The Draw of Natural Resources

First Nations as well as Europeans settled Canada originally because of its abundant natural resources. Those resources continue to play a major role in the nation’s economy. Statistics Canada currently values Canada’s top three natural resources assets at a combined $372 billion. The proportion of that total for each resource is as follows:

Timber – 58%

Energy – 25%

Minerals – 17%

Ownership, Extraction and Development

The enormous value of Canada’s natural resources means that questions of ownership have great economic significance and, for Indigenous Canadians, cultural significance as well.

Under the common law, land ownership carries with it many rights including an entitlement to extract and use resource on and in the land. However, the common law has largely been supplanted by federal and provincial laws which reserve to the provinces the ownership of many natural resources, including those on private land.

The Constitution Act 1982 – s.92A. – gives provinces nearly all rights concerning natural resources, while the federal government retains rights to natural resources in the territories and the offshore zones.

But even where natural resources are privately owned outright, or specifically leased, there are numerous restrictions on extraction, including environmental protection laws, common law “nuisance” prohibitions and taxation or royalty charges.

For assistance with any issue relating to the use of natural resources, contact Pappin Law.