Topic: Does Canada’s diverse environment, its economy and its population distribution make it more or less difficult to govern?

Topic: Does Canada’s diverse environment, its economy and its population
distribution make it more or less difficult to govern?


5974461 Group 1

Topic: Does Canada’s diverse environment, its economy and its population
distribution make it more or less difficult to govern?

Needless to say, governing a country is a challenging task. In today’s global
environment, political decisions must be made while taking into consideration many
variables. Decisions made on a national level can have unintended consequences far
beyond the boarders and may deteriorate international trade and ruin the country’s image
on the international level. Quantifying the difficulties associated with governing a
country is not a trivial task, as each country has it subtleties and nuances. Not to mention
different political systems and values. In Canada, being a successful leader implies being
able to satisfy various groups of people.However, governance is complicated due to our
diverse environment, economy and population distribution. This paper will first focus the
discussion on Canada’s environment and economy, two factors that are interrelated, and
finally discuss the people that make up Canada today.

Firstly, complexities arise when trying to please various groups. Canada is a vast
country with a diverse environment. In fact, Canada is divided into 15 ecozones, each
with different climate, vegetation, landform, and soil(Parcs Canada, 2009). Each ecozone
has its unique characteristics that favor certain natural resources over others. This has an
important implication as natural resources contribute to the prosperity, or lack thereof, of
regional economies(eConcordia, 2012). Similarly tomost industrialized countries, the
Canadian economy is mainly supported by the service sector. In fact, the service sector
represents approximately 71.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while the
industry sector 26% and agriculture sector 2.2% (Central Intelligence Agency). However,
because of Canada’s vast abundance of natural resources, the primary sector still plays an
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important role in the overall economy.The abundance of resources includes the
Athabasca oil sands that are located in Alberta.The oil sands make Canada the third
largest oil reserve in the world(Government of Alberta, 2012). Canada is also a large
exporter of metals and minerals. In fact, 22.8% of our total exports are mineral and
metals, including gold, iron and steel, aluminum, coal, and nickel (Natural Resources
Canada, 2012). Furthermore, the Prairie ecozone favors agriculture that in turn makes
Canada a large exporter of canola, wheat and soybeansthat generate more than
$40billion(Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2012).We notice that certain provinces
contribute much more to the economy than others. This implies that resource-rich
provinces might have a greater say in policymaking while others are discriminated.
Issues regarding natural resources often become political.Regional economies
depend on different sectors of the economy. The inequities pertaining to the uneven
distribution of resources result in an uneven distribution of wealth and employment
opportunities. To illustrate, primarily as a result of the petroleum industry that fostered in
Alberta, the province has a strong economy. In 2010, the GDP per capita in Alberta was
$70,826 compared to the Canadian average of$47,605. As energy prices continue to rise,
the economy is expected to gain as extracting and exploring the oil becomes increasingly
attractive (Statistics Canada, 2012). In contrast, provinces in the Atlantic that mainly rely
on fishing, tourism, and agriculture have become less fortunate as the fishing industry has
deteriorated in the 20th century due to overfishing. The 2010 GDP per capita in Nova
Scotia was $38,475, $34,937 in Prince Edward Island, and $39,117 in New Brunswick,
all significantly less than of Alberta and Saskatchewan (GDP of $60,878 per
capita).Employment opportunities are scarce in the Atlantic Provinces, leading to
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significantly higher than average unemployment rates. This creates a complex dilemma.
Should the government subsidize the poorer provinces? Logically, the wealthier
provinces will fund the subsidy. Thus, how should politicians go about satisfying both
Leaders have to find a balance between prioritizing the sectors and regions that
generate the most revenue in terms of taxes to the government and promoting the isolated
areas of the country that are unattractive for immigration and thus unfavorable for job
creation and employment. Considering that the vast majority of Canadians are
concentrated in Quebec and Ontario, and the fact that these two provinces generate more
than half of the country’s GDP, it is clear how these provinces can influence the decisions
of the government(Statistics Canada, 2011). In recent news, Quebec has devised an
economic development plan called “Plan Nord” to revitalize the economy of Northern
Quebec by exploiting its natural resources. The plan’s ambassadors claim that over a
period of 25 years, $80 billion will be invested which will create on average 20,000 jobs
per year and provide for much needed revenue to the region(Government of Quebec,
2011). While interest groups supported the initiative, many have opposed such a plan for
various reasons, including that it is an inappropriate way to use taxpayers’ money.
Furthermore, the government not only has the responsibility to support and
promote its key industries, they simultaneously have the responsibly to promote
sustainability. Earlier we mentioned the situation in Atlantic Canada where overfishing
has severely impacted the industry. To respond to the depletion of fish, the government
lowered fishing quotas so to allow the fish population to increase. This in turn increased
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unemployment(eConcordia, 2012). In contrast, the Alberta’s oil sands that unarguably
generate large sums of money to the government but pollute the environment have yet to
