The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce
Northern national corridor key to Canada’s economic future
June 21, 2017
Ottawa – A 7,000-kilometre transportation corridor across Canada’s North will have as revolutionary an impact on today’s Canadian economy as the coast-to-coast railway did in the 1800s, the Senate Committee on Banking Trade and Commerce concludes in a report released Wednesday.
The report, called National Corridor: Enhancing and Facilitating Commerce and Internal Trade, calls for the construction of an east-west corridor through Canada’s northern regions, which would unlock significant economic opportunities. The idea is to establish a right-of-way that would accommodate highways, railways, pipelines as well as electrical transmission and communications networks. The new national corridor would tie into existing infrastructure in southern Canada like the Trans-Canada Highway and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway.
The Senate committee urges the federal government to take a leadership role in building a national corridor, starting with a $5-million grant to the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and the Montreal-based Center for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations for their research program on such a corridor.
The corridor will help Canada diversify its foreign markets by allowing companies to ship their goods to tidewater ports in the North. It will also spur economic growth, new job creation and provide benefits to Indigenous peoples and other northern residents.
Because the proposed national corridor would cross the traditional territories of a large number of Indigenous communities, the government must ensure they are actively involved from the beginning, the committee said. Their involvement in the corridor will be fundamental to its successful development. In particular, the committee met with the First Nations Major Projects Coalition and the First Nations Financial Management Board whose work has informed this study to a vast degree.
This bold and innovative project would create countless employment and economic opportunities for Indigenous communities, including through construction jobs, supplying builders and the acquisition of equity stakes in infrastructure projects.
Other potential benefits of a national corridor include decreased traffic on southern highways and railways. A corridor would also help Canada assert its Arctic sovereignty.
- Inadequate east-west transportation infrastructure limits the extent to which Canada can access tidewater in order to export goods.
- There is a lack of ports and routes in Canada’s North that could be used to ship goods abroad.
- A 7,000-kilometre coast-to-coast corridor through the North could open up ports in Canada’s northern regions.
- Asia and Europe are growing in importance in terms of markets for Canadian exports; improved access to tidewater would make those markets more accessible.
“Not since Sir John A. Macdonald’s National Policy in the 1870s has Canada had such an opportunity to build such a monumental infrastructure project with the potential to transform the country’s economy. As Canada looks forward to its next 150 years, a national corridor is the kind of infrastructure it will need to tap into new foreign markets.”
- Senator David Tkachuk, Chair of the committee
“The proposed national corridor is a visionary project that could unlock extraordinary economic potential. A national corridor would greatly help facilitate internal trade as well as increase access to foreign markets in Asia and Europe, which is exactly what our great country needs.”
- Senator Joseph A. Day, Deputy Chair of the committee
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