In an appearance at PDAC on Tuesday (March 5), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pointed to collaboration, reconciliation and innovation as key themes for the country’s resource sector.
Speaking with PDAC President Glenn Mullan, Trudeau emphasized his desire to support the mining industry, highlighting a five-year renewal of the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit (METC) under the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan (CMMP).
“Five years is sort of for me giving a bit more stability and predictability, and drawing in investors and building the partnerships and planning for your horizon,” he said when asked why the tax credit was renewed for five years instead of the typical one year.
“What we want as a country is to demonstrate that Canada is a good place to invest, a good partner to have in your business, and that means listening to your concerns and responding to them,” he added.
Announced earlier this week, the CMMP is geared at driving Canada’s “industry competitiveness and long-term success” via six strategic directions, including global leadership and the environment.
Specific plans will be hammered out at the Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference in July, although the initiative is currently facing opposition from the Saskatchewan and Ontario governments.
The Liberal government’s Bill C-69, or Impact Assessment Act, is also under fire. While it is aimed at streamlining the environmental assessment process in Canada, opponents have argued that it could cause project delays and confusion, or deter businesses from seeking project approvals in the first place.
Trudeau emphasized the legislation’s focus on reducing overlap between provincial and federal approval processes, and creating opportunities for early community engagement.
“The only way to get big things built is to do it in respect of science and in partnership with communities, particularly indigenous communities,” he said, “and that’s something that we are moving forward with as a key part of our new regulatory frame on Bill C-69.”
Speaking further about indigenous communities, Trudeau commented on the importance of reconciliation, calling the resource sector “a natural place where we actually draw the value from the minerals from the land that is there.”
However, he said, “if we’re going to do that, we have to recognize that for far too many generations it was done without the consent, without the participation, without any benefits flowing to the people who’ve known this land, lived on this land for time immemorial.”
He added, “the more the industry itself engages in a thoughtful, positive way with indigenous people and communities as partners who want the same thing — want to draw value from the land and have positive benefit on communities and on the world — then you will find that there are strong alliances and strong stability in the future coming.”
In closing, Trudeau spoke about the importance of sustainability in the resource space, connecting it to technology and innovation.
“A big piece of [enhancing sustainability] is the innovation you’ve always invested in. I mean, as you’re looking for ways to lower your costs inevitably you’re also looking to waste less, to pollute less,” he said.
“There is a bigger context that you have to be thoughtful about. I think what citizens expect, what Canadians know, is you can’t separate what’s good for environment and what’s good for the economy. You have to do them both together,” he continued.
“The more we can think about innovative ways that are reaching that, the better off, the more competitive you will be as an industry.”
No mention was made of the challenges Trudeau’s administration is facing regarding SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC), and the prime minister shied away from making any predictions about the metals market.
“I was asked about the price of gold on my way into the conference — ‘what is your prediction for the price of gold?’ I’m not going anywhere near that,” he joked.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.