Op-Eds

Canada’s declining position in the Global Competitiveness Index, the lower productivity of Canadian companies compared to U.S. firms, and the low ranking of Canadian companies in the Global Innovation Index despite the strengths of our scientific community and the quality of its research suggest that Canadians are adroit in transforming “money into knowledge,” but have difficulty mastering the alchemy of transforming “knowledge into money." It is well established that high-growth small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute disproportionally to innovation, productivity improvement, competitiveness and economic growth. Increasing the number of high-growth SMEs is a major focus of industrial policy worldwide. But in Canada, the...
A key element in every quarter’s release of numbers for the national economy is business investment. When capital spending on non-residential structures, machinery and equipment (M&E) and intellectual property products is strong, GDP and jobs get a boost in the short run — and, more important, workers get the tools they need to produce more, compete abroad, and earn higher incomes. When capital spending is weak, the reverse is true: the economy takes a near-term hit, and workers get less of the tools they need to compete and prosper. Last Friday’s Statistics Canada’s report on the Canadian economy in the second quarter brings bad news on this front. A promising bump in spending on M&E in the previous quarter reversed, leaving...
The Draft Master Innovation and Development Plan released by Sidewalk Labs in late June could breathe life into Toronto’s comatose plans for a light rail line to the city’s eastern waterfront. Waterfront Toronto’s 2017 request for proposals, which brought Sidewalk Labs onto the local scene as the developer of the eastern waterfront property, sought help in planning and funding an LRT from Union Station along Queens Quay East. Sidewalk Lab’s draft plan proposes to invest $100 million in the project, to be repaid from higher property tax revenues that the LRT will help create. If Waterfront Toronto and the city can agree on the terms, a growth-spurring LRT could be an early and critical benefit from the entire project. As...
Which is the most innovative city in Canada? You might be surprised to know that Calgary has now taken the lead on that front, as measured by one of the most common ways of gauging innovation — patents. Calgary has now surpassed the likes of Ottawa and Waterloo in terms of patents per capita. And yet, the Alberta city's rise has happened without the fanfare that accompanied the ascent of the country's previous tech hubs in Ontario. This is the untold story of how Calgary quietly rose to become Canada's innovation leader. It's a story that doesn't have a central character. Unlike the tech booms of the past, there's no Blackberry or Nortel dominating the scene. Rather, it's a multitude of players in the oil and gas industry...
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and economist Jack Mintz debated Canada’s competitiveness for business investment in Wednesday’s FP Comment. Morneau said Canada’s competitiveness is good, and showed a chart to support his view. Mintz said it is bad, and showed a chart to support his view. Morneau is a former chair of the C.D. Howe Institute’s board of directors and Mintz is a former president of the institute, so perhaps it will help if the institute’s current president weighs in. And I say that Mintz is right. Canada’s relative investment performance is the worst on record. And growth-friendly tax changes are a key tool Morneau should use to improve the situation. The topic Morneau and Mintz were debating...