CEOs say Canada’s political ‘vacuum’ threatens our standard of living

by Canadian Shipper

OTTAWA, ON- The Canadian Council of Chief Executives is to release a document, Canada First, warning that Canada is a “nation adrift” that is currently spending the economic gains of the last decade because the federal Liberals are obsessed with polls as opposed to policy.

The document suggests this political vacuum threatens Canadians’ standard of living in a changing global economy, reports the National Post, which obtained the document.

Six CEOs signed the document: Gwyn Morgan of energy giant EnCana; Dominic D’Alessandro of Manulife Financial; Gordon Nixon of Royal Bank of Canada; Paul Desmarais Jr. of Power Corp. of Canada; Rick George of Suncor Energy; and Jacques Lamarre of SNC-Lavalin.

The CEOs plan to work with one another over the next few months to develop a national strategy, with the goal of releasing it before the next federal election, either in the fall or early next year.

The CEO council, representing 150 of Canada’s largest companies and led by Thomas d’Aquino, in the past has pushed ideas on the federal agenda, most recently the North American security and prosperity partnership being negotiated by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

“A minority federal government is frittering away the fruits of years of sacrifice. Provincial and municipal governments are making this problem worse by demanding a steady stream of special deals that give them a greater share of the taxes paid by all Canadians without accountability to all Canadians. In the political arena, the very idea of strategic policy-making is drowning in the swirling search for momentary tactical advantage,” the CEOs said.

“What is painfully absent today is any ambitious vision of what Canada could achieve over the next five to 10 years and any coherent strategy for realizing this vision in ways that could mobilize support across Canadian society.”
The CEOs suggest the federal government should focus on six principles to better position Canada in the new world economy.

These are:

GOOD GOVERNANCE: Canada should implement public-sector reforms that strengthen transparency and accountability. Public officials should be required to do what is required of corporate officers — sign off on financial statements to verify that everything contained in the document is true. Moreover, there is a need to end the so-called one-off financial deals with provinces, which have boosted public spending while, at the same time, reduced taxpayer accountability, said the CEO report. There also needs to be a review of which level of government is best suited to deliver certain services.

PUBLIC SERVICE & INFRASTRUCTURE: Governments should ensure their activities contribute to future economic growth, rather than redistributing wealth for current consumption. Also, they should explore partnerships with the private sector in terms of delivering services — if the joint venture makes economic sense.

TAXATION & REGULATION: There is a need to review the tax regime, given that Canada is among the highest in terms of taxes on business investments. Other countries that compete with Canada are moving to higher consumption taxes (like the GST) and lower corporate and personal tax rates.

PRODUCTIVITY: The report suggest there is a need to review the country’s restrictions on foreign investment, among the most stringent of the industrialized world, and to eliminate regulatory overlap, such as the need for 13 securities regulators as opposed to one national watchdog.

EXPERTISE: Canada needs to increase the pace of commercialization, or the ability to bring technology developed as the result of research to the commercial market.

IMMIGRATION & INTEGRATION Immigration is necessary to fill the gap left by the ageing Baby Boomers. Canada must work harder to attract highly skilled immigrants, given there is stiff competition for talent, the report concluded.

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