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Understanding the tension between Arctic environmental protection and the Canadian government's approach to offshore oil and gas development

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The balance between resource development and environmental protection has always been a difficult one. Nowhere is this more true than in the Arctic, a vital ecosystem whose future is at the forefront of climate change. While Canada has committed itself to Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) as the system through which the state will manage and protect its fragile northern land and seascapes, the extent to which this commitment is upheld by the current federal government is unknown. This research project will establish that Canada has only developed and incorporated its EBM system, within its framework for offshore oil and gas development, to a minimal extent. Such a baseline will be established through the assessment of relevant Canadian legislation and regulations along the North Pacific Marine Science Organization’s (PICES’s) typology on EBM. Environmental, political and economic variables at play in the Arctic will also be considered to reveal the Conservative government’s active efforts to prepare, as well as facilitate, the future development of resource projects in the North. Accordingly, this research project will shed further light on the inherent tension that lies at the heart of resource development and environmental protection.
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