This document is presented by two Canadian civil engineers; one in mid-career, and the other long-retired after more than 40 years practicing as a consulting engineer. Historically, engineers have a long history of planning, design, construction, and innovation on a wide variety of projects. Thousands of years ago in Egypt they built pyramids and invented new irrigation technology. In the Greco-Roman period of Mediterranean empires, they developed innovative infrastructure and built massive structures. Far to the east they constructed the Great Wall to defend China, as well as the Grand Canal to connect two major rivers. Nearer to home, engineers played an important role in stitching the east and west of Canada together in the late 1800s with the design and construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).
The authors of this report have worked on a wide variety of development projects across Canada, and in over 40 other countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. This experience has identified in Canada some serious problems with the political structure of this 150 year old nation, and has generated ideas that would improve Canada as it moves into its next 50 years. The major problem seems to be a fiefdom mentality hangover from North America’s colonial past. The authors have concentrated on currently available facts, and realize that some of their ideas may be controversial in many parts of the country.
This document follows the typical format of many engineering reports as outlined below:
Definition of the Problem
Review of Similar Situations in Other Countries
Existing Relevant Data.
The Role of the Civil Engineer in Development.
Extensive Natural Resources
Possible Solutions to Problems.
Six Regions plus Canadian Capital Territory (CCT)
Canadian Utility Corridor (CUC)
Much Work – Big Future!
Re-engineering Canada is not a project for older professionals sitting philosophically in comfortable think-tank offices. We believe everyone can contribute to our initiatives. It must be developed, and adopted so the benefits are available for children in the future when Canada celebrates its 200th birthday in 2067, and beyond. There are some signs that this change has already started with recent proposals to reduce inter-provincial trade and professional barriers. However, there is much more that needs to be done to change Canada into a dynamic united country with an expanding and vibrant economy. The provincial government in British Columbia raises alarm bells where that government wants to stop the construction of an oil pipeline plus the development of a hydroelectric project that will produce thousands of megawatts of “"green"” electric power. This type of politics demonstrates a lack of clear thinking, and little regard for the Canadian environment or economy.
This document proposes radical changes that could significantly improve the lives of Canada’s citizens. It would be the authors’ objectives that, as the country celebrates its 200th anniversary, the colonial fiefdom mentality would have been totally eliminated. A Canadian citizen’s first loyalty is to their country, and only then to the province.
DEFINITION OF THE PROBLEM
Today Canada is a multi-cultural parliamentary democracy within the British Commonwealth with the British Monarch as the head of state. Canada is a member of every logical international organization and scores high on any list of desirable countries for future economic growth based on the present standard of living. Canada can do better!
Canada is currently divided into ten provinces and three territories that have a very wide variation in physical area, population size, and density. The provinces all maintain three levels of government; federal, provincial, and municipal, plus having vastly different economies. The territories have enormous land areas, miniscule populations and are basically governed and funded by the Federal government in geographically-distant Ottawa. Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the 1500s, Canada had a significant indigenous population whose ancestors had crossed a land or ice bridge from Asia to Alaska some 50,000 years earlier.
Only six provinces have direct access to ocean tidewater. Two have access to Hudson Bay which can only connect to the oceans during the summer season, and the other two provinces are land-locked. During recent years there have been outbreaks of fiefdom fever where the development of various pipelines from land-locked provinces is being opposed by their neighbouring provinces, and thus cause significant damage to the national and provincial economies and individual livelihood of Canadians. The two land-locked provinces are the largest producers of many natural resources and agricultural products in Canada.
During the Age of Discovery Christopher Columbus and James Cook, adventurous sea captains of different centuries, sailed into unknown seas and discovered the Americas (1492) and Australasia (1770) respectively. Columbus had been retained by the Spanish Monarch and Cook was an officer in the British Navy. Both explorers firmly planted the national flags of their respective European nations on the shores of these new lands. Both continents already had indigenous inhabitants but this did not deter the European explorers in claiming the lands for their respective European countries.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, explorers from many European nations followed the path of Columbus across the Atlantic to establish colonies in the Americas – the Spanish, British, French, Portuguese and Dutch were the most active colonizers. The European colonies in the Americas were established to provide economic benefits to European monarchs plus their friends, business partners and families. Thus colonies became fiefdoms, each one mainly interested in their own welfare and economies.
