Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Banking, Trade and Commerce
Issue No. 8 - Evidence - October 5, 2016
OTTAWA, Wednesday, October 5, 2016
The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce met this day at
4:20 p.m. to study and report on the development of a national corridor in
Canada as a means of enhancing and facilitating commerce and internal trade.
Senator David Tkachuk (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: I call the meeting to order. Senators, we're in a different
room today, and we'll probably be here tomorrow as well. You may want to make
note of that. It seems there was a communication breakdown with room 9 and there
is no television.
Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. My
name is David Tkachuk and I'm the chair of this committee. Today is our first
meeting on the subject of our study on the development of a national corridor in
Canada as a means of enhancing and facilitating commerce and internal trade.
We are pleased to welcome the University of Calgary co-authors of a School of
Public Policy research paper entitled
Planning for Infrastructure to Realize Canada's Potential: The Corridor
Concept. With us here is Mr. Andrei Sulzenko, who is a public policy
consultant specializing in microeconomic innovation in trade and investment
issues. Since 2005, his consulting practice has involved numerous policy-related
assignments mainly for departments and agencies of the federal government. He
has also worked for private sector organizations such as the Business Council of
Canada and for government-sponsored, private-sector-led expert panels and
advisory bodies, including the expert panels on competition policy, on private
sector innovation and on defence procurement.
Also with us is Mr. Kent Fellows, Research Associate, Energy and
Environmental Policy. Mr. Fellows is a research associate at the School of
Public Policy, University of Calgary. Kent recently completed his PhD in
economics at the University of Calgary, where his research focused on regulatory
economics and bilateral negotiations, with a special focus on the Canadian
pipeline industry. He has previously worked as a research assistant for the
University of Alberta's School of Public Health and as an intern at the National
Welcome, gentlemen. Thank you for being with us today. We are pleased to kick
off our hearings on this study with you both. Please proceed with your opening
remarks, after which we'll go to a question and answer period.
Andrei Sulzenko, Executive Fellow, The School of Public Policy, University
of Calgary: Thank you Mr. Chairman and honourable senators. We appreciate
being invited here today to appear before your committee on what we consider a
very important issue.
As you mentioned, we're the authors of the report recently published by the
School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and by our principal
research partner for this project, CIRANO, which is a research group based in
Montreal. We brought printed copies of the report for members of the committee.
First, on a bit of background, the School of Public Policy was founded in
2009 under the leadership of Dr. Jack Mintz, and its principal purpose was to
bridge the gap between academia, business and government. The school believes
that to get public policy right in Canada, it must be informed by practical and
relevant research. That mission has enabled the school to become the most
influential and cited policy school in Canada.
Under the new leadership of Professor P.G. Forest, our goal continues to be
to promote relevant, applied, peer-reviewed research to inform good public
policy, including that related to longer-term planning for Canada's
infrastructure and transportation needs.
Although Dr. Fellows and I are the authors of the report, subject to the
usual disclaimer about specific opinions contained therein, we want to emphasize
that the School of Public Policy and CIRANO consider a follow-up research
program on the issues identified in the report to be a high priority. We are
therefore here today representing the consensus view of the school and CIRANO in
that regard. Dr. Fellows is leading that effort and will describe where we are
in our planning process.
First, though, I will give the committee a brief synopsis of why we are
excited about the potential of the corridor concept and why we believe it is in
Canada's national interest to engage in a research program to pursue the key
issues identified in our initial report.
Recent developments in federal infrastructure approvals have shed light on
the challenges that Canada faces in finding the balance among competing
economic, social and environmental objectives with respect to the development of
our natural resources.
Much attention has been paid to oil and gas, but we also face foregone
opportunities with respect to mining, forestry and agriculture in terms of our
access to tidewater for exports to overseas markets.
We believe the corridor concept is a potentially viable solution to that
problem by providing a multi-modal transportation right-of-way through Canada's
North and Near North, with access to port facilities on all three coasts,
including Hudson Bay.
The main advantage of a corridor right-of-way over multiple single-issue
projects is that it facilitates a long-term, integrated approach to the
approval, construction and operation of major infrastructure. We believe that
paradoxically such a comprehensive approach may be more viable than a series of
incremental steps because it provides greater room for accommodation of diverse
In that regard, it is clearly the role of governments to develop the policy
framework for the corridor right-of-way in collaboration with interested
stakeholders. As it is a pan-Canadian initiative, it is incumbent on the federal
government to take a leadership role in developing a consensus between private,
public and indigenous participants. Through this approach, the corridor concept
should provide a climate for greater certainty with respect to the planning for
and governance of future transportation infrastructure.
In addition to significantly enhancing Canada's export potential, a northern
corridor would have many other potential benefits. I will highlight six that we
outline in our report.
One, promoting jobs and growth, and through a multi-billion-dollar investment
that over the long term will enhance regional economic development and
inter-regional commerce. This growth will also occur through improved access to
some of the largest and fastest-growing markets and will add an important
element of market diversification for Canada.
Two, creating the opportunity for indigenous Canadians to experience the
benefits of investment and economic diversification. Consultation with and
tangible benefits for indigenous people must be a key component of this
Three, enhancing the quality of life for all northerners through new
development opportunities, including tourism, lowering the cost of living,
providing reliable, lower-polluting electricity generation, and improving
connectivity and other social amenities.
Four, enhancing the quality of life for Canadians living in urban centres by
allowing for the subsequent repurposing of existing freight traffic
rights-of-way for urban and ex-urban transit or other public-good purposes.
Five, minimizing the environmental impact of transportation infrastructure
within a contained footprint and mitigating risks through efficient monitoring
And lastly, six, supporting Canada's Arctic sovereignty objectives in what we
consider the likely forthcoming period of contested interests.
Mr. Chairman, Dr. Fellows will now outline the research needed to give
decision makers the evidence base for their policy deliberations.
Garret Kent Fellows, Research Associate, Energy and Environmental Policy,
The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary: Thank you, Andrei. Mr.
Chairman, honourable senators, I would like to extend my thanks as well for the
invitation to present to this committee. This type of engagement is exactly why
we at the School of Public Policy undertake to conduct and disseminate our
Research into the concept of a Canadian northern corridor forms the
cornerstone of the National Infrastructure and Market Access research program
managed by the School of Public Policy. Outlined in our existing report is a
range of issues that require detailed evaluation to determine the viability and
desirability of a Canadian northern corridor. Our current research plan calls
for a three-year academically led process led jointly by the School of Public
Policy and our partner institute, CIRANO. The output of this process will be a
series of peer-reviewed studies on the various policy dimensions of the corridor
concept as applied to Canada.
