Op-Eds

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...
Business investment in Canada is weak. The 2017 federal budget highlighted how it is lagging the rest of the economy. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz and his colleagues have expressed concerns. A few weeks ago, Deputy Governor Larry Schembri emphasized the importance of business spending on new plant, equipment and intellectual property for growth in the short run, and for the capital stock that raises living standards over time. Weak investment is a problem now and for the future. We estimate that Canadian businesses will spend about $11,700 per worker on new, non-residential capital this year, far below a peak of $15,100 in 2014. The fall-off means the average Canadian worker will have less infrastructure, machinery...
By Peter Howitt With the Canadian economy shrinking for the past two quarters, the news has looked grim. But people leaving jobs and companies going out of business can also be signs of a dynamic economy – one in which new companies are successfully challenging old ones. Economic growth is an uneven process that does not immediately benefit everyone. The technological innovations that drive growth arise sporadically. Economist Arnold Harberger taught us that an economy doesn’t grow uniformly as if it were bread rising in the oven. Instead, economic growth is like mushrooms springing up in the forest bed. Some industries grow rapidly, while others languish. Some people thrive, while others face obsolescence. This unevenness...