natural resource development is bad and that we need to stop all development. The problem with the idea of stopping the development of oil, gas and other natural resources is that those proposing it are users of these same resources!

I, as do many of my parliamentary colleagues, regularly travel to and from Ottawa on planes powered by jet fuel. It isn’t as fun as you may think, but a necessary part of the job. Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party, and many BC NDP Members of Parliament who openly support a moratorium on natural resource development, often get on the same flights that I do and use buses, taxis or other vehicles while in Ottawa. They have vehicles back in their riding and have all the same amenities that you and I do (i.e. running water, heat in their homes, etc.).

How can someone support a moratorium on natural resource development while at the same time utilizing these products on a daily basis? To me, this is an untenable position. To use natural resources and at the same time oppose their development is hypocrisy and it simply won’t work.

It would be like having an individual leading a movement against smoking and the manufacturing of cigarettes go home every night and smoke a cigarette…it simply doesn’t make sense.

That is why we need to have a practical and honest perspective when discussing our environment and natural resource development in BC and Canada. We all need to realize that we need natural resources to function in today’s society. Therefore, we need to develop them, but we must do so responsibly. Our “Responsible Resource Development” plan seeks to do this. We want to be good stewards of the environment and our natural resources so that all Canadians can enjoy the benefits of both. Responsible Resource Development – it is the practical point of view.

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