Our research approach for this kind of research also calls for outreach
activities such as moderated round table discussions. These are periodically
held in order to collect a diverse set of opinions and expert advice as well as
discuss ongoing research. This type of dialogue is important for the quality and
efficacy of our research.
Phase one of the research program will focus on critical topics within three
core pillars of the Canadian corridor concept.
The first pillar, physical dimensions, encompasses such issues as the
geographic routing of the corridor, an estimation of the construction costs for
various transportation modes, and an examination of the engineering challenges
that will be specific to Canada's North.
The second pillar, financing dimensions, encompasses such issues as an
investment analysis to identify the economic costs and benefits and the
opportunities for infrastructure to facilitate further economic and social
development, as well as an examination of financing options for transportation
modes both with and without explicit revenue streams associated.
The third pillar, land ownership issues, encompasses such issues as
establishing ownership and prior informed consent for communities along the
planned right-of-way, and a plan for the formation of a corridor governance
structure institutionalizing collaborative decision making among governments,
indigenous communities and the private sector.
Additional research studies that are informed by the output of phase one will
follow in later phases and add focus on the socio-economic and environmental
impacts, as well as additional detail on the three phase-one pillars.
While the research will be directed and led by the School of Public Policy
and CIRANO, the program will draw on expertise of academics and professionals
from across Canada.
The School of Public Policy estimates the cost to pursue phase one of this
research agenda is $800,000. It is the school's intention to secure these funds
from various parties, including the public sector as well as the private sector
and non-governmental sources. At present, the most critical obstacle in further
pursuing this research is the lack of committed funding.
Thank you for your attention. This concludes Mr. Sulzenko's and my prepared
statement. We look forward to your questions.
Senator Black: Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here. We very
much appreciate your taking the lead hand in kicking this off. This is
important. I have a myriad of questions, but the chair is not going to allow me
to ask them all, so I want to focus in on this initially.
You indicated, Dr. Fellows, the three pillars, you called them, of research,
so the issues will fall out of that, and that sounded comprehensive. What do you
believe are the key issues for the Government of Canada?
Mr. Fellows: I think the governance structure, obviously, just being a
government role. We tend to think about infrastructure projects as very physical
projects, shovels in the ground, actually constructing the infrastructure. With
something like the northern corridor concept or the corridor concept in general,
the governance structure is a critical component because you have many diverse
geographical regions and many diverse individual interests. To govern it
properly, I think it's incumbent on the federal government to take a leadership
role in coordinating those interests, but not trying to direct those interests.
Mr. Sulzenko: One thing I would add to Dr. Fellows' remarks is that,
sitting where we are today, without, of course, having done the follow-on
research, I find it difficult to imagine how a project like this, even in its
planning stages, could go ahead without significant leadership from the federal
This is a pan-Canadian project. This fits within the trade and commerce power
of the Government of Canada. I would be hard pressed to imagine how much
progress could be made without the active participation of the government. I
would be maybe one step beyond where my colleague is on that.
To put it differently, if the federal government were not interested, then I
don't see how this could possibly go ahead.
Senator Black: We're here today, so we should take this as some
You made a very interesting statement, that we're very aware of the lost
economic advantages to Canada because of the inability to get oil, principally,
to tidewater. You alluded that you believe, if I understood you correctly, that
there is also an economic loss being suffered by Canada for the same reason in
forestry and agriculture, and maybe potash, I don't know.
Do you have data to support that?
Mr. Sulzenko: I'll turn to my colleague for the question, because I
think in the time available in developing a concept paper, which this is, we had
pretty good data on oil and gas because it's been so topical, for obvious
I think more research would be required for the other commodity sectors, but
I'll turn it to Kent on that because he has delved more into that.
Mr. Fellows: With respect to different commodities, oil and gas is
easy to point to because it's very easy to get hard data on hard constraints. If
you look at the reports annually, the National Energy Board does a report that's
their transportation system assessment, and they will tell you exactly what the
nominated volumes are. These are the volumes of oil that individual shippers
want to ship on the pipeline. They will tell you exactly what those nominated
volumes are, and they will tell you the actual volumes, and you can see the
difference there. So they have to ration that pipeline capacity both for oil and
With other commodities, for example, forestry or agriculture, the constraints
tend to be a little bit softer because they're using more flexible modes. If we
look at rail, it's hard to have a finite constraint on the rail system because
you have a combination of the fixed stock in terms of the rail line and the
Is there data on that? We have not done an in-depth investigation on that
Senator Black: Intuitively, you believe that.
Mr. Fellows: Intuitively. I think beyond that, even if there aren't
hard constraints, there is a case to be made that congestion on the current
system tends to disadvantage all shippers, because you're losing money in how
long it takes to transport from whatever the source region is to a coastal port
or to an export partner, so the more congested that system is, the higher those
The Chair: Before I go on to the other questions, if you could just go
through the rationale, which you do so well in your paper, but for the purposes
of people watching it would be good if you could give us a short summary of
that, and then we'll get onto the questions, if you don't mind.
Mr. Sulzenko: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman, the rationale for the project
as a whole?
The Chair: Yes.
Mr. Sulzenko: I'll make an attempt at that.
The Chair: I know you will.
Mr. Sulzenko: What prompted us to initiate the study in the first
place was what we just discussed, which was that Canadian exports were suffering
from lack of access to tidewater to third markets coupled with growing concerns
about access to the U.S. market, which is our traditional market for most
So we believe this whole notion of export diversification is one we should
pursue as a country. That's where the growth is, but we do have some serious
constraints, and it will vary, of course, by mode and by product. But we believe
that's where the growth is over time, and there are huge foregone opportunities.
Now we have to measure those more carefully, but we believe they're
substantial, and if Canada is engaging in trade agreements, such as the one with
Europe and then the Trans-Pacific Partnership, there's no point in having trade
agreements unless you can take advantage of them. One of the areas where we
still have a very good comparative advantage internationally is in resource
products. We always probably will.
So that was the initial reason and the rationale for looking at this holistic
idea rather than analyzing a whole series of individual projects.
The other reason we believe that this is a good idea worth pursuing is that
there are many other ancillary benefits, other than enhancing trade
diversification. They relate largely to the economic opportunities that would
open up in the North and the Near North in terms of access to new mines, access
to forest reserves, and even to opening up agriculture possibilities further
north, especially if we're undergoing global warming.
