By Christopher Sallie
AIMS on Campus Fellow
Last Fall, the Canadian Government announced the approval of pipeline projects that will bring oil and gas resources to tide water, securing access to new markets for our natural resources. Expected to create thousands of jobs in Alberta along with spin-off economic benefits across Canada, this was good news for the Canadian economy still gripped with sluggish economic growth amidst international uncertainty. Meanwhile, opponents of this plan maintain this announcement signals the abandonment of previous commitments towards balancing the needs of the environment alongside the economy; some have stated that they will take action against any developments in this sector.
In this decision, we see the Canadian Government strike the appropriate balance between economic and environmental considerations; with an understanding on how free market capitalism is a crucial element of liberal democratic principles. Responsible governments serve a purpose towards regulation in preventing exploitation, ensuring that human rights are held in the highest regard with property and civil rights at the centre.
Recent political developments across the western world have indicated a populist shift towards pre-WWII isolationist policies, which can only serve to impede economic growth and free enterprise. In Canada, now is not the time to abandon our principles on trade and economic growth but to champion them further. We must reject protectionist policies that attempt to control the market and decide what is in the best interests of free society. If the Canadian government were to acquiesce towards small, yet vocal, demands that they ban all natural resource extraction, we would be throwing economic basics out with the bath water. In societies that operate freely, it is the consumer who picks the winners and losers – not government.
The science on climate change is undeniable and we need to finally come to terms with the facts on the issue, especially when it comes to our political leadership. If we are truly concerned with the impacts of climate change then it is us, the consumer, who hold the future in our hands and it is through choice that we can chart a new path towards a healthier environment. It is up to us to decide that we will no longer purchase products, that we exercise our ability to freely choose products. Thankfully, our free society places great economic power in the hands of consumers.