The British Crown claimed much of the east coast, and some of the west coast of North America. The French preferred the lands adjacent to large rivers and established colonies along the St. Lawrence estuary, upstream as far the Great Lakes, and also along the Mississippi river – both rivers gave them excellent access to the interior of the North American continent. The other European nations had plenty of territory to claim in South America, the southern regions of North America and around the Caribbean.
As European wars spread to North America, the French lost territory to Britain at the battle on the Plains of Abraham near Quebec City in 1759. Soon after that victory the immigrants in 13 of the British American colonies rebelled against rule and taxes from London, and the United States of America (USA) formally became an independent country in 1776. The individual American colonies morphed into individual states in the USA, with three levels of government.
The political leaders in some of the remaining British colonies decided they wanted more independence and chose negotiation instead of rebellion. The leaders of three mainland colonies met on Prince Edward Island in 1864, and agreed on a strategy that would lead to more independence. After due time and discussions the British North American Act (BNA) was passed by the British Parliament on July 1, 1867. The Dominion of Canada within the British Empire was created and the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick became provinces of Canada. The former British colony of Canada was soon split into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec (formally known as Upper and Lower Canada respectively). In time the two island colonies joined the Dominion of Canada – Prince Edward Island in 1873, the colony of Newfoundland & Labrador became a province of Canada in 1949. Regardless of the size, population, or land area of the new provinces the European fiefdom mentality was transferred across the Atlantic.
Rupert’s Land had been the name given to all lands draining from the Prairies east, of the Rockies into Hudson Bay, when the Hudson Bay Company was given a royal charter in 1670 by the British King Charles II. After the BNA became law, the charter was revoked by the British government and the lands became a territory within the new Dominion of Canada. Part of these lands became the province of Manitoba in 1870. The colony of British Columbia became a province in 1871 on condition that a transcontinental railway was built. Finally in 1905 Alberta and Saskatchewan were carved out of the Northwest Territories. Thus the Dominion of Canada spread from coast to coast to coast.
The parts of Canada that were former European colonies seem to have the greatest fiefdom mentality inherited from their colonial roots. The central prairie provinces that were created out of Rupert’s Land have the least. Over the past 150 years, these provinces were mainly populated by indigenous Canadians and new immigrants from other provinces and countries. Many of these immigrants were escaping wars, oppression, or famine in their native countries and brought their cultures and religious practices to Canada.
In recent years there has been a concentrated effort on the economic development of Canada’s vast mineral, energy and water resources in remote regions. At the same time there has been a new awareness of the impact that this development can have on the environment and the regional population. Thus any change in the economy or the environment in any part of Canada must be carefully studied so that the benefits far outweigh the negative impacts. It is safe to say that now in the third millennium, all changes need to come slowly and thoughtfully. The population has to have input at all times but it is important that when decisions are finally made in the national interest, the development of the projects cannot be hijacked by radical groups led by fiefdom politicians, or celebrity names from the entertainment world looking for publicity.
REVIEW OF SIMILAR SITUATIONS IN OTHER COUNTRIES
In the late 1700s the British seemed to have been the only nation interested in the Australasia region. Their initial plan for Australia was developed in consultation with some of the British loyalists who returned to the British Isles after the establishment of the USA. A fleet of 11 ships left Britain in 1787 with some 1500 people aboard. Half were convicts; the remainder were military personnel, loyalist settlers, plus women and children. The objective was to develop penal colonies rather than to derive any immediate direct economic benefit. The British were still smarting from the loss of their North American colonies in 1776 and wanted a different plan for Australia. During this period from 1788 to 1868 over 160,000 convicts (both men and women) were transported to Australia and located in a series of penal colonies in different parts of the Australian island continent. These penal colonies were located in states delineated mainly with straight lines. The largest state by land area was western Australia which comprised almost a third of the continental land area. A review of Australian maps in the 1800s and 1900s shows many changes in the boundaries between the states as the population increased. The term colony in Australia certainly had a different meaning as compared to the Americas!