But those opportunities will be missed unless there is a transportation
infrastructure that is more robust than what we have now. So these other
opportunities may actually eclipse some of the short-term benefits over time of
the access to markets that we're looking at for the commodities sector.
On top of that, we were quite excited about the notion that this could
improve the quality of life for northerners, particularly indigenous people who
are largely residing in the North. So if a big government objective is
reconciliation with our indigenous people, this would be a marvellous way of
actually providing some opportunity for them not only as potential investors but
also as recipients of job opportunities and other developments where they live.
So I guess as we went into this we saw that the potential benefits went far
beyond the original rationale, which I should say, being based in Calgary, was
one of the big issues for the business community in Calgary. It is no accident
that the school took this on for that reason. But as we've said, we see a lot
more potential, and so that's why we're excited about it.
Senator Campbell: Thank you very much for coming today. I'm like
Senator Black. I have so many questions, but I'll just start with this. We
finished a study on interprovincial trade barriers, and it would seem to me that
the starting point on this whole thing is removing those barriers. Without those
barriers removed, I have a difficult time seeing this whole thing come to
I'd like your thoughts on that.
Mr. Fellows: I can speak to that. I'm vaguely familiar with that
study. I think one of my colleagues at the University of Calgary, Trevor Tombe,
presented at that.
I think you sort of have two sides on this same argument. Much of what was
being discussed there had to do with institutional barriers, so I remember there
was the infographic that went out talking about different rules for
configurations of trucking across provinces. So those are obviously very
important. But I think the flip side is that even when the institutional side is
taken care of, if the infrastructure is not there in terms of transportation
infrastructure, you can't capitalize on the harmonization of interprovincial
With that example, where there were configurations of vehicles that could
only travel at night in some provinces and during the day in others, which just
came to the top of my head because it's one of the ones I remember, if the road
isn't there, it doesn't matter how the truck configurations are set up.
So I think infrastructure is certainly a very big part of that, and I go back
to the earlier question. The governance structure there is critically important
as well, and that could be looked at in a more holistic fashion where we're
looking at both of those aspects simultaneously to get the most gains.
Mr. Sulzenko: I read your report with great interest, in part because
I was the federal government's chief negotiator for the original agreement.
Senator Campbell: Do you want to come back? We have an opening.
Mr. Sulzenko: It wasn't one of my best moments, I may say.
But having said that, I would supplement Kent's response with the fact that
if you assume this project would go ahead, it would require federal leadership;
that is my underlying assumption. Federal leadership also means legislation to
set the framework for this, obviously in consultation with provincial and
territorial governments and other interested parties. Then the issue that's just
been raised can be dealt with carefully in that legislative process to set up a
regime whereby some of these barriers issues will not be allowed to form.
I also believe there are potentially big opportunities in terms of, for
example, the electric grid. One of the biggest barriers we have in this country
still is the fact that provinces do not agree on how they're going to treat the
grid beyond their provincial borders. This certainly would raise that issue once
more and would be, I think, of potential benefit to the whole country.
Senator Wallin: Thanks for being here. Good to see you.
Just to follow up on that question, here in your own document, under "Public
policy and governance dimensions," you've raised a couple of questions which, of
course, I know you want to answer over the long haul, but I'm assuming you have
a hunch, so I'm just going to ask you about a couple of them. You've just
touched on legislative and regulatory base. Is it adequate to even start having
The one that interested me a little bit more is whether there is an
environment to provide adequate incentive for private sector investors. What's
your hunch on that?
Then I have a separate question.
Mr. Sulzenko: Do you want me to do the legislative base, and you do
Mr. Fellows: Sure.
Mr. Sulzenko: With respect to the legislative base, one of the
problems we have generally as a country is that to do anything requires
agreement between levels of government. That's a fact of life in this country,
and we have precedence, though, in the past whereby federal legislation is then
used as an umbrella under which provincial and territorial governments pass
their own legislation which is compatible with that.
In my mind, certainly, and I speak only for myself at this point, the
legislative base for something this big, if we're talking about a $100 billion
expenditure over multiple years — something this significant — you would want to
anchor in a new legislative base that would smooth the way for a lot of the
decision making and, of course, the governance structure that goes with it.
Mr. Fellows: Speaking to the scope of investment and the financing
side, when we talk about multi-modal transportation networks, there are some
modes I alluded to that have explicit revenue streams. I'm thinking here of a
pipeline or a rail line because those are based on shipping for a third party
for which you put the infrastructure in place, and then you charge for
Roads and highways tend to look a lot more like a public good, where we build
a road and then, unless it's a toll road — but even to an extent if it's a toll
road — the explicit revenue stream doesn't always necessarily pay off. From an
economic perspective, that doesn't mean the asset isn't worth investing in. It's
just hard to monetize. At that point, you really have to look into levels of
government playing an active role in financing that because you won't be able to
get the private sector to make those types of investments.
There are a number of different models. A private-public partnership is one
that comes to the forefront. But, again, that's something we would like to be in
a position to do more extensive research on so that we can identify those
opportunities and what that financing structure looks like.
Senator Wallin: I'm going to ask another question, which I guess
really requires speculation. It goes to your point, which is that there's not
much sense having trade agreements if we don't have the capability to trade.
I was listening to a speech today by Perrin Beatty from the Canadian Chamber
of Commerce. Someone asked him, "Is the approval of LNG really an approval if
you have 127 caveats" or whatever it is. It prompted him to answer that, as we
all know, it's going to be very difficult to find unanimity on any kind of a
So what do we do about the fact that we will actually never find a project
that doesn't have a detractor, critic or opponent? How can you actually research
that issue and have a pathway? We know what happens on the simplest of things.
It's not just federal-provincial; it's all the special interest groups that are
Any thoughts? Are you going down that road?
Mr. Fellows: You're quite right that an answer to that question
requires a level of speculation on the project. Not to sound too much like I am
copying Andrei's earlier answer, but clear legislation on that is critical for
reducing that uncertainty.
You're quite right that we can't eliminate that uncertainty, but reducing
that uncertainty is important. From a purely numbers-based economics
perspective, uncertainty doesn't rule out any project, but it does increase the
There are also costs with eliminating uncertainty outright. We want
consultation with different interested parties. That's an important part to make
sure that we are generating or investing in infrastructure to the benefit of the
widest group possible and to the highest extent possible.
So I see it more as a balance between the costs of uncertainty. If you're a
private sector investor, that comes down to what the required return on capital
that you need is, and that increases as you're spending speculatively on things
like proposals. There's a lot of upfront spending before the shovel even goes
into the ground, so balancing those costs against the benefits of consultation
and collaborative decision making.