be strictly regulated. Anti-pollution and emission laws that have been implemented are
not always enforced and are often lenient. A recent study found that: “Present levels of
some contaminants pose an ecosystem or human health risk. The effects of these
pollutants on ecosystem and public health deserve immediate and systematic study.
Projected tripling of tar sands activities over the next decade may result in unacceptably
large and unforeseen impacts to biodiversity, ecosystem function, and public health“
(Timoney & Lee, Does the Alberta Tar Sands Industry Pollute? The Scientific Evidence,
2009). And in recent news, it was reported the oil sands exceed the pollution limits put in
the place (The Canadian Press, 2012). It begs the question would the government put
stricter emission controls and restrictions on the petroleum industry if it was not
producing a constant stream of revenue to the government?
Another substantial factor that adds to the complexity is not only the way
Canada’s population is distributed but also who make up the people of Canada. Firstly,
there is the linguistic and cultural aspect. On the federal branch, English and French are
both considered official languages of Canada. However, in 1977, the National Assembly,
effectively making French the sole official language in Quebec, passed Bill 101. Bill 101
and 22 created much controversy across the country and reignited the debate on Quebec’s
sovereignty. Sovereignty is another topic altogether, but nonetheless important to be
mentioned in this discussion as Quebec is the second most populated province,
accounting approximately 23% of the total population (Statistics Canada, 2012).
Furthermore, Quebec has often clashed with the federal government over certain issues.
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For instance, recently the federal government has decided to abolish the national gun
registry citing that it would be wasteful and ineffective, however, Quebec plans to
continue the program in the province. The federal government did not want to hand
records collected within the province, but a judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to
destroy the records (Tu & Rhéal, 2012). As illustrated, Quebec most definitely makes the
governing of Canada a complex and complicated task. As noted above, Quebec has a
large population and thus can sway an election. Therefore, a leader must understand the
cultural differences between Quebec and Canada. In addition,immigration policies
implemented by previous governments made Canada a hotspot for immigration in
previous generations and current. Today, Canada is culturally diverse. One of the great
aspects of Canadian society is that we accept and allow people to keep their culture in
Canada, unlike in the United States where assimilation usually takes place. This created a
population with vastly different values and opinions regarding social, economical,
environmental and political issues, however most Canadians consider material wellbeing,
equality, quality of life, and independence to be important values (Brooks, 2011).
Politicians must appeal to a wide range of values to gather enough votes to win an
To conclude, as we have seen, Canada’s diverse environment, its economy and its
population distribution make it a complex country to govern, as it is hard to
simultaneously please many groups of people. We have seen how regional economies are
influenced by different sectors of the economy and how as a result wealth is unevenly
distributed among provinces. In addition, we have seen how Quebec adds complexity to
the mix, mostly because of our linguistic and cultural differences. And finally how
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immigration has changed our population and as a result the way elections are won.
Works Cited
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. (2012, February 27). Agri-Food Trade Service.
Retrieved September 30, 2012, from Agri-Food Trade Service:
Brooks, S. (2011). Canadian Democracy. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.
Central Intelligence Agency. (n.d.). The World Factbook . Retrieved September 30,
2012, from The World Factbook:
eConcordia. (2012). Canada’s Varied Environment. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from
Introduction to Canadian Politics:
eConcordia. (2012). Lesson 2: Welcome to Canada. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from
Introduction to Canadian Politics:
Government of Alberta. (2012). Alberta’s Oil Sands. Retrieved September 30, 2012,
from Government of Alberta:
Government of Quebec. (2011). About the Plan Nord . Retrieved September 30, 2012,
from PLan Nord:
Natural Resources Canada. (2012, June). Mineral Trade. Retrieved September 30,
2012, from Mineral Trade:
Parcs Canada. (2009, 02 05). Terrestrial Ecozones of Canada. Retrieved October 2,
2012, from Parcs Canada:…/ecozone_e.pdf
Publication du Quebec. (n.d.). Charter of the French language. Retrieved from
Statistics Canada. (2012, April 27). Gross domestic product by industry: Provinces and
territories, 2011. Retrieved September 30, 2012, from Gross domestic product by
industry: Provinces and territories, 2011:
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Statistics Canada. (2011, November 8). Gross domestic product, expenditure-based, by
province and territory . Retrieved September 30, 2012, from Gross domestic product,
expenditure-based, by province and territory :
Statistics Canada. (2012, September 7). Labour force characteristics, seasonally
adjusted, by province (monthly) . Retrieved September 30, 2012, from Statistics
Statistics Canada. (2012, April 11). Population and dwelling counts, for Canada,
provinces and territories, 2011 and 2006 censuses. Retrieved September 30, 2012,
from Statistics Canada:
The Canadian Press. (2012, September 11). Oilsands to exceed Alberta’s new
pollution limits, say documents. Retrieved September 30, 2012, from CBC News:
Timoney, K. P., & Lee, P. (2009). Does the Alberta Tar Sands Industry Pollute? The
Scientific Evidence. The Open Conservation Biology Journal, .
Tu, T. H., & Rhéal, S. (2012, September 10). Judge sides with Quebec in long-gun
registry battle . Retrieved September 30, 2012, from The Globe and Mail:


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