Pipeline debate: We’re forgetting about the sources of our wealth – by Harris Fricker (Globe and Mail – June 6, 2017)


Harris Fricker is president and CEO of GMP Capital Inc.

Canada is the envy of the world in terms of our commitment to refugee rights, education, universal health care and world-class infrastructure. The wealth of the human experience in our country underpins our status as one of the most desired destinations for immigrants the world over.

And yet, increasingly, I find myself asking: “What will be the continuing source of this societal wealth?” Most Canadians, including me, cherish the society we have been able to build; but, as with anything of value, the benefits come with costs.

More and more, the debate about what we want in our future as a society is void of any discussion of the means to fund this future and the inevitable decisions and concessions that this funding entails.

Canada has a population of 36 million people, compared with 39 million in the state of California. We are the 37th most populated country on Earth – behind countries such as Poland, Colombia and South Korea. And yet our land mass ranks second in the world – well behind Russia and just ahead of the United States. In other words, this is a really, really big country with very few people. Not typically an equation for great wealth creation.

And yet Canada is a member of the G7 – a collection of the most advanced economies on the planet. Inevitably, much of that status is a result of our sharing a border with the world’s largest economy and the wealth arising from trade between the two countries. But the real source of our wealth as a country is quite simple: We are a small population sitting atop one of the world’s great bounties of resource wealth.

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