I don't know if Andrei has anything to add.
Mr. Sulzenko: I would add a more general point. We believe that a
bigger tent is one in which you can accommodate diverse interests. That's one of
the underlying premises or the rationale for this — also, without being overly
specific on routing and various other things in advance.
There is lots of room for negotiation and accommodation. We would hope that
would allow the various interests to work with each other and find some common
Senator Wallin: Hence the dotted line.
Mr. Sulzenko: — whereas right now when you have a one-off project,
it's a very specific route and so on. It's a specific purpose. You can
understand why there can be great controversy over it.
But we believe that if it's bigger, and I must say that notwithstanding —
again, I speak personally — recent announcements by indigenous groups about
their opposition to certain developments, my experience, for example, with the
Mackenzie Gas Project some 10 years ago was quite the opposite. An Aboriginal
pipeline corporation was established that was going to have a third of the
equity in the project. I think if you present indigenous people with
opportunities and a say in how that will devolve, then I'm much more optimistic.
Senator Wallin: Good point. And as I said off-mic there, I'm glad to
see the dotted line because I think that keeps the debate open.
Senator Enverga: I was reading in your report, and I am so interested
in that and amazed at how it could be done. However, during your studies, have
you ever come across a country that you figured you could use as a model? Has it
ever happened in a country? How can we adapt that?
Mr. Fellows: There are two sources of precedent; unfortunately,
neither of them will map directly to Canada because the circumstances are
different. Australia has a corridor concept that is primarily motivated by their
mining sector in terms of putting together a transportation corridor to get
those commodities to tidewater. The other corridor concept that we have looked
at a little bit is in Africa. The exact name escapes me at present.
Those are both areas where we have seen the corridor concept put into play.
There are obviously differences between those jurisdictions and Canada. In some
cases, it's still a wait-and-see to see how this is completely played out in
those two jurisdictions.
That's about as far as we've gone in looking at other jurisdictions that have
imposed the corridor concept, but there are examples out there.
Mr. Sulzenko: There's also an example in Europe joining the north
versus southern Europe. There's a common thread through all three that we looked
at: It's a collaborative effort among all the stakeholders, and a very clear
governance structure is set up in advance to make it happen. Those are lessons
we take from what we consider to be successful projects.
Senator Enverga: When you look at those countries — and I know Canada
is totally different from some of them — but do you have any measurements on the
economic benefits of each particular one so that we can maybe adapt it in
Mr. Fellows: We haven't looked explicitly at measures of benefit in
other jurisdictions. They are inherently very difficult to measure when you're
talking about the economic benefits of infrastructure because it's hard to get
the comparison right. In some way, you need to know what the country or region
would look like with the infrastructure in place and without. So it is difficult
to set those up.
It's certainly something that we would like to investigate further. We could
do speculative models for Canada, looking at this as well, but it's not
something we have looked at explicitly at this stage.
Senator Enverga: I see you have a big dotted line on your map. In your
study, would you suggest that we do it by phases — for example, do Alberta and
B.C. first and then worry about the rest in later years? Have you thought about
that? Maybe it is a lot easier to be implemented when we do it by phases or by
Mr. Fellows: Yes. Again, this is speculative because we're still
waiting to do a lot of the research on this, but full construction of the
corridor, start to finish, will take a considerable length of time anyway, so in
terms of the construction of any individual mode of transportation, right now we
would be more favourable of a phased development.
However, in terms of the institutional structure and the pathing, that's
something that could be done in a holistic fashion, as Andrei was saying, in
order to coordinate those efforts early on and make sure we have a plan for
where the infrastructure will actually go. The first step is to set up the
right-of-way so that we have a plan for where we think the routing would be most
effective. That can change through time.
To give a couple of examples, we're seeing construction along some of these
pathways already. There's highway construction around Tuktoyaktuk in the North.
This development is happening, but if we can coordinate it more effectively and
bring all the interested parties to the table at the start, we can collaborate
on a much more effective pan-Canadian corridor.
The Chair: I was interested in your dotted line to the North,
especially as we head into 2017 and Canada's 150-year anniversary. Our Founding
Fathers obviously recognized the fact that if you weren't there, it was open
season on what was left over, and hence the national railroad.
Could you talk a little bit about some of the competing interests for the
North? We've all read about them from time to time.
Mr. Sulzenko: Well, the dotted line, I think, goes pretty well through
the Mackenzie Valley. That's the obvious route, and the route for which the gas
pipeline was being proposed, going back to Berger days. You asked about
competing interests, but I'm not sure there are any. There was a fairly large
consensus, certainly, on the desirability of that gas pipeline being put in
place. We know that the Government of the Northwest Territories would dearly
love to have a year-round road as well and, maybe, other transportation
infrastructure. I think one of the most enthusiastic supporters of that branch
into the North, at least in principle, would be coming from that government.
That also comes back to an earlier question: What are the priorities? I'm
speaking personally again, but my guess is that would be a high priority, as
would, potentially, a branch into Churchill. The Port of Churchill is being shut
down, which is ironic when you consider that it's the shortest route to Europe
for some of our commodity trade, by several thousand kilometres, I believe.
I'll turn it over to Kent to explain the Panamax implications, because those
are quite significant in the long term for Canada.
Mr. Fellows: What Andrei is referencing there is the Panama Canal
expansion. There is an expectation that the economics of oceanic shipping are
going to change somewhat in the coming decades with the opening of that
expansion to favour larger ships.
We've already got building issues with the more internal ports along the St.
Lawrence Seaway — those tend to be served by smaller ships that can get up the
seaway — in terms of going out and filling up more bulk carriers on the coast.
There is a big benefit in getting agricultural and forestry commodities to
water as early in the transportation network as possible because water shipping
seems to be considerably cheaper per tonne-mile than any overland shipping
When we look at the Port of Churchill closing down, it is a bit of a shock
because, just looking at the map, it would look like a natural port for shipping
agricultural products coming out of the Prairie provinces to Europe. If you
check the study — I apologize, because I don't have the figure number memorized
— there are a number of figures in there showing that we are already exporting a
considerable amount of agriculture and forestry to Europe, rather than the
United States. That should be a natural path, but we're not seeing it,
potentially because of a lack of an integrated transportation grid in the more
centralized overland area of Canada.
Senator Ringuette: I have a few questions. When I look at the map here
of the proposed and existing corridors, I think that would be north of Montreal,
almost, going east. Then would it take the existing route to the Atlantic
provinces? I don't see any proposed corridor reaching the Atlantic provinces.
