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Open passage of prosperity

It was a bit more than a couple of years ago when I found myself in a little hot water with some others in this up-and-down industry for suggesting climate change may not necessarily be such a bad thing for us here in the crazy white Northland.

It was black and white to them. Climate change is bad, end of story.

That was usually followed by the mandatory grumblings about how we're going to leave the Earth in a state of gloom, doom and despair for our grandchildren — and where do we get off expecting them to fix all the horrible mistakes we made anyway?

So, it's been kind of fun for me all these years later reading opinion pieces or listening to talking heads ramble on about how we may benefit from a slight temperature increase.

Yes. There is a very good chance that things might work out pretty well for us crazy Canucks, and that was the point I was trying to make years ago.

Right off the bat, we may see a dramatic improvement in our potential for navigation, as the Northwest Passage watches apprehensively as the sea ice decides it's time to put some distance between them and slowly, but surely, moves away.

The Northwest Passage has never been viewed as being anywhere near as commercially acceptable for shipping as the passages overseen by Mother Russia, but, turn up the Earth a couple of degrees, and that just might change in fast order.

It's been noted in some circles that the reduction of sea ice could very well lead to better passageways that could lower the time it takes to sail between Asia and the West by upwards of three weeks.

What that means in the world of commerce can be summed up in just one little word – money! And lots of it!

Canada has long claimed sole ownership of the Northwest Passage, but that claim has always been met with a wink and a nod by a number of countries and, should the day arrive when everyone concurs the Northwest Passage is about to become open for commercial shipping all-year round, that claim will most-assuredly be challenged.

And, if you're one of those folks who thinks our claim to the passage is a righteous one that will stand-up under international scrutiny, not only will I take your bet, but I'll give you odds, as well.

There are many folks who tremble at the notion of the Northwest Passage being open to shipping year-round – and not wrongly so, in some regards – because of the potential for an environmental disaster in one of the most pristine and vulnerable environments remaining in the world.

The thing is, however, the points raised together amount to a good thing.

We (Canada) cannot undertake the responsibility of policing environmental concerns on our own because we simply don't have the capacity to do so.

Intense negotiations within the international community will heat-up rapidly the moment it's agreed the passage is on the cusp of becoming open to shipping year-round.

But, should that day arrive – and it will – Canada must be ready to take advantage of the incredible – almost incomprehensible – amount of potential the Northwest Passage will possess.

And we get there through negotiation and co-operation with the international community on developing the waterway more as a steward than a sole owner.

Our country will be in place to reap enormous economic benefits from an open Northwest Passage. I’ll wager once those benefits start rolling in and we begin to see massive improvements to our existing infrastructure – as well as the construction or purchase of needed infrastructure we do not currently possess – the majority of Canadians will happily go with the flow, rather than try to row against the current of international opinion.

And, with a little luck and proper planning, the piece of the Earth we hand over to our grandchildren just may not be in such horrific shape after all.

This opportunity is going to present itself to us. We just need to be ready when it does!