Britons understand that no land is dispensable – it’s a shame that Canada hasn’t come to the same conclusion.
THERE are few certainties in life – death and taxes being notable exceptions. But I think I might have discovered another certainty to add to the list – that is, if the trend continues.
It’s become a de facto certainty that whenever Canada is mentioned in the media here in the UK, it is the result of an environmental policy.
It’s not difficult for me to see why Britons and other Europeans are baffled by some of Canada’s policies.
The huge contrast of Canada – a country spoiled with land and resources – and Europe – a continent that treasures its few resources which have been ravaged by thousands of years of human activity – will inevitably lead to clashes.
Take the recent row over Canada’s asbestos industry. Europeans are baffled because Canada seems to be the only country in the developed world which is disregarding the serious health concerns raised by scientists and physicians. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which has proven links with exposure to asbestos, and it has claimed many lives in Canada and around the world.
In Europe, the idea that a developed nation like Canada is continuing to mine asbestos and sell it to the developing world is anathema.
But for Canadians, asbestos is just one of the many natural resources that Canada relies on to bring money into the economy.
The Canadian government is under pressure to change its stance. Whatever decision they make, it must be based on thorough research and sound science.
Asbestos is not the only thing giving Canada a bad name in the UK. Earlier this year, I watched a programme called Arctic with Bruce Parry. BBC presenter Bruce Parry travelled to northern Alberta, where the oil industry has changed the face of the landscape in order to extract oil from the sands. The purpose of the documentary was not to be critical of the oil industry, but to shed light on how people live in northern climates. However, Bruce Parry couldn’t mask his sadness when he toured the area in a helicopter and saw the scale of the operation.
Many Canadians will argue that Britons should not judge what Canada does within its own borders.
But living in a nation like Britain, it is impossible not to be concerned. No matter where you live in the UK, be it Wales or London, houses are small and built on a small footprint, and land for industry is nearly impossible to obtain. Britain simply doesn’t have land which it considers “dispensable”. Britons know that there is no such thing.
I have begun to understand that view point - anyone who has ever spent a significant amount of time here in the UK would understand.
It wouldn’t hurt for leaders – on both sides of the Atlantic – to see how easily their perceptions would change if they were forced to walk a mile in each other’s shoes.