Senator Smith: I think it would go up through Labrador.
Senator Ringuette: But, for instance, the entire region of the Port of
Halifax would be outside of that pan-Canadian corridor, so it's not really a
For 30 years, we've been hearing off and on about the high-speed train
corridor between Quebec and Windsor. It's off and it's on, and then a few years
later, someone takes it off the shelf and brings it back as a potential project,
and then it goes back on the shelf. And that's a very small distance.
Have you looked at the potential for PPPs — public-private partnerships — to
invest in your further research and to really look into a feasibility study?
Mr. Fellows: The public-private partnership is something we have
speculated on in terms of funding the infrastructure expenditure, which is the
part you're talking about, but again, it's something that's in our research
With respect to the earlier comments about tying into the existing southern
grid, I think, first off, I'll mention again that this is very speculative in
terms of where the pathing is going, relative to the dotted line and nice gentle
curves. We have not done a microgeographic assessment of individual points
through which it would benefit the corridor to go. But by integrating into the
existing grid and also moving infrastructure further north, you can take some of
that load off the existing rail lines.
With regard to the potential for high speed rail in Ontario and Quebec, I
think one of the issues there is that there is a very high — as we would call it
— opportunity cost. There is a very high cost of running on existing
rights-of-way, because they're very congested at this stage, so providing an
alternate outlet on the East Coast for those goods gets them off the existing
Now, tying that in to your more explicit question, I think it's difficult to
come up with a funding model right now without spending more time looking at
this in detail, because the benefits are quite widespread. If you're talking
about, say, a new rail line going further north that's going to benefit the
existing rail structure, there is a question of who we think should be paying
for that. If you're benefiting because you're getting congestion off the current
structure, the owners of the current network might not see it that way. They
might see it as competition in terms of losing business. That's a question that
requires more research to answer, and it's something we want to integrate into
that longer-term research plan.
Senator Greene: I'd like to pick up pretty much where Senator
I'm from Nova Scotia, and one of the problems that the Nova Scotia economy
has had forever is not that we're too far from tidewater, because it's there; it
is that we're too far from our markets, which are normally in Ontario, Quebec
and in that area. As a result, Nova Scotia manufacturers have been at a distinct
disadvantage vis-à-vis manufacturers in Central Canada.
The distance is great, and they have to go around that hump in Maine. Now
about 20 years ago there was a road builder in Massachusetts who approached the
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick governments about building a corridor from
Montreal, through that hump in Maine, to Saint John for road and rail. The
effect of it, if I can remember, was to knock about six to eight hours of truck
drive time off the route, which would have been a tremendous boon to truckers,
transportation, et cetera. It would have brought the Nova Scotia manufacturers
and the Nova Scotia economy about a third closer to major markets.
Since this is conceptual, what do you think of that concept?
Mr. Sulzenko: I would say that sounds like a great idea. I don't know
that it can be integrated into this idea. They could maybe live side by side,
but you're raising a different question. Our focus has been on how we get access
to tidewater for commodity products so that they can be shipped at the least
cost and, therefore, the best profit for our resource exporters.
You've posed a different issue, and frankly I'm a little hard pressed to see
how that could be integrated into our work.
Senator Greene: It certainly should be an ongoing topic of this
inquiry that we're undertaking right now, because it still is a corridor, and
it's one that I think would have great benefit to the region I'm from, and is a
way of binding the corrupt.
Of course, you have to negotiate a deal with Maine and the U.S. government,
and all this is very complicated, but there has been interest in the U.S. to do
something exactly like that.
Senator Smith: Your study is predicated on the importance of moving
product and trade, the growth of the Asian market which you've deemed as number
one, and the European market is number two. It leads to a simple logistics
question first. With phase one, two, three, you said phase one, $800,000. As a
practical question, how many phases will there be and how much will it cost to
get the research done?
Mr. Fellows: I am not sure that the School of Public Policy has
forecast for future phases. Right now we have phase one, and there are things we
want to talk about that aren't in phase one. But for practical reasons we have
focused on those three core pillars for the first phase because we think that's
a reasonable chunk to bite off.
In terms of longer-term research, again, because that research will be
informed by the initial research, we don't know. But I think a bulk of the core
interest and, in fact, most of the questions we've had already here today do
fall into that first phase and those three core pillars.
Senator Smith: Have you done a critical path of how you would do phase
one research —
Mr. Fellows: No.
Senator Smith: — in order to quantify and justify your estimate your
Mr. Fellows: In terms of a critical path — Mr. Sulzenko might have a
different answer here — that would be on the directors at the School of Public
Policy. We were engaged to do this initial research and come up with future
questions, so I'm not aware so much of the planning details.
Mr. Sulzenko: I think the idea was within two years to have this
initial phase done. Again, it's all funding-dependent because this will be
academically led, peer-reviewed research of high quality, and there will be
researchers across the country who are the best people in these various fields.
The hope is that if we can do that within two years, there will be enough
momentum going that, assuming that certain assumptions are proved up through
that process, there will be enough momentum going that we could then make a
plausible case for increased funding for later phases as well.
Senator Smith: I'm fired up about it because I was lucky enough to get
my hands on the study that was done in the 1960s, in 1967-68, which is the
precursor of this. The fellow who did it is 92 years old. He's still alive,
which is fascinating.
Could you give us an overview? One of the objections — and maybe it's
inappropriate — is that people might look at this and say it's going to be too
cold. Give us a little overview of the parallels that you would consider putting
this in, recognizing there can be some fluctuations depending on the economic
interest. That is a fairly important concept for you to market if you're going
to get interest.
My next question is, how are you going to market this thing? This is
potentially a transformative project that is the biggest thing we've seen since
the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, at least in my own mind, and
then the construction of the seaway. Geographically, what's your sales pitch in
terms of how you're selling it from a geographic perspective and, then, how are
you going to market this?
My concern would be that an academic approach to selling is not going to get
you enough pizzazz when people in business see this. And I'm not trying to be
critical. Around this table we have some interesting business acumen, and that
may be one of the things buzzing in our heads right now. How do you market this
to create the energy? This is a big, high-energy concept.
Mr. Fellows: With respect to your question on critical path and why
we've looked at it in this particular context, up to this point we have talked a
lot about market access for resources. The flip side, which I think is as
important if not more important that we haven't spent a lot of time on, is
looking at costs in the North. I'll start off with the cost of living. I believe
the exact figure we have in the paper is 28 per cent, so I think of it as about
a third. That's the increase in cost of living that you have if you live in
Canada's North, off a major transportation route. That means $1.30 in the North
gets you what $1 would get you in the South, and that's mostly down to
The other important thing to realize about that fact is that it is now a
decade old. That's out of a 2006 Government of Canada report, and in our
preliminary research we haven't seen a more up-to-date number than that.