The British had banished a wide variety of convicts ranging from thieves, murderers, and rebels as well as some with only minor offences who were tradesmen, farmers, etc. Australia was far away, the prisoners were unlikely to escape back to the British Isles, and would eventually become law-abiding tax-paying citizens in a new country.
Originally Australia had been established as a series of penal colonies but its population slowly grew with the arrival of other immigrants. By the mid-1800s it had an estimated population of one million, made up primarily of convicts and their descendants, and the indigenous population. Australia’s distance from the British Isles discouraged voluntary immigration in the early days. The development in the early 1800s of the coal-fired steam engine as a reliable means of propulsion for ships and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1859 meant that Australia gradually became a destination of choice for European immigrants. In the age of steam the voyage from Britain to Australia took six weeks as compared to the voyage to North America that took two - three weeks.
Australia became an independent country in January 1, 1901 when the Commonwealth of Australia within the British Empire was created. The country had gone through many internal boundary changes as the five penal colonies on the continent became states and territories. The island of Tasmania is a sixth state.
All states and territories have access to tidewater except the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Australia is different to Canada since it does not share a border with a super power. Australia has a similar land area to Canada and a smaller population mainly concentrated along the east and southeast coast. Like Canada it became a nation on the condition that the western territory was connected by rail with the main population centres in the east. This condition was met in 1917 when a 1920 kilometre long railway was completed which included a 290 kilometre section of straight track without any curves – the longest section of straight railway track in the world.
Both Canada and Australia can be classified as developed developing countries due to their low population density. Both countries are blessed with extensive natural resources, which are only valuable when they are produced, then transported to world markets for sale at international prices. In contrast to Canada, all the Australian states and the northern territory have year-round access to tidewater to export their materials and products. The ACT is an administrative territory whose only function is to manage the federal government.
Canada is a little older as a country, but can learn something from the Australian experience. Both countries can be defined as developed developing countries and have European roots, a significant indigenous population, and are still desirable countries for immigrants and refugees from all over the world.
EXISTING RELEVANT DATA
Canada is big in land area but small in population! Based on the 2016 census Canada has a population of 35.2 million persons on a land area of about nine million square kilometres, and a low population density of less than four persons per square kilometre. Russia, which is also the northern part of a large land mass, is the world’s largest country with a population of 143.5 million, a land area of about 17 million square kilometres and a population density of 8.4 persons per square kilometre. The contrasting recent numbers for the USA are 318.9 million persons, land area of 9.83 million square kilometres, and 32.4 persons per square kilometre. China and Brazil also have land areas similar to Canada but with much larger population densities. Australia has a population of about 24 million, a land area of 7.7 million square kilometres and a density of 3.1 persons per square kilometre. Thus by world standards, Canada and Australia can be considered as developed developing countries.
In Canada there is a tremendous difference in demographics and resources between the provinces and territories. Among the provinces, Ontario has the largest population at 13.45 million with a density of 14.8 persons per square kilometre in contrast to Prince Edward Island with a population of 142,907 and a density of 25.1 persons per square kilometre and Nova Scotia with the second highest population density at 17.4 persons per square kilometre. However, the province of Newfoundland & Labrador has a population of only 0.52 million with a land area of 0.37 million square kilometres and a density of 1.4 persons per square kilometre.
The province of Quebec is the largest province in area at 1.36 million square kilometres but smaller population density of 6.0 persons per square kilometre, which is similar to the population densities of Alberta and British Columbia.
By further contrast the three territories combined have a total population of 113,604 spread over an area of nearly 3.5 million square kilometres with a density of about 0.03 persons per square kilometre.
The present government system in Canada is based on a 200 year-old European political model and the country lives in the shadow of the world’s largest economy. Unfortunately, Canada has third world living conditions in some of the remote regions of the territories, in contrast to some of the world’s highest standards in major cities close to the US border.
Canada and Australia both have enormous natural resources, a well-educated population, and incredible development potential. However, Canada has the fiefdom mentality driven by the prevailing diversity of the provinces and territories which seems to prevent the development of a realistic master plan. In many ways, Canada’s development followed the pattern established in the USA where the fiefdom mentality also prevails with an enormous variation in state area, population size, and density. Yet each state has two representatives elected to the US Senate.
