The Globe and Mail

Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

A giant piece of pipeline is placed in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver.The pipeline was brought there by opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
A giant piece of pipeline is placed in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver.The pipeline was brought there by opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
(JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Brian Lee Crowley

Blocking economic development: The tyranny of ‘social licence’

The need for “social licence” before major development projects can proceed seems increasingly accepted as self-evident despite the fact that it is either meaningless or a polite term for mob rule.

Wherever there is organized opposition to new pipelines, mines, railways, manufacturing plants or tree cutting, to mention just a few examples, the opponents repeat the mantra that such projects must obtain social licence or else they must not be allowed.