Senator Smith: In terms of geography between the fifty-fifth and
sixtieth, or fifty-fifth and sixty-fifth parallels, you will know what the
weather patterns are like and what the soil is like, and you will know what you
can build and what you have to go over with bridges because of the wetlands.
It's important that you give us that base concept, and you're going to have
variables because there may be a mine that will be a little further north and
you want to make sure you have your right-of-way through the right places, but
conceptually, to get interest, where is this going to go in terms of geography?
Mr. Sulzenko: That's why the first project we would like to see go
ahead is exactly that — the routing. What are the options, what are the
engineering issues, and what are the environmental issues? We have a notional
Senator Smith: Get us your notional idea. You need to sell that to get
the money to do the research.
Mr. Sulzenko: The notional idea is that you would certainly want a
spur to the Arctic. We've already discussed that.
Senator Smith: Right.
Mr. Sulzenko: For access to Asian markets, you'd have to go to the
West Coast. That's rather obvious. We've already also talked about the Port of
Churchill as being critical, particularly for agriculture products.
Again, going back to an earlier question about priorities, those are, to my
mind, rather obvious priorities in the West because there are real needs right
The notional route is through the boreal forest. There are obstacles of
various kinds. There are many rivers and lakes and so on. Further north you have
the issue of softening under the tundra and so on and so forth. There are very
significant issues — even if everyone said "This is great, let's do it" — from
an engineering and environmental perspective.
In terms of marketing, it makes the most sense to get that initial piece done
and have something concrete to put forward. And I might also add there are
communities in the North that, for the most part, are very small and isolated
from each other. They're only accessed by plane. We could look at a routing that
could actually connect some of those communities to each other so there would be
better access both from the South and from one community to another.
So there are quite a number of considerations on the routing, which I think
could excite the imagination more than what we have right now.
Senator Smith: I guess my question was, if you're selling to business
or major investors, you just don't want to have the impression that you're going
to have everybody living in igloos and that you're going to be able to farm and
get something out of the lands, depending on the areas that you're in. In the
old study back in the late 1960s, there was this mid-Canada concept. Mid-Canada
sounds a lot better than Northern Canada. Do you see what I'm saying? That's in
terms of getting interest from people who say that that would be a very
interesting place to live. Whitehorse is a beautiful place in the summer, where
you're getting 90-degree temperatures. It's just for three months. It's a
shorter season, but a nice quality of life.
You're going into some frigid areas, but your base concept is that you can
live in a habitable area. It will have extremes, but it's going to be habitable.
Have you had an opportunity to market this to a variety of people, or are you
in the starting phase? Where are you logistically with your efforts?
Mr. Sulzenko: We have had I'd say informal discussions with a number
of potential partners or interests, certainly with some business interests,
particularly in Alberta.
We've had great interest from the Government of the Northwest Territories.
Maybe Kent can fill in about some of our potential indigenous partners. We're
starting that as well.
Mr. Fellows: I'll come back to the idea of a sales pitch in a second,
but we have had, as Andrei said, considerable interest. Investment corporations,
First Nations investment corporations particularly in the North are very keen on
the idea for exactly the reasons that we can reduce cost of living and we can
reduce investment costs. So the other figure, and I don't want to quote too
many, is that capital generally, capital investment — so equipment, machinery,
buildings — you're looking at two to three times the cost if you are more than
500 kilometres from an established transportation corridor. So that gets
business interests quite excited in that region.
In terms of a sales pitch, I think the quality of our answer on that probably
reflects the reality that the School of Public Policy is not particularly
interested in advertising this at this stage. What we're soliciting for, if
we're soliciting for anything, is research to try to establish whether there is
potential merit there, which I think we've done in the first paper that we've
already released that we have shared copies of. The potential merit has been
established, but more detailed study is needed to really get into those finer
It's a trade-off. Because we're an academic institution, we try to remain
agnostic on the net benefit until we've actually sat down and looked at the
numbers in a lot of detail. That doesn't mean we're not enthusiastic about the
idea. We're very enthusiastic about the idea, but it does take considerable
effort in drilling down and looking at the numbers, looking at precedent,
talking to everyone from engineering firms who have built roads that require
these interesting technical challenges, all the way through to, say, a sociology
professor who can tell us something about what happens to small communities when
you increase transportation capacity through them.
These are all aspects that we want to look at. They're aspects that we have
not looked at yet. So in terms of building a sales pitch, my personal answer —
Senator L. Smith: I apologize for using those words, and I apologize
if I was too aggressive. It's just that this is such a transformative
opportunity that you get excited when you see it, and you have to contain your
excitement in focusing on it. I'm thinking about the people you have to deal
with. In the interprovincial trade study, we had people talking to us about the
western union between — I guess it's British Columbia and Alberta, and now
Saskatchewan is coming in. Have you folks had a chance to talk to them, the New
Mr. Sulzenko: Not as three partners in that agreement particularly,
but it's fair to say there have been informal discussions at both provincial and
federal government levels among officials. If you look in Ottawa, there isn't
one of the major departments that would have an interest in this sort of thing
that is not fully aware of what we've been doing and the rationale for our work.
There's a high level of recognition and understanding.
The issue you've raised is, who will champion this? It's difficult because I
can understand the private sector being a little reluctant to step forward,
particularly at this time, given that it might be interpreted by other parties
to be, "Oh, here we go again." I'm not going to assume anything about reaction,
but I can understand why the private sector would like to be, at this point,
more in the background, supportive but in the background.
Where does that leave us? It leaves us with government, I guess. If there's
going to be a champion, it should come from governments, plural, including the
federal government. But as of today, certainly at a political level in the
Government of Canada, we haven't had any indication that there's great interest
there. Certainly, there is a high degree of awareness among officials.
Being academics — I'm a former bureaucrat so I don't quite qualify as an
academic — there is a bit of a quandary here as to how to move forward on this.
That's one of the reasons, frankly, that we were so enthusiastic about appearing
before your committee, because at least there's a public airing now at a
political level for the first time.
Senator Tannas: One of the challenges of being the last guy to stick
up your hand to get on the question list is that all the good questions are
The Chair: You have Senator Day after you.
Senator Tannas: I'll leave you a little room. A lot of my questions
were around what our role is here. What I'm hearing is that you've got
intellectual support from people in government departments and so on. There's an
interest. That's why we're all excited about it. We all get it. We see it. But
what is missing is the inspiration for political leadership, and that's our
challenge, maybe, to figure out how we provide the spark that leads to political
I first came upon this from a political leader in Alberta who is no longer a
political leader in Alberta. She's a radio host. But she was talking about this
Are there others, provincial premiers in any of the other provinces, that you
have ever heard utter this? Can you give us a little bit of a drive-by of where
friendly ground might be, based on what you know, for political support as we
think about how we go about making recommendations that might move the needle?
Mr. Sulzenko: Kent, I'm sure, will have points to add. This is
speculative certainly on my part, but I think the governments in the West,
particularly Alberta, Saskatchewan and N.W.T., would be quite enthusiastically
interested in pursuing this to the next stage, for obvious reasons. It's in
I would also venture that the Government of Ontario, with whom we've had
really no direct contact yet, should be interested because notionally this route
would go by the Ring of Fire. The problem with the Ring of Fire or the challenge
there is that there is this amazing potential deposit of minerals, but there is
no access to it, and the cost of access is exceedingly high. I've read figures
in the billions. This would potentially be a way of coming at the development of
that. I think the Ontario government has expressed a great interest in
developing it, but there's a question of who would pay for the infrastructure.
That would still be the case with our idea, but it might be part of a bigger
plan, and therefore maybe more cost-effective.
With respect to Quebec, and I'm just going across the country now, our
partners at CIRANO who have been in business for many years now and who have
done a lot of work for the Government of Quebec as one of their main clients —
they're also academic researchers — tell us that there would be great interest
in Quebec because it would tie in with some of their own plans for their Plan
Now, I can't speak for the Atlantic, and again there's a question of, well,
we're really talking because of access to tidewater in the Atlantic to
Newfoundland and Labrador rather than to the Maritime provinces.
We think if properly explained and with good marketing, governments across
the country should at least be interested in pursuing this to the next phase.
Because of the enormous potential cost, they will surely want to have rigorous
evidence-based research done before they can be cheerleaders into another phase.
Senator Tannas: Could you describe similar candidates in the
indigenous communities? Who would you think we should be canvassing?
Mr. Fellows: We have talked informally with a number of groups. I
think the School of Public Policy would be in a position to maybe give you a
list further down the road. I'm hesitant to name any names right now off the top
of my head, but there are a number of investment corporations that have been
incorporated among several groups of First Nations that we have talked to, so we
could definitely provide that information sometime after the hearing.
Senator Tannas: That would be great. The clerk will follow up with
you. Thank you.
Senator Day: Gentlemen, thank you very much for explaining your
concept. I'm from Atlantic Canada as well, and I think if you had had a partner
from Atlantic Canada, a lot of those arrows would be different now than what
they are. Be that as it may, we can talk about these.
You've settled on a northern corridor as being your preferential way to do
this, rather than interconnecting further south with existing lines. I read your
various explanations of opening up the North, which you just talked about, the
Ring of Fire in Ontario and up into the Northwest Territories and Yukon. You
talk about the advantage of establishing Canadian sovereignty that could flow
from this, helping the indigenous groups that we've just talked about.
There are a lot of benefits for a northern corridor, but it would be
tremendously more expensive than interconnecting further south. Do you agree
with me on that?
Mr. Sulzenko: I'll let Kent comment on this as well, because it's a
very important point that's been raised.
Our concept here — maybe we haven't explained it that well — is to develop a
corridor that would be complementary to the existing system and integrated with
that so that we would have a system that worked better overall, which would also
involve the diversion of some of the freight traffic to the northern part,
freeing up opportunities in the southern part which are now encumbered by a lot
of freight traffic.
I mean, if you live in Toronto, you have freight traffic right through the
middle of the city, day and night, and there are huge urban congestion issues in
the GTA. I'm just speculating again, but freeing up a freight line that goes
through the middle of Toronto for other purposes would have a huge potential
benefit for that city over time as it keeps growing.
We're really positing a bigger, more efficient system for all the needs that
we have as we grow as an economy.
Now the actual latitude is notional, but certainly there's no point having
another line right along the existing one because you're going through urban
areas, which is one of the challenges we face.
Senator Day: I understand that, but you know those freight trains
going through Toronto and south of Montreal are hauling oil from Alberta to
refineries in New Brunswick. What we need is something a lot more real, the west
to east pipeline that would take a lot of the freight. They go right by where I
live in New Brunswick, and there are hundreds of railcars going by there on a
daily basis because they can't be shipped by pipeline.
But there is a lot of interconnect in the east, and I just wondered if your
future studies would provide for this. I understand why you go to Prince Rupert
in the west and Vancouver being overcrowded now. I can understand that. But in
the east, with the Port of Halifax, the Port of Saint John and others all the
way along the St. Lawrence River, there is lots of opportunity that wouldn't
require a line up through the northern part.
Will your study look into alternatives, or are you satisfied that the
advantages of building a northern corridor outweigh this interconnect from west
to east multi-modal, which is what would happen if we could build this corridor?
I like the idea of a west-east access to tidal water, but I just think that the
costs would be so much less south that we need to do now rather than the
conceptualized northern corridor.
Could you comment on that?
Mr. Fellows: From the academic side, I would regard this preliminary
map as more or less a hypothesis which requires testing by additional study, and
maybe not a hypothesis in one sense where it's yes or no on the entire pathing
but different aspects.
You raise the point of potentially capitalizing on existing port activity in
Eastern Canada. That's certainly something we would be very interested at
looking at. I mean, why would we advocate constructing a new port when there's a
port that is considerably underused or one that we could expand rather than
starting from scratch somewhere else? We've made that case in terms of the West
Coast ports, looking at land constraints in Vancouver, an expansion of the port
of metro Vancouver, which is very unlikely because of the cost, so moving
further up coast on that makes a considerable amount of sense.
In terms of the northern focus, I'll echo Mr. Sulzenko's comments that there
are benefits in reducing congestion on the southern lines, and not just reducing
congestion but overcoming some of the physical limitations of expansion on some
of those lines. There's an issue right now with east-west transportation of
oversized shipments. I'm thinking of particular manufactured capital that would
be targeted for somewhere like Fort McMurray to be used in an oil sands
facility. Trade east-west in that through Canada is very difficult because the
current transportation corridor we have does not permit oversized shipments, so
a lot of that ends up sourced out of the United States where in terms of
construction cost it may or may not be lower cost and usually isn't. It's just
we physically can't get it from Eastern Canada to Western Canada on the corridor
we have now.
