Canada at 150

Canada at 150: Rising to the challenge
Canada’s challenges

  • Jobs Today and Tomorrow: the Productive Society of 2017
  • Real life issues for Canadian families: How do we care?
  • Energy, Environment, economy: Growth and Responsibility in 2017
  • The Creative and Competitive economy
  • A strong presence in the world of 2017: Commerce, values, and relationships

L. Ian MacDonald: Liberals pull off great conference
But Ignatieff spoils the moment with his wrap-up conclusions
The Liberals’ Montreal think-in was a landmark conference that set a standard for innovation and content against which public policy events will be benchmarked for years to come.

We were committed to the organization of two excellent panels (where Wednesday Night’s strong representation included Désirée McGraw, Bert Revenaz, Katia Opalka and Douglas Lightfoot on Saturday; and Karl Moore, Kimon Valaskakis and Paul Shrivastava on Sunday) that were a key component of the Montreal Satellite Event hosted by the Westmount-Ville-Marie Riding in cooperation with the Riding Associations of Outremont, Jeanne Le Ber, Mont Royal, Notre Dame de Grace-Lachine, Lasalle-Emard, Lac-St.-Louis and Pierrefonds. However, the superb use of webcasting and online communications [Canada 150 conference a multimedia feat] enabled us to watch and listen to every word of the many thought-provoking speeches and panels, either live, or archived. Bravo to the organizers! We have provided links below to some of those of particular interest to us, but we recommend careful study of all the material. As one commentator wrote “Those 60 panelists were each text books not sound bites”
Thinking big thoughts in Montreal

Day 3:
We would freeze corporate taxes and cut deficit: Ignatieff
Action plan; Liberal leader sums up three-day policy conference
Ignatieff said the main message he got from the conference is that the Liberals must focus on networking and concertation with other levels of government and the private sector, not big-spending initiatives.
Another key message, he said, is that the country needs a national learning strategy if it is to meet the challenge of boosting national productivity sufficiently to maintain an increasingly costly health care system and an aging population as the baby boom generation hits its senior years in ever increasing numbers.
Preventive medicine will be vital to sustaining the health care system, and the federal government must play a role in that, he said. As well, a concerted effort must be made to close the gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal attainment in Canadian society.
Energy policy must focus on investment in clean energy and technology, he said. “Productivity advantage lies in being the world’s most energy efficient society.”
The conference discussions will be reviewed at five regional party conferences later this spring with an eye to distilling the proposals forwarded into a Liberal program.

A Strong Presence in the World of 2017: Commerce, Values and Relationships
Following a tumultuous decade book-ended by the events of 9/11 and a harrowing financial crash, the world today is a very different place than it was a mere ten years ago. This is in sharp contrast to the economic, security and democratic gains that marked the roaring ‘90s.
Nevertheless, progress was made across a number of key global social indicators, and the number of armed conflicts continued to decline around the world. Economic growth in many developing countries has been impressive, often outpacing those recorded in the industrialized North by a healthy margin. At the head of the class were the so-called BRIC countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India and China, whose super-charged economic expansion boosted the living standards of billions of people and transfixed investors and observers alike.
Yet, the relentless march of globalization has become an ever more complex journey. Tough security measures put in place to combat global terrorism, and the fallout from the financial and economic crises are redrawing the figurative boundaries between states, in the process slowing down the transnational flow of money, goods, people and ideas after years of explosive growth. The stalling of the Doha Round at the World Trade Organization, the willingness of only a few NATO countries to engage in a combat mission in Afghanistan, are two vivid examples of multilateralism under threat. More
Robert Fowler: Africa in 2017, and Canada as Partner
Fowler claims Liberals ‘shill for votes’
(CBC) Former Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler ripped into the federal Liberals during the final day of their conference in Montreal, saying the party is in danger of “losing its soul.”
‘We will not prevail in Afghanistan’: Robert Fowler
Top diplomat tells Liberals mission is waste of Canadian lives, money
Fowler also delivered a brutal take on the moral and policy failings of his Liberal hosts, saying the party has lost its way in policy terms and is in danger of losing its soul with its pandering to special interests. These he suggested, include not only the Jewish vote, but also accommodation of Sri Lankan and Sikh extremists.
Robert Fowler wakes up the Liberals in Montreal
… If nothing else, Fowler’s pleas for attention to Canada’s aid spending should be heeded. He cited the shameful statistic that Canada stands 16th out of 22 donor countries ranked by the OECD in terms of the percentage of our wealth we devote to development assistance. Last month’s federal budget announced a freeze of federal aid spending, after a final increase this year, at around $5 billion. There was no real political outcry over the targeting of this portion of federal spending more forcefully than any other at the start of a deficit-shrinking process. If politicians are wary of the more incendiary points Fowler raised, they could at least turn their attention to the simple question of how much we give.
Canada’s Presence in the World of 2017: Choudhry, Kinsman, Martin & Stein
Liberals hope policy conference will outshine bad week on Hill
There are two teams of Liberals under Michael Ignatieff, one that appears thoughtful and engaged with Canadians as it does this weekend at their Montreal thinkers’ conference, and the other that continues to fail by every measure of competence in the House of Commons.
Liberals hear call for carbon tax
An old idea got fresh traction Saturday at this weekend’s federal Liberal thinkers’ conference, which is supposed to be generating new ideas for the country and the party.
The idea of a carbon tax as a means of curbing greenhouse gas emissions, which the Liberals rode to a resounding defeat in the last federal election, got strong support from invited experts at afternoon panel discussions on the theme of energy, environment and economic growth.
27 March
Day 2: Geopolitics and Canadian Interests in the North American Energy Market with Dan Gagnier and Michael Phelps
Day 2: Real life issues for Canadian families: How do we care?
David Dodge calls for pension reform
Former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge is adding his voice to the debate over pension reform, calling today for a voluntary component to the Canada Pension Plan. … Mr. Dodge also said there needs to be an “adult debate” over health care. He painted a stark picture of choices and challenges facing Canadians today. Now the Chancellor of Queen’s University, Mr. Dodge was the keynote speaker introducing the panel dealing with real life issue for Canadian Families. Video of David Dodge presentation
Retirement a top concern at ‘thinkers’ conference
Canadians will have to work longer, former bank governor warns
26 March
Day 1: Jobs Today and Tomorrow: the Productive Society of 2017
New Canadians now account for two-thirds of our population growth, making our labour market increasingly diverse. In addition, Statistics Canada estimates that within ten years, the number of retirement-aged Canadians who are working will continue to rise. At the close of this decade, 1 in 5 workers will be aged between 55 and 64. