CSR in Canada, Part Four: Natural Resources Management





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Published on Apr 2, 2012

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Interview with Lorraine Smith, Consultant for Canadian Business for Social Responsibility. Part 4.

I think one of the key things Canadians have to bare in mind and any others thinking of doing business here is that the economy here still relies largely on resources or raw materials, agriculture is still a huge part. Canada exports more pulses than any other country, which makes you wonder what is a pulse, peas, chick peas, beans and lentils. In fact, a huge source of protein from the planet a large percentage of which comes from Canada. And we export the vast majority that we produce. Those types of economic realities are in fact, critical to understanding sustainability here. It speaks to land use, soil preservation, water use, communities that are affected by agricultures. I think sometimes the dialogue of corporate social responsibility is too focused on corporate and loses the social responsibility. And in a country like Canada you very quickly zoom into the grassroots whether it is mining metals and minerals or oil and gas or agricultures.

It is tempting to see things like, well Canada has a lot of raw materials or a lot of resource based economic activity. That is so different from china which is ramping up its manufacturing like crazy and making lots of goods. Well, note how connected these things are in at least two major ways. One, it is difficult to make machinery that makes things without steel. And steel is made from several different components, many of which are mined in large part in Canada. Not coincidentally, in large part China is interested in some of Canada's metals and minerals. The work is taking place here in Canada. So it is important to realize that no manufacturing happens without steel and a lot of the steel and/or components of steel still come from Canada. And there was another piece to that. China.

The other important aspect is the extremely rapid growth of the Chinese economy has also redirected a lot of attention towards countries that still have a lot of resources available. So China, for example, has expressed a lot of interest in a company called Potash which has its large operations in Saskatchewan in Canada's prairies and is critical to the global agriculture scene today. So we cannot divorce the large growth of manufacturing in China, from the resource economy in Canada. And we have to note Canada has lots of consumers, lots of resources, lots of more consumer goods focused economic activity as well. So it is all connected and Canada is sort of a micro-cosm of the whole supply chain I would say.

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