Looking at a longer-term plan out 20, 50 or 100 years, taking what we have
observed from the past and projecting that on the future, a secondary
transportation grid or rather an expansion of the current grid where we move
considerable amount of that east-west transportation further north out of those
existing centres becomes a reasonable hypothesis to pursue in terms of further
Senator Day: Let me just conclude by thanking you very much, but I'm
hoping to encourage you to look at other alternatives down here. The line that
the senator spoke about earlier, from Saint John, New Brunswick through to
Montreal, when I was younger I used to travel on that line. It wasn't busy
enough to keep going, but that was through Maine, and it saved many hours. So
there's also interconnect with the east coast of the United States for high
voltage transmission from our nuclear generating plant in southern New Brunswick
that Quebec uses as well.
So those things are there but they just haven't been tied together. You could
provide a very good service in tying some of these together with this
Mr. Sulzenko: Mr. Chairman, what I take from this recent discussion is
that when we look at the first pillar, the physical dimensions, we're encouraged
to expand it more toward integration with the southern system and what changes
might consequently be beneficial in the southern system as well as the new one.
We take that as some considerable interest.
The Chair: I call it the "Maritime lobby," but take it as you wish.
Senator Day: Just say yes.
Senator Black: I have two questions for you. For the purposes of this
committee and for those who are watching, can you tell us what you envision in
the corridor? We haven't heard that from you. I would like to hear that.
Mr. Fellows: As a minimal necessity, we would want to see road and/or
rail. Those modes, in particular, are modes that have impacts all along the
linear infrastructure. If you compare that to something like a transmission line
or a pipeline, the issue in particular with pipelines is that when you construct
a pipeline, you get considerable benefits at one end and you get potential
benefits at the other end. Then, once the pipeline is constructed, you get very
little in terms of benefits in the middle. If a pipeline is functioning
adequately, you don't even know it's there.
With a road or a rail line, you are lowering those transportation costs, both
out of a region and into a region, so for both exports and imports. It makes
export of those resources and commodities we talked about earlier more economic.
It also has a potential to dramatically reduce the cost of living in those
That's where I start.
In terms of potential merit, electricity transmission lines follow closely
behind, depending on the exact area on the potential corridor. That has to do
with sources of generation and where those resources are located. We know we
have good hydro potential in Manitoba, so it would make sense to try to build
transmission lines out of Manitoba. It could be wind in other regions as well —
getting those types of generation so that we can distribute them across
different regional areas and reduce the reliance on smaller, less-economic
generators, such as bunker fuel generators or coal generators.
Senator Black: Road, rail, transmission, query pipelines — what about
Mr. Fellows: Oh, yes, thank you. In terms of the IT infrastructure,
fibre optic is another one of those critical components where you're able to
distribute that among different regions.
In particular, this ties into the earlier idea we were talking about in terms
of augmenting the existing grid. With fibre optic, it becomes important over
time to build redundancies into that system, especially when you've got
long-distance areas in the North. I know already in the Northwest Territories
they're talking about trying to move to a ring system where all the
infrastructure lines for fibre optic are in rings, so if you get a disconnect in
one area, you can reroute along the other side of the ring. They are very
sensitive to forest fires and other types of physical disruption.
Senator Black: Is there anything else you would include in that?
Mr. Fellows: Nothing immediately comes to mind. But beyond road and
rail, I think we're fairly agnostic in terms of what could potentially fold in.
Senator Black: As a final question from me, I'm very interested in
your view as to what you would have this committee do. If we were inclined to
want to be supportive of this national initiative, what would you encourage us
to do and think about?
Mr. Sulzenko: This is like a "what do you want for Christmas"
question. Our immediate priority is to have sponsors of our research program.
Sponsorship is how the school functions in all of its research programs. We
don't get money from the University of Calgary, as such. The model for the
school is to have various private-public partners sponsoring various research
programs. That's the model, and that would be our priority.
If my wish could come true, it would be to encourage the Government of
Canada, because you are part of the Government of Canada, to support in some way
the research program that we're proposing. That would be a wonderful step.
I said earlier that there's a high degree of knowledge about this, even
before our report was published, at the officials level. I don't want to speak
for anybody specifically, but there was great interest that we pursue this. The
remaining issue is how we get a consortium within the Government of Canada to
help support it.
We firmly believe that we need multiple sources of support, because we want
to show that this is not on behalf of any one group. It's not a business
initiative. It's not a government initiative. So we would like kind of almost a
three-party consortium — public, private and then some not-for-profit or
foundation support as well — so that the research that will come out of this,
which will be peer-reviewed, will actually be recognized as impartial,
non-partisan, or however you want to put it.
Senator Black: You have no asks for the Government of Canada — or the
school has made no asks of the Government of Canada?
Mr. Sulzenko: I have to be careful here. We have had informal
Senator Black: I would expect so.
Mr. Sulzenko: — but they haven't crystallized into any commitment.
The Chair: I want to follow up on the question I asked initially,
because the question of Arctic sovereignty is an important question policy-wise.
We have the Danes, Russians, Chinese, Japanese, everybody kind of rummaging
around. That's why I asked you if you could expand on your question of economic
sovereignty. The more we economically integrate the North into the rest of the
country, the less argument other countries have of picking up on it. Otherwise,
they're going to pick us apart piece by piece, I think, over the next 30 or 40
Mr. Sulzenko: That's been our assumption as well, and this will
accelerate when the Northwest Passage becomes operational year round. I think
that will be the tipping point for all these interests to start agitating from
If Canada is active in the Arctic, that adds to our own credibility for
whatever claims we may make, which will be incompatible with those of others. We
already know what their positions are likely to be. That's one of the areas that
we would actually have a separate study on, to look at it from an almost
geopolitical perspective as to how important this is going to be over what
period of time.
The Chair: It's important. The engineering problems — compared to the
19th century with the engineers looking out across the Prairies and northern and
even southern Ontario to the mountains — my goodness gracious.
Senator Wallin: There's a record-breaking snowstorm in Saskatoon
today, breaking 100-year records.
The Chair: That darn global warming.
Senator Wallin: And that's in the South, so we shouldn't worry about
The Chair: I'm not. Thank you, gentlemen. This was a great start to
our look at this whole concept. Any other witnesses you think who would be
helpful to us across the country that you could recommend to our clerks would be
very much appreciated.
Tomorrow's meeting will be in 160 in Centre Block.