Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Resource Curse

In a recent interview with The Globe and Mail, Al Gore referred to something he called The Resource Curse:

The so-called resource curse is most often understood in the context of small nations whose revenue streams are dominated by the exploitation of a single resource. It’s a bit more complex than that with Canada, but the resource curse has multiple dimensions and [that includes] damage to some extremely beautiful landscapes, not to mention the core issue of adding to the reckless spewing of pollution into the Earth’s atmosphere as if it’s an open sewer.

Gore isn't giving voice to a new idea. Harold Innis had a somewhat different phrase for the same problem. He called it The Development Trap. An economy built on exporting a single resource -- fur, wheat or oil -- made Canada dependent on more developed nations. Former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed understood the problem and insisted that oil should be used to develop an economy powered by the production of finished goods.

The present government is a collection of -- in James Hanson's phrase -- Neanderthals. One doubts that any of them have read Innis's work. And it's a safe bet that none of them read what Al Gore has written. We are told that the Harperites are intent on re-writing Canadian history. Perhaps that's because they refuse to learn from it.

And, so, we are all victims of The Resource Curse.


Lorne said...

Let's hope that the Canadian electorate remembers recent Harper history, Owen; otherwise 2015 will see us doomed to repeat it.

Owen Gray said...

Mr. Harper hopes that Canadians are like lobsters in a pot, Lorne. Once they're in, there's no getting out.