THE ROLE OF THE CIVIL ENGINEER
The civil engineers have an important speciality. They have a wide spectrum of engineering general knowledge, and know when to bring in and manage super specialists on projects. Most experienced civil engineers have a direct speciality which could be valuable on specific projects. Modern civil engineering has its origins in late 1700s Europe during the early days of manufacturing, where industry needed to improve the transportation of raw materials and completed goods through the hilly countryside. Canals had been used in the flat countries of Europe for many years. It was well known that horses could smoothly tow 100 tonnes or more in a barge, compared to maybe only a few tonnes in a cart on a bumpy road. When compared to roads, canals through variable topography demanded significant excavations, larger bridges and lift locks, etc. to operate. This required carefully selecting route locations, improved mapping, mathematical calculations and innovative construction ideas – thus civil engineering was born as a profession.
Formal university training for civil engineers started in the early 1800s. With the development of the steam engines and railways, there was enormous opportunities for their planning and design skills all over the world. Most other branches of engineering emerged later as specialities to complement basic civil engineering capabilities. In contrast, there have also been military engineers whose skills are to help wage wars, destroy enemy fortifications, and repair war damage, etc.
There are four historic civil engineers who played important roles in the development of Canada in the late 1800s and early 1900s, as Canada emerged as a new nation. The most important project was the development of the Canadian Pacific Railway to connect the east with the west and allow the settlement of the central prairies.
Sandford Fleming (1827 – 1915)
Sandford Fleming is best known for two activities related to railway development in Canada. He was given the task of finding the best route for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) railway across Canada. After extensive surveys, he selected a northern route that would connect with the Yellowhead Pass through the Rockies. His recommendation was rejected because it was too far north of the border with the USA, and the Canadian government was worried that there might be encroachment of the USA north of the 49th parallel. This route was later used for the Great Northern Railway (the current Canadian National (CN) railway track. Fleming is probably best known for the invention of Standard Time worldwide. This replaced thousands of local times. Fleming realized that long distance railways had schedules, and messages sent by telegraph needed date and time for record purposes. His concept of worldwide Standard Time solved these problems and is still in use today.
Major Albert Rogers (1829 – 1889)
As construction of the CPR advanced west across the Canadian Prairies, nobody knew the route that the railway would take through the Rockies. Major Rogers was given the task of finding the route and took off on horseback with a small party of surveyors and assistants. After driving his team to near exhaustion, Rogers found the route through the Selkirk Mountains and reported back to the design team at the railhead. His name is memorialized in the name of the route he discovered – Roger’s Pass.
William Van Horne (1843 – 1915)
William Van Horne was the chief engineer on the construction of the CPR advancing from the east with his office of mobile engineers, surveyors and designers in railcars that moved as the railhead advanced across the prairies. The project was on a tight schedule that had many political implications. The rail line advanced from the west and met the one from the prairies in Craigellachie on November 7, 1885 where the last spike was ceremoniously hammered into place, to connect the east and west of Canada. He is honoured by a street named after him in the Mile End district of Montreal.
Clarence Decatur (better known as C. D.) Howe (1886 – 1960)
C. D. Howe was an engineer, businessman and politician. He was instrumental in constructing numerous grain storage elevators in Port Arthur, Ontario at the west end of Lake Superior. Grain from prairie trains could be stored more efficiently prior to transport by ship to other locations on the Great Lakes. He was also instrumental in the development of the trans-Canada natural gas pipeline that would carry Alberta gas to Ontario in the 1950s.
In addition to these well-known historical names, a multitude of other engineers have contributed their expertise and experience to engineering Canada over the past 150 years. The development of large hydroelectric projects in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Labrador, has demonstrated their skills as well as the development of the St. Lawrence Seaway. A more recent example is the design and construction of the 22 kilometre long Confederation Bridge connecting Prince Edward Island to the mainland of Canada, which was completed in 1997.
Since the world price of oil rose dramatically in 1973 as a result of the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East, the energy industry has been a big employer of engineers with a couple of short-term slumps. A recent longer correction in the international price of oil and metals has caused a slump in the demand for engineers. It is important to provide productive work for these engineers or their expertise will be lost to Canada. Engineers have a long history of being mobile and could relocate to anywhere in the world where their skills are in demand. The re-engineering of Canada could provide a significant number of interesting engineering jobs over the coming decades.
