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CME responds to conflicting reports on oil sands development

Published by Stephanie Brooks on May 30, 2012

A report coming from Alberta environmental think-tank, The Pembina Institute, released today claims the “oil sands fever” Canada is suffering from creates clear winners and losers in the economy.

Called “In the Shadow of the Boom: How oil sands development is reshaping Canada’s economy,” Pembina says this “uniquely Canadian strain” of Dutch disease threatens Canada’s international competitiveness in the emerging clean energy economy.

The Institute is advocating a series of measures to deal with the growing imbalance that favours commodity-based provinces at the expense of Ontario and Quebec. 

CME’s vice president of global business policy, Jean-Michel Laurin, says there are flaws in the Institute's assessment and that the real issue is how we can work together as a country to maximize the economic benefits coming from oil sands development, both in the short and long-term.

Meanwhile, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute of Ottawa argues Canada's oil and gas industry is distributing the wealth by using the revenue from exports to buy goods and services from the rest of the country. It says the entire country benefits from the oil sands, and also from manufacturing pipelines and other oil and gas industry equipment.

“No Dutch Treat: Oil and Gas Wealth Benefits All Parts of Canada” argues that while the so-called ‘Dutch disease’ concept may operate, in practice it is “partially (perhaps more than fully) offset by the gains to the overall Canadian economy.”

Laurin says the discussion needs to be moved away from the resource sector versus the environment, and to ‘how do we maximize the benefits coming from oil sands development?’ “A more worthwhile debate involves thinking of how to ultimately accrue benefits for manufacturers in the long run.”

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