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Indigenous loan program must include oil and gas

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From the MacDonald Laurier Institute

By Chris Sankey

True reconciliation means acknowledging our right to develop our lands as we see fit

Speculation has swirled for months that Ottawa is planning to introduce a new Indigenous loan guarantee program, and last week’s fiscal update confirmed that more details will be included in the next federal budget. I am not totally against this idea, as it could help Indigenous groups overcome historical barriers to raising capital, particularly through borrowing. However, there has also been speculation that certain industries could be excluded from loan eligibility, in accordance with the government’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment framework. This is not OK.

If the government follows through with its plan to roll out a new Indigenous-tailored financial program, it should respect our right to self-determination, which encompasses our autonomy to make investment decisions based on our own, internally defined objectives.

For instance, we are well within our rights to pursue investment opportunities in the energy sector, which offers a path to prosperity for many Indigenous communities. Indigenous-Canadians who work in oil and gas extraction currently make almost three times more than their peers. Quite frankly, it would be irresponsible for us to not seek out new energy investments, given the potential for good-paying energy jobs to lift scores of Indigenous families out of poverty.

A new loan guarantee program would, in theory, provide Indigenous nations with the resources to build our own path forward. But if the loan program were handled by the Canada Infrastructure Bank, as budget 2023 suggested, loans for oil and gas development may be excluded. Applying ESG requirements to the program would have a similar effect.

Such conditions would put remote communities at a disadvantage relative to those located near large urban centres. And communities that are dependent on energy projects for their economic well-being would be left in the lurch.This would be a step away from reconciliation. The federal government should not be able to pick and choose for us which projects we partner on — this is paternalism of the worst sort. Decisions about our lands and the projects built on them should be ours to make — and ours alone.

We have long made decisions about projects in our territories — decisions that balance economic development with stewardship of land and water. The Trudeau government has pledged, repeatedly, to value mutual respect and restorative justice. We need to remind them of that.

Right now, the most important thing the federal government can do is respect the right of all Indigenous communities to self-determination. We have a limited window of opportunity to persuade the Liberal government to include oil and natural gas extraction projects on the list of eligible loan guarantees, and make sure that our inherent right to make decisions about projects on our lands is respected.

This is also an opportunity to forge a much-needed and long-overdue relationship between the Tsimshian, Nisga’a, Haida, Haisla, Heiltsuk, Wet’suwet’en, Gitxsan, Tahltan, Tse’Khene, T’exelcemc and Carrier Sekani people, and build an Indigenous economic corridor stretching from British Columbia to Newfoundland.This loan guarantee program could help lift thousands of Indigenous-Canadians out of poverty, and bring prosperity to our people for generations to come, through inter-generational knowledge and wealth transfer. When our communities prosper, Canada prospers, but we cannot do that without the rest of the country’s help.

This is an opportunity for the federal government to bridge the divide and make Canada the economic powerhouse it ought to be. This loan guarantee program can serve as a much-needed catalyst. We should have the opportunity to invest in any project that has the potential to bring prosperity to our communities, including projects in the oil and gas industry.

Indigenous communities want to be a part of Canada, not apart from Canada. Give us the tools and we’ll finish the job.

Chris Sankey is a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a businessman and former elected councillor for the Lax Kw Alaams First Nation.

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Alberta

Edmonton triples venture capital investment in 2023

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Alberta’s tech sector continues its strong momentum, with Edmonton seeing its strongest growth ever, proof Alberta remains a hot tech market.

As global and national investment have declined, Alberta has remained a strong tech market and is showing continued leadership, as shown by Pitchbook ranking Calgary as the 12th fastest-growing tech ecosystem in the world and LinkedIn ranking Calgary as one of the best places to hire and recruit tech workers.

At the end of 2023, Alberta’s five-year growth rate for venture capital dollars invested reached an impressive 48.5 per cent, more than triple Canada’s compounded average growth rate of 13 per cent, according to the 2023 Canadian Venture Capital Private Equity Association fourth-quarter report.

The province’s growth rate means Alberta finished 2023 with $707 million invested over 86 deals, in line with Alberta’s 2022 record-breaking year. In contrast, Canada ended the year with a 31 per cent decline in investments. Over the past five years, Alberta technology companies have secured more than $2.7 billion in venture capital funding across 350 deals, creating thousands of jobs for Albertans.

“While Canada as a whole saw massive declines, Alberta has held steady. We are a major venture capital player in Canada, as technology drives growth across all sectors.”

Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation

Alberta’s two largest cities continued to attract investment dollars in 2023, with Calgary and Edmonton coming in fourth and fifth respectively for number of deals, with $501 million invested in 64 deals in Calgary and $188 million invested in 21 deals in Edmonton. Edmonton saw a 324 per cent increase from $58 million in 2022 to $188 million in 2023. In total, Alberta captured 10.3 per cent of dollars invested in 2023 and 13 per cent of venture capital deals in Canada.