EXTENSIVE NATURAL RESOURCES
Canada has been endowed with many economic advantages. The following review outlines some of those natural resources and physical advantages as compared to other countries:
Second largest land area
Longest coastline with potential for vast marine resources
Largest supply of fresh water
Third largest reserves of proven oil
Geology that includes the Precambrian Canadian Shield – a treasure trove of minerals
Enormous sedimentary formations that contain massive reserves of fossil fuels
Fertile agricultural land for general agricultural production in eastern Canada
Extensive flat prairie lands that produces vast quantities of grains, legumes and oil seeds
Topography that is suitable for large and small hydroelectric power generation
Many regions where "green" electricity can be produced by wind, solar or tidal technologies
Access to the Great Lakes by Ontario and Quebec for marine transportation
Land area that extends across 90 degrees of longitude
An underemployed, well-educated, and experienced work force
Canada extends from Windsor, Ontario, the most southerly city, to the Arctic islands – not far from the North Pole. From east to west, Canada stretches from eastern tip of the island of Newfoundland to the northern point of the border between the Yukon and the US state of Alaska – in longitude one quarter of the world’s circumference. Over 80% of the population lives in towns and cities within 200 kilometres of the US border. Canada has extensive coastline on the east and west with a temperate climate but the majority is in the Arctic. Canada’s geology is its treasure trove and contains vast quantities of resources in high demand around the world. It requires engineering expertise, skilled workers, capital investment, infrastructure development, and environmental management to extract them for customers in other countries. Unfortunately the current fiefdom problems obstruct the optimum economic return for Canada and its citizens. Solving this problem should be a top priority for the Canadian government over the next 50 years. This is the primary reason for preparation of this document.
Canada has a wealth of fresh water resources. A simplistic but conservative way of looking at the continental water resources of North America is to only evaluate the water available from the four major catchment basins as listed below which are each considered by experienced hydrologists to have an average annual flow of at least 12,000 cubic metres/second:
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River drainage basin – 50% Canada; 50% USA
Mississippi and Missouri River drainage basins – 100% USA
McKenzie River drainage basin – 100% Canada
The Hudson Bay drainage basin – 100% Canada
Two and a half of the fresh water supply capacity of these four drainage basins is controlled by Canada, and only one and a half by the USA. Considering that the population of the USA is about ten times that of Canada the simple conclusion is that Canada has an abundance of fresh water resources and could be a big exporter of freshwater to the USA. Two of these drainage basins flow north, McKenzie River and Hudson Bay, and are underutilized. There have been numerous previous engineering studies demonstrating how this northern water can be diverted south, but previous governments have always rejected any concept for exporting water to the USA for the fear that Canada might run short of fresh water. The actual engineering figures do not support this negative opinion.
With the review of NAFTA, an apparent priority of the current US government, the question of water sales to the USA could be a trump card in these negotiations as well as an interesting source of new export revenue. The capital works required to develop this new infrastructure would be very large and the construction of the facilities an enormous stimulus to the Canadian economy, and provide good employment for many civil engineers and contractors for generations. Water is a renewable resource and thus will never be exhausted!
It is also important to note that, with routine engineering design, it could be possible to combine water export infrastructure, with hydroelectric power generation and create pumped water energy storage on specific projects. This would be a triple win for Canada and the construction and operating costs would be covered by the water purchaser. Canada is the only country that can economically export water to the USA using a land connection.
