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Why Is the Dualistic Nature of the Territorial North's Population and Economy Important to the Region's Growth and Development?
The development and growth of Canadian Territorial North has always been determined and will continue to be by four main features: vast territory and resources, cold environment and majority of Aboriginal people that have political and social implications for the region. The Territorial North is a unique and fundamental part of Canada in consideration of its contribution to the national Canadian identity and progress of the country. However, it is a paradox that so rich in natural resources region of Canada can be so slow in development.
The theory that has been used to explain the development and progress in the Canadian North is dualism, which involves the coexistence of two societies and therefore two economies, in which each group exhibits distinctive cultural characteristics (Usher, 1987). In other words, the contemporary North of Canada is represented by the combination of two different natures, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, which share the common responsibility for the region’s future. More precisely, two different perceptions exist, North as a resource hinterland and as a homeland (Bone, 2014). While southern non-Aboriginal Canadians tend to support the first idea, extracting and utilizing the mineral resources in the Canadian North, Aboriginal Canadians are interested in preserving the nature and preventing its depletion. These two visions produce a powerful social flow and place the “duality” stamp on the specifics of Territorial North’s regional growth. As a result, the devolution of political power from the federal to the territorial government occurred and six land claims agreements with First Nations have been signed, the most recent was the Tlicho Agreement in 2003 (Bott, 2006).
Today’s Territorial North is a region of the dual models of production: traditional, which is mainly associated with Aboriginal northerners and industrial of non-Aboriginal Canadians. The industrial economy as the leading commercial force relies on Energy and Mining, namely gas and diamonds, and its export to world markets (Government of Nunavut, 2014). In contrast, the traditional economy is oriented on the natural resources of land and water and represented by hunting and fishing economy. Nevertheless, the traditional and industrial modes of production are separate economic systems that have a close relationship between themselves. For instance, Aboriginal people earn wages through employment within the modern mode of production, operate businesses and obtain state funding through transfer payments. As Bone (2014) suggests, some of this money is used to support the traditional economy, mainly because of its cultural significance to the First Nation.
However, in the long-run perspective, this industrial resource-oriented economy isn’t able to provide stability and prosperity for the region due to the exhaustion of mineral and petroleum deposits with time. In the reality, such industry is very vulnerable to risks, for example – Mackenzie Gas Project, and constantly requires huge capital funding from the center. The recently appeared multinational company’s mega projects with the cost more than one billion dollars made important contributions to the industry of the North, providing a boost for regional economy (Natural Resources Canada, 2015). On the one hand, these mega projects are the engines of economic growth of the region, on the other hand, they disturb the natural environment and provide few jobs for Natives, who often does not have the necessary education and experience for the employment (Government of Nunavut, 2014).
Hence, the challenge facing the Territorial North nowadays is to generate sufficient economic growth and to create an Aboriginal labor force with appropriate education and experience for employment needs of the companies and governments. When it is achieved, the Territorial North’s economic dependency on Ottawa would diminish. At the same time, the dualistic Territorial North, while blending Western and Aboriginal ways, would create a homeland accepted by all its residents.
What Factors Have Created BC “A Powerhouse within Canada”?
According to Bone (2014), British Columbia remains a leading region in Canada due to its economics, trade and population power, which make BC call the “powerhouse” within the country. De-facto, province represents 10 percent of all Canada’s territory and 13 percent of its population, but de jure, the future of all Canada’s prosperity more or less depends on the region’s progress (British Columbia, n.d.). The factors that provided such a situation of BC within Canada are as follows.
1) Favorable location. BC is located at the very western edge of Canada on the Pacific coast, neighboring USA and expanding economies of Pacific Rim countries, which is especially advantageous for global trade. While BC lies far from the economic and political heart of the country, Canada becomes more and more dependent on its vital transportation role between Asia and North America. British Columbia’s scenic beauty every year supports vibrant tourist industry, which basically relies on the province’s natural beauty and resources like ecotourism, skiing, hiking, sailing and kayaking or canoeing. BC’s landscapes attract not only lots of tourists from outside of Canada, but also film-making industries, which made Vancouver a new “Hollywood North” and helped to diversify the province’s budget income.
2) Natural resources. BC has a great deal of natural deposits, which provide the basis of the province’s wealth. These resources include minerals, heavy and non-ferrous metals, energy reserves of oil and natural gas and ocean-supplies (British Columbia, n.d.). The forests of British Columbia, covering about 2/3 of the region’s land mass, represent one of the key natural resources available within the province, which is used as export product all over the world. In fact, the recently found massive natural gas deposits and bitumen reserves in the Western Sedimentary Basin have sparked plans for pipelines to the Pacific. In the long-run, if developed these energy resources could reach Kitimat by pipelines and then would be shipped to Asian markets by LNG or oil tankers, which would make Vancouver the leading transportation center between Canada and Pacific Rim countries (Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, 2014).
