Amused and confused pretty much describes how I feel about what’s going on in Ottawa nowadays as Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to shake things up; first with the recent prorogation of Parliamentary but more importantly to the mining industry, the changing of the guard, so to speak, in Cabinet and specifically by replacing the Minister of Natural Resources… again!
For reasons beyond my understanding, the Minister responsible for mining in Canada seems to be the most targeted of all when it comes time to shuffle bodies.
In the past 15 years since the Natural Resources portfolio was introduced, Prime Ministers Chrtien, Martin and now Harper have gone through eight Ministers, none of which were hardly at their posts long enough to make a butt print in their Rightful seats.
In fairness, Ralph Goodale (June 11, 1997-January 14, 2002) did hold the title for just over four and a half years which I guess was long enough to make a good impression (in his seat at least), but the other seven barely lasted long enough to dent the leather.
Regardless of the reason for their short tenures as Ministers of Natural Resources, what concerns and confuses me most about their lengths of time in office is how little time they actually got to understand the real issues at hand and more importantly, how little time they had to do anything about them.
After all, and regardless of what job one has, I’m convinced it takes a good year to get your feet wet and feel relatively comfortable with what you’re doing. I know that’s a long time in politics but honestly, the job of Minister of Natural Resources, deserves a longer commitment from the government.
Ministers are too important to their industries and to Canada as a whole and I’m convinced that short-term leaders truly hurt their industry in the long run.
Adding to my concern is also the fact that none of the eight ministers given the responsibility for the mining industry since the Ministry of Natural Resources came into being in 1995 had or have any mining background. Five of the eight were/are lawyers and the other three have backgrounds in Economics and Commerce.
I’m pleased the latter three were closer to mining than law, but what I’d really like to see would be a Minister with a mining background, or at least someone with a closer understanding of the industry and what it takes to make it work.
Perhaps a man like Peter Brown for instance, founder of Canaccord Capital, who not only knows the mining industry after nearly four decades of helping finance much of Canada’s junior mining industry through his company, but also because he personally knows many of the industry’s players on a first-name basis and he speaks their language.
It’s probably not fair to put Mr. Brown’s name in print as someone who I think would make an ideal candidate for Minister of Natural Resources because I don’t even know if he’d be interested in the job, but I do know his profile as an industry man and he’s the kind of person I think the government needs.
The mining industry also thinks highly of Mr. Brown’s credentials and would probably support what I’m suggesting because the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame just inducted Peter Brown into the Hall and as every mining person in Canada knows, that’s one of the highest votes of confidence anyone associated with mining in this country can get.
The highest, in my opinion, is still that of the Minister of Natural Resources but until the government puts someone more in tune with mining into that seat for a longer stint, mining in Canada is in for short-term leadership and I’m not amused.