“Edmonton’s tripling of venture capital investment in 2023 underscores our city’s position as a dynamic tech capital within Alberta’s thriving innovation ecosystem, reaffirming our role as a powerhouse driving technological advancement and economic prosperity across diverse sectors. It is the local innovators’ relentless pursuit of solutions to real-world problems, with the continuing support of the Government of Alberta, which not only attracts significant investment but also propels our city to the forefront of Alberta’s tech revolution and fosters job creation for our community.”

Launa Aspeslet, interim chief executive officer, Edmonton Unlimited

“At Platform Calgary we are working with our partners to continue this momentum by linking up high potential tech startups with the investors that can help them take their businesses to the next level. The evidence is clear, Alberta is emerging as one of the most exciting and resilient tech ecosystems in the world. Together with our growing tech community, we can secure Alberta’s position as the best place in the world for anyone to launch and grow a tech business.”

Terry Rock, president and chief executive officer, Platform Calgary 

Alberta remains a growing market for the technology and innovation sector, and Alberta’s government celebrates its steady contribution to the Alberta economy, including in the fourth quarter of 2023. The end of last year saw venture capital investments in the province increase by 35 per cent for dollars invested and 19 per cent for deals closed compared with the third quarter. There were 25 deals closed valued at a combined $173 million in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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Economy

Taxpayer watchdog slams Trudeau gov’t for increasing debt ceiling: ‘Put down the credit card’

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland authorized an additional $73 billion in borrowing this fiscal year.

After Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland gave herself and the government the authority to borrow an additional $73 billion this fiscal year, the head of the nation’s leading taxpayer watchdog group said the federal government needs to “put down the credit card” and return to common-sense spending.

Freeland, as per a February 15 cabinet order made under the Financial Administration Act, allowed the extra borrowing to take place.

The government has set “$517 billion to be the maximum aggregate principal amount of money that may be borrowed” before April 1. Before this cabinet order, however, the maximum amount was $444 billion.

Despite Freeland claiming that the increase in borrowing is “in no way a blank cheque,” Canadian Taxpayers Federation federal director Franco Terrazzano said the borrowing needs to end.

“The Trudeau government needs to put down the credit card and pick up some scissors,” Terrazzano told LifeSiteNews.

“The government should be cutting spending and balancing the budget, not racking up more debt for years to come.”

In 2021, Canada’s Parliament raised the federal debt borrowing amount by a whopping 56% under the Borrowing Authority Act. The amount went from $1.168 trillion to $1.831 trillion.

“What it does is set a ceiling for how much the government can spend,” Freeland said at the time.

Terrazzano told LifeSiteNews that the Trudeau government should be cutting spending and balancing the budget, not racking up more debt for years to come.

Terrazzano observed that in the coming year the Trudeau government will be spending “more money on debt interest charges than it sends to the provinces in health transfers.”

“In a handful of years, every penny collected from the GST (Goods and Service Tax) will go toward paying interest on the debt,” he noted.

Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, due to excessive COVID money printing, inflation has skyrocketed.

Last month, LifeSiteNews reported that fast-rising food costs in Canada have led to many people feeling a sense of “hopelessness and desperation” with nowhere to turn for help, according to the Canadian government’s own National Advisory Council on Poverty.

Last year, the Bank of Canada acknowledged that Trudeau’s federal “climate change” programs, which have been deemed “extreme” by some provincial leaders, are indeed helping to fuel inflation.

Terrazzano told LifeSiteNews that Trudeau should “completely scrap his carbon tax,” which is making everything more expensive.

Conservatives blast increased debt

Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) MPs have been critical of the raised debt ceiling. “You’re simply saying, ‘Give me a blank cheque and then trust me,’” MP Ed Fast said.

Freeland claimed that the “characterization of the borrowing authority limit as a blank cheque is simply false.”

CPC leader Pierre Poilievre recently asked, “Is there a dollar figure to which she would limit the debt?”

She replied that the government is “mindful that limits exist.”

During a February 13 Senate national finance committee meeting, Budget Officer Yves Giroux noted how Trudeau’s cabinet plans in terms of spending are not clear.

“We don’t know exactly what the government plans on spending or doing in terms of new spending or potential spending,” he said when asked by Senator Elizabeth Marshall if the new borrowing limits are “still realistic.”

Marshall added, “As it stands now, do you think it looks reasonable?”

“It looks sufficient, but the government always wants to give itself some room to maneuver in case there are unforeseen events that require borrowing on short notice,” Giroux replied.

A report from September 5, 2023, by Statistics Canada shows food prices are rising faster than headline inflation at a rate of between 10% and 18% per year.

According to a recent Statistics Canada survey of supermarket prices, Canadians are paying 12% more for carrots, 14% more for hamburger (ground meat), and 27% more for baby formula.

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