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3) Trade and economy. British Columbia is an emerging giant within Canada’s economic system (Bone, 2014). In 2014, the share of BC in Canada’s GDP was 12,12 percent, proving the significance of the province’s economy within the country (Statistics Canada, 2014). Since 2001, BC’s rates of economic and population growth have outnumbered the national figures (British Columbia, n.d.). The region’s economy is heavily based on its natural resources and its export together with resources produced in Western Canada, namely potash, coal and grain for the growing market of Pacific countries and US states. Lumber, coal, gas and pulp are the four main exports of the province.
Possibly, soon this list will be added by bitumen from Alberta oil sands. Already the Trans Mountain pipeline carries crude oil to Greater Vancouver, from where it is shipped by supertankers to US and Asian markets. BC’s imports, especially from China, Japan and South Korea, come to Vancouver to be spread across all Canada’s markets. In other words, the trade opportunities between BC and the population of 2,5 billion people in the Pacific nations are almost endless, that only strengthen the province’s position within Canada.
4) Population. As Bone (2014) noted, the population is a measure of political power. From this derives the inference, that the larger population the province has, the stronger influence it presents on Ottawa. The BC’s population continues to increase more rapid than other Canadian provinces due to high rates of migration. As a result, BC has received more seats in the House of Commons. In turn, with more deputies the relationship between Ottawa and BC is changing. To sum up, political, economic and demographic power has shifted from the East to the West of Canada. The challenge in the relationship may occur if Ottawa approves building of the proposed oil pipelines – one to Kitiman, other to Vancouver. Because of little support among the population of BC because of the possibility of oil spills, these two projects may result in tensions between Ottawa and British Columbia.
The Current Challenges Influencing the Economy and Population of British Columbia
British Columbia’s economic growth relies on three pillars: its geographic location as Canada’s trade window to the Pacific Rim countries, its natural resources and its development of the high-technology sector. The challenge facing province’s economy mainly derives from its resource-oriented budget, which is very vulnerable to foreign demands and instabilities in the global market, typically presented by the Global economic crisis.
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The main problems are linked to forest and coal industries, production of which is heavily connected to global prices. Yet, a divide exists between urban-core BC and rural-hinterland BC, which depends so heavily on the forest industry. Like other regions, BC was hit by the global economic crisis in 2008 and its unemployment rate jumped from 4,2 per cent in 2007 to 7,6 per cent in 2009, by mid-2012 the rate had dropped to 6,6 per cent (Bone, 2014). In 2006, the US housing industry collapsed, resulting in drop of prices of Canada’s softwood lumber in twice and value of exports by 40 per cent. This sudden shift from high demand to low demand demonstrates the vulnerability and instability of the forest industry. Then, coal prices broke down with the global economic crisis, followed by a slow recovery initiated mainly by China’s strong demand for coal to satisfy its growing economy. BC coal production depends heavily on world demand for metallurgical coal used in steel mills, which vibrates according to the global economic cycle. For that reason, large-scale developments of these industries involve a considerable risk and can be made only during resource booms.
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The next challenge is demographics. According to Muzyka (2013), BC will need to rely on immigrants to meet the future needs of the labor market and the province’s economy. The cause is an aging population and declining birth rate. British Columbia tends to have the highest senior dependency ratio of all the western provinces. If not to increase the rates of labor market participants, the BC’s economic growth of 2,4 per cent in recent years is destined to fall below the average national rate of 1,6 per cent by 2035. To avoid this problem, BC needs to generate faster economic growth by implementing business innovations and applying high-technology industry to the processing of natural resources, especially its forestry products.
British Columbia also faces few environmental challenges, ranging from clear-cut logging and forest fires to the loss of agricultural land to urban and industrial sprawl. Without reasonable resource use, the future of BC’s natural wealth is under risk. The greatest threat to the environment and accordingly tourism sector represents the plan to ship bitumen by pipeline to the coast and then by supertankers to global markets, because of the possibility of oil spills, especially in the coastal water of the province. However, on the top of the list of natural challenges to the environment and economic prosperity of BC is the warming climate and consequent increase of the forest fires, which usually cause great damage to the population and the economy of the region. For example, exceptionally dry summers over the last decade have resulted in vast forest fires, forcing thousands of residents abandon their homes and flee to other places as it happened in Kelowna (2009) and Peachland (2012) (British Columbia, n.d.).