According to 2017 statistics from the Canadian Hydropower Association Canada (CHAC), Canada already has about 75,000 megawatts of installed hydroelectric generation capacity, but still has at least another 160,000 megawatts to be developed in the future. British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon and Quebec have the greatest potential to increase hydroelectric power generation. Most provinces and territories have some potential except Prince Edward Island and maybe New Brunswick. This data only includes major conventional hydroelectric projects which involve large reservoirs and the flooding of valleys. While hydroelectric power generation is very "green" as far as greenhouse gases are concerned, the flooding of valleys can have negative environmental and socio-economic impacts. In contrast mini-hydro projects (10 megawatts or smaller) are not included in the CHAC data and these smaller projects can be developed with much lower impacts. Mini-hydro projects are appropriate in remote regions for smaller communities and can be adapted to include freshwater supply at little additional cost. This combination of electricity and fresh water could totally eliminate the need for diesel powered generation and water pumps for remote communities and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada is a world leader in the design and operation of high voltage direct current (HVDC) electrical transmission lines and they can be designed to span the country (on land and under water) with very small energy losses as well as to export to the USA. It is interesting to note that an HVDC cable was laid on the seabed in early 2017 to connect the electrical grid of the island of Newfoundland to the Nova Scotia grid on the mainland of Canada. This could be considered as an initial step of the development of a nation-wide HVDC electrical grid. The ultimate objective of the Canadian government must be to maximize "green" electrical energy production and have an HVDC energy distribution that reaches every corner of Canada with the excess power available for export to the USA through several cross-border connections.
Fossil fuels are a valuable resource but their use must be balanced with their environmental cost. Coal was the first fossil fuel used to initiate the Industrial Revolution and is slowly being phased out in the developed world because of the wide variety of harmful greenhouse gases produced when it is burnt to generate electrical energy. At the other end of the hydrocarbon spectrum, natural gas is a simple combination of hydrogen and carbon atoms which, when burnt, produces only water vapour and carbon dioxide – the least harmful hydrocarbon exhaust gas. There are signs in the developed world that coal-fired electrical generating plants are being converted to burn natural gas or being replaced with natural gas powered turbine generators.
As the "green" conscience of the world increases, fossil fuels will be managed with a keener sense of environmental responsibility; bringing the range of a raw material for manufacturing to fuel for specific transportation needs, heating or conversion and result in more environmentally friendly materials. Fossil fuels have a finite quantity available for future generations, so engineers and scientists are already working on future sources of energy to replace them.
The biggest challenge for engineers is how to fuel heavy-duty commercial transportation such as large passenger aircraft, ocean shipping, and long-distance highway trucks. The problem is how to replace the energy storage capacity and convenience of liquid energy derived from fossil fuels. The efficient storage of large wattage electrical energy is probably the biggest challenge for engineers now and into the future.
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS
On its 150th anniversary of confederation, Canada reached a crossroads with increasing disharmony between the federal and provincial governments. It is apparent to many citizens that the country does not know exactly how to move forward into the next 50 years and beyond. There does not seem to be a master plan prepared on a nation-wide basis.
Canada completed a very Conservative period of government in autumn 2015, and elected a very Liberal one; which came to power with a cornucopia of promises from its young and glamorous new leader who seems to have a dearth of experience in politics, business or an established profession. He is the son of a previous Prime Minister and hopefully some of that experience is in his genes.
Eighteen months into power, he has already reneged on two of his most important promises; namely to change the federal electoral system, and to re-start and improve the Canadian economy with shovel-ready infrastructure projects. The primary effort of the present government seems to be directed towards legalizing recreational marijuana that, many citizens consider, will have an overall negative impact on the health of citizens and the Canada’s economy.
A careful review of the qualifications of the 2015 Liberal Cabinet does show some good choices – 50 percent of the Cabinet are female plus the ministers of Health, Defence and Finance are a doctor, a decorated military officer, and a successful businessman respectively. The recent appointment of a different Minister of Foreign Affairs is also a good choice; a lady who is fluent in a number of languages including Russian. Having ministers selected for their past experience, rather than their political prowess, is a good start. Unfortunately, there did not appear to be a single engineer, let alone a civil engineer, in the Liberal Cabinet and this inevitably accounts for the lack of progress on the infrastructure file. Thus, as civil engineers with multi-country experience, the authors are presenting some ideas to assist the present government to develop a master plan for Canada and thus position themselves well for another win in the 2019 federal election.
This document presents some interesting ideas that may correct this problem and reduce the fiefdom effect left over from the European colonial times and in time dramatically improve the economy of Canada. After 150 years of confederation, Canada does not seem to have a defined master plan on how to steer the country over the next 50 years and away from the 1867 model.
Most cities or municipalities in Canada have such a plan with ever-changing boundaries and corridors for utilities. It is even more important that the nation should have a master plan, should regularly reconsider provincial boundaries, and plan for a dedicated utility corridor to avoid battles between the fiefdoms.
