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Tyee's Anderson on CBC radio today discussing Norway's oil wealth lessons for Canada

Mitchell Anderson, who travelled to Norway to report for The Tyee how that country of under five million people has managed its oil wealth differently than has Canada, will be a guest this afternoon on the CBC radio show On the Coast, which airs from three to six on AM690 and FM 88.1.

The second in Anderson's series of reports runs today on The Tyee. Last week's opener framed the series by asking "what is the future of Canada's petroleum sector? Has our country done an adequate job negotiating resource rents that protect the interests of Canadian taxpayers? Ensuring worker safety or protecting the environment? Building a national consensus around the development of this globally important resource? Providing a lasting economic legacy for future generations?

"It seems the debate in Canada has become so polarized that it is impossible to clarify these questions without looking elsewhere for answers. So The Tyee sent me to Norway to try and shed new light on our own resource economy and see what lessons could be learned."

Norway provides a compelling comparison, wrote Anderson, providing its citizens "free university tuition, universal day care and 25 days of paid holidays per year. Per capita spending on health care is 30 per cent higher in Norway; funding for arts and culture is more than three times higher than Canada.

"How is all this paid for? Since the 1970s, Norway as a matter of policy has collected between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of the resource wealth generated from their oil industry through corporate taxes twice as high as Canada, and a special tax on oil profits. In Alberta, royalties collected on all oil sands production in 2010 were 10 per cent of industry revenues.

"Norway also required that foreign companies train Norwegian workers, transfer proprietary technologies to their state-owned oil company Statoil, and in some cases even hand over producing oil platforms free of charge after a predetermined period.

"This insistence on national participation has paid off. Companies controlled by the Norwegian taxpayer now directly own about 30 per cent of the nation's oil production, providing another significant source of income as well as technical input on how their resource is developed.

"With minor exceptions, Ottawa and the provinces have no equity share whatsoever in our petroleum resources."

Anderson's entire series is being collected here.

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

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