Canada, an underestimated hydrocarbon and mining power, must develop an economy less reliant on its natural resources. The new government goes green.


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In 1904, then Canadian Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier said, “The 19th century was the century of the USA. In my view, Canada will dominate the 20th”. Though Laurier’s patriotic pride had perhaps gotten the better of him, the 21st century could offer some belated consolation. In an increasingly globalized world, with a growing appetite for raw materials and technology, Canada has just what is takes to play a central role. “We Europeans underestimate Canada because we compare it with its neighbour, the USA, which is a superpower. In reality, Canada is a rich and multicultural country with enormous potential”, said an Italian diplomat with significant experience in North America.

To understand Canada’s potential, one must begin with the land, a resource that the country has in abundance: almost ten million square kilometres. Although only 5% of it is suitable for agriculture, Canada is one of the breadbaskets of the world thanks to a highly industrialized agricultural sector. Its cereal crops feed Asians and Arabs and, in the past, even Soviets. A Russian joke in the ’60s had the punch line that Khrushchev sows grain in Kazakhstan and harvests it in Canada. Canadian durum wheat even ends up in Italian pasta; in 2012, Italy imported 670,000 tonnes of it.

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