SIX REGIONS PLUS CANADIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
Australia seems to manage quite well with five continental states and two territories (plus the island state of Tasmania). One of the Australian territories is Australian Capital Territory (ACT) which is 2,260 square kilometres in area and a population of about 400,000. ACT is squeezed between the eastern states of New South Wales and Victoria, which are the main centres of population. Australia’s capital city, Canberra, is located in the ACT and it is the federal capital of Australia.
In many ways Canada’s fiefdom mentality is similar to its enormous continental neighbour where the state of California has a population greater than Canada. In contrast the state of Wyoming has less than two percent of California’s population. Land areas also have similar differences when the state of Alaska is compared to Rhode Island – the smallest state in the USA and less than one percent of the land area. The better model for Canada is to study Australia.
It should be possible to re-engineer Canada by reducing the number of provinces, changing some of the boundaries and replacing them with six regions and with only one territory – Canadian Capital Territory (CCT). Because Canada is not an island and has long borders with the USA, it would be necessary to also develop the Canadian Utilities Corridor (CUC) that would interconnect all the new Canadian regions and come under the direct control of the Canadian federal government in Ottawa effectively becoming part of the CCT.
CCT could be a 2,000 square kilometre territory carved out the current provinces of Ontario and Quebec, with the new city of Ottawa contained within its borders, but spanning the Ottawa River to also include the present city of Hull. CCT would be the seat of the Canadian federal government and the expanded Ottawa would be the capital city of the reincarnated Canada. However, before regions, CCT or CUC can be considered, there needs to be a detailed study of the current situation of Canada with the emphasis on the interaction of politics and economy. The current three territories would be integrated into the new regions thus reducing the communication distances between northern and southern Canada.
These changes would streamline the various levels of government to make the regions more equal in size, population, and economy with smaller combined government overhead. This should make the country friendlier to business and economic development. This change would require extensive study, substantial investment, and negotiation over many years. This proposal relates only to changing boundaries and governmental responsibilities, not relocation of population.
The following points are some of the aspects of Canada that would have to be carefully considered, before regions could be developed to replace the current provinces and territories:
Population – the approximate head count of individuals between the ages of 18 and 65 to more evenly spread the productive populations between the regions.
Indigenous homelands & treaties– to address the impact of First Nation ancestral rights and culture, past treaties, political and historical promises, and how these can be transferred to the new regions.
Real economy – this would include all aspects of the economy including industry, specialist services, resource extraction, agriculture, aquaculture, tourism, retail, information, digital development, unique local economies, etc.
Average annual personal taxable income – or any numbers that track the wealth and annual income of the population in the regions.
Cost of housing index – any index number that represents the percentage of personal income that is spent on housing in the new regions.
Access to tidewater – international transportation, export/import opportunities, international trade, tourism, aquaculture, etc.
Freshwater supply – including domestic supply, agriculture and industrial, potential for exports to USA.
Access to "green" electricity generation – hydro, nuclear, wind, solar, tidal or gas turbine electricity, etc. generation.
Transportation – highway, rail, airports, pipelines, port facilities for freshwater and saltwater transportation.
Border with the USA – each new region should have a land border with one of the lower 48 states of the USA.
Resources extraction – metals, salts, liquid petroleum, heavy oil, natural gas, coking coal, etc.
Agriculture, timber, and fishing production – the need for getting bulk products from different parts of Canada to markets before and after processing into value-added products.
CANADIAN UTILITY CORRIDOR (CUC)
The CUC is an integral part of the re-engineering of Canada because it makes sure that the fiefdom mentality has been eliminated and does not carry over into the new regions and the CCT.
The federal government needs to establish the CUC that would be a series of interconnecting land corridors between the regions. Under direct control of the Federal government, would allow access and free-flow of all products so that all of Canada could benefit from the abundance that exists. An important feature of the CUC is that it would connect to tidewater ports on the east, west, and north coasts of Canada. The location of the CUC can only be decided after the boundaries of the new regions are delineated. The width of the CUC would probably vary greatly across the country and this may require that Canadians living within the boundaries of the CUCs be compensated. Using the human body as an analogy, the CUC would become the arteries of the new Canadian body parts where the commodities and products would flow freely like blood in the human arteries for the benefit of the entire body.
