Good morning, everyone. I haven't had a chance to say hello. My two colleagues here are quite the chatterboxes, as you've noticed.
I'm just kidding.
I think, realistically, my colleagues are very well versed in what they do, and I'm a logistics guy. I spend most of my time working in the Arctic. I have for the past 40 years used every type of device to move materials around.
To your question, Madam St-Denis, the cost of moving things on the water is the cheapest, most economical way to move things. When you move them on the water, you move them as far as you can until you run out of water. Then you put them on the train, because it costs a little more money, and if you have no train, then you put them on the truck, and it costs a little more money. If you have absolutely no choice, you put them onto an airplane.
The cost difference, simplistically, between the water and an airplane is about ten to one. If you can move freight on the water for a dollar a pound or a dollar a kilogram, it costs you ten times as much to move it in an airplane.
I think everything about the isolated communities in the north is based on cost. If you have communities with 400 people, 500 people, 1,000 people, they're all a long way from roads and whatever else. As my colleagues have mentioned, once a year you get a sealift. It leaves Montreal, Hay River, or Churchill in the summer and drops off its goods. They have to store that for a whole year. They have to put in 40 million litres of fuel storage or 400,000 square feet of warehouse; they have to spend all of their money at once. Whereas with an airship concept, to come in and bring in their materials once a week, once a month, once a day—whatever the economics dictate—it has to be more economical than what they have in place today.
Most of the resource companies I've worked with and worked beside for years have looked at the airship and said it's a really nice idea. Some of the studies have come out and shown how we could build the Mackenzie gas pipeline by moving everything by airship. Again, a paper project, but....
There are huge opportunities in the north to help the communities, as my colleagues have mentioned. As well, industry has found resources all across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut that they can't economically access. They can't get close enough with an ice road or they can't get close enough with the sealift. They're sitting out there stranded. When they're stranded, if they can't develop the resources, there's no training, no education.
If you look at the area around Yellowknife, where the three diamond mines have come in since the early 1990s, there's been phenomenal educational transfer, and 40% of the employees are aboriginal. Even to your comment about the airlines and the people in the north benefiting, Canadian North flies across northern Canada. They're owned by the Inuit, the Inuvialuit. First Air, which again is Makivik Corporation, I believe is owned by the aboriginal groups.
These companies that fly in the north benefit from it. The majority of their employees are local employees. It has a huge advantage to employ people and keep business going forward.
I think to a cost point of view, the biggest concern of moving things to the north to the community level is black bananas, black tomatoes, and black lettuce. Because if you don't get efficient transportation for your foodstuffs that you bring in, it turns black and you throw it out, so it costs twice as much money as if you just transport it at once.
I guess I could wander off for a long time here. Anyway, it is far more expensive in the north, and there are so few opportunities to move things economically.
Just as one example, in 2006 the ice roads north of Yellowknife, which are very sophisticated.... Barry mentioned the Ice Road Truckers. It is a bit of a farce on television. But they planned to move in 10,000 truckloads in 10 weeks. Well, they had 3,300 loads that didn't make it. They had to bring every available cargo airplane that could fly into Yellowknife to fly all those loads out of there--millions and millions of dollars' worth of activity, but they had to do it to keep their mines running, and so on.
There's a huge economic benefit if we can keep doing it.