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GEO 225: Canadian Geography

Essay questions

  1. Manufacturing industries in Ontario: Manufacturing forms the heart of Ontario’s economy, yet these industries are stagnant. Will manufacturing simply fade away in Ontario or can it be rejuvenated by knowledge-based innovations?
  2. Provincial differences in electricity: Why are electricity prices so high in Ontario compared to Quebec?
  3. Bombardier government assistance: Bombardier is Canada’s major aircraft manufacturer. Global competition is fierce. Bombardier gambled on building a larger aircraft known as the C Series program. Y 2015, the firm was in trouble because this gamble did not work. Bombardier had to ask the Quebec government for financial support – a US$1 billion bailout of the troubled C Series. Quebec did support the Montreal-based company but Bombardier has asked Ottawa to match Quebec’s contribution. If you were the Prime Minister, would you support or reject this request?
  4. Language demographics of Quebec: In Quebec, comedian Sugar Sammy tackles Quebec’s language rules with his bilingual shows and a popular rap group, the Dead Obies, uses bilingual lyrics. In what ways might such alternative popular culture expression serve as a thin edge of the wedge in getting the provincial government to recognize that its language law does not reflect the reality in urban Quebec? Can or should such cultural expression affect public policy?
  5. Athabasca oil sands: The Alberta oil sands region is one of the largest petroleum deposits in the world. Unfortunately, the resource is trapped in the heart of North America. Are the solutions additional pipelines, increased rail capacity, or, as Leap Manifesto argue, no new pipelines?
  6. Indigenous economic conditions: Are impact and benefit agreements succeeding in providing Indigenous people with benefits from resource development that end fiscal dependency?
  7. Vancouver real estate market: Housing prices in Vancouver are at record highs. For Vancouverites, the rate of house prices increases is much greater than the rate of family incomes. Have foreign investors squeezed out Vancouver’s middle class from the housing market?
  8. Indigenous toponymic disputes: Toponymy is the study of geographic places names that reflect the political landscape. This expression of the political landscape takes on a “sense of place,” but when it is contested, the outcome can take the form of decolonizing the map. For example, the insertion of Indigenous place names on the Canadian landscape represents the reclaiming of the names of lands and seas by those peoples, as has been done with Haida Gwaii (Formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands). But is the geographic designation o the Salish Sea that replaces the Strait of Georgia, Puget Sound, and Juan de Fuca Straight a strictly Indigenous matter?
  9. Lower Churchill Project: Under Premier Smallwood, the huge Churchill Falls hydro project was built a half-century ago but the power was sold to Hydro-Quebec. Now the prospects for Muskrat Falls hydro development look bleak. In April 2016 the new CEO of Nalcor Energy, the provincial energy corporation, called Muskrat Falls a “boondoggle” but said it was too late to back away from the project. What are the inherent problems and what do you believe are the best-case and worse-case scenarios for Newfoundland and Labrador and for Atlantic Canada?
  10. Economy of Nova Scotia: Is shipbuilding in Halifax a real hope for the long-term future? What problems need to be considered before one can assume this will be a gravy train for the Atlantic Canada economy?
  11. Arctic sovereignty: Arctic sovereignty involves several political hot spots. One is the Beaufort Sea boundary dispute with the US, another is the Northwest Passage, and the last major one is the control of the Arctic seabed. How will these be resolved, and why is Hand Island not considered a hot spot?
  12. Cruise tourism in the Territories: Arctic cruises have increased dramatically in the last two decades. The Northwest Passage alone attracts around 10 to 12 cruise ships each summer, bringing nearly 2,500 passengers to visit Arctic communities. In August 2016, the scale of cruise ships crossing the Northwest Passage reached record levels, with the passage of the Crystal Serenity representing a quantum leap in regard to tourism. Could this form of tourism lead to a sustainable industry for Arctic communities?

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