MUCH WORK – BIG FUTURE!
Nobody knows the future! Canada can plan into the future and work hard to make a better future happen. One thing is certain; Canada should not live in the past. In 2067 Canada’s population will have increased to 55 million or more, but still our population density will be low when compared to other developed countries.
If the ideas proposed in this document are followed, the Canadian Dream will be more evenly spread out in six new regions with each region having access to ocean tidewater, lower utility costs and a more balanced economy. The country will be more manageable with six regions, and development of the Canadian north will be directed from the regions with a more positive impact on the Canadians living in remote areas. The CUC will be under direct control of the federal Canadian government based in the CCT. The present Territories will have been incorporated into the new regions and all their development managed from the closer regional capitals. The CUC will contain all the primary modes to transport goods and products. The borders of the CUC will be invisible to the eye and only shown on engineering drawings and special maps. The CUC would include roads, railways, pipelines, HVDC electric transmission lines, communication cables, canals, etc.
When these changes take place Canada’s economy and environmental progress would be the envy of the developed world based on the following results:
Canada would be exporting freshwater to the USA in quantities, and at locations which would not impact water supply to the regions of Canada.
The vast majority of electrical power in Canada would come from renewable sources. The only fossil fuel used for power generation would be in remote communities and would be produced using natural gas.
The vast majority of hydrocarbons (with the exception of natural gas) would be used as raw material in the manufacture of products.
The vast majority of domestic land vehicles would be electric or powered by natural gas or hydrogen but heavy duty transportation would still require liquid fuels.
In 2067 Canada would still be a country of choice for immigrants and refugees from around the world. It would still be a vast country with a small population and 200 years of political experience as a democracy and many new immigrants will be arriving annually to keep the economy advancing. The demographics of Canada would be different – less European and more multi-cultural.
The government of Canada should give its citizens a dynamic belated 150th birthday present – by embarking on a bold initiative of consolidating Canada’s ten provinces and three territories into six regions and one Canadian Capital Territory (CCT) along the same pattern as Australia. In addition, a Canadian Utility Corridor (CUC) should be developed simultaneously so that all regions would have access via the CUC to tidewater on the Atlantic, Pacific or Hudson Bay coasts. The CUC would be effectively an extension of the CCT and be under direct control of the federal government. All new pipelines, high voltage direct current (HVDC) electrical transmission lines, canals and railway lines and other means of transporting goods, raw materials, etc. would be routed within the CUC.
These actions would require extensive study and engineering design prior to becoming a reality. The entire process of the proposed change would take at least 50 years to complete.
The end purpose of these proposed radical changes to Canada would to eliminate the fiefdom mentality inherited from past European colonial times in North America, reduce the cost of government, increase exports and more equitably distribute the natural resources of Canada between the new regions as compared to the former provinces and territories. Eliminating the northern territories and connecting their development and economy to their southern neighbours will be better than having everything controlled out of distant capital city.
The proposed changes may take the next 50 years or more to complete, but it must be started as soon as possible. This document suggests a feasible way to start the process, but obviously this needs much additional study and input from many people and organizations. Canada’s natural resources are its treasury but most of them are still padlocked in the ground, or frozen by past and present bureaucracy. Historically, it took straight-thinking engineers to overcome development problems. The authors believe that engineers could get this reincarnation of Canada started providing they have the support of all levels of government.
After their victory in autumn 2015, the present government announced that infrastructure development was a way to get Canadians working again. The country recently celebrated 150 years since confederation, and the midpoint between federal elections. It's time for government action.
The first step is simple. Develop a terms of reference for a pre-feasibility study that would employ maybe six to ten Canadian professionals for a six-month period, examine the ideas presented in this document in more depth, then prepare a formal report. The personnel should have 10 to 20 years of varied experience, and the team should contain at least two civil engineers. The team should come from different provinces of Canada so it is a cross-Canada team of individual multi-discipline professionals.
There is no indication of financial or political cost in this document. This will emerge as the ideas are expanded and adopted. This first step requires a relatively small budget. Future costs would be determined as the project evolves over 50 years. However, there is little doubt that the costs will generate enormous new activity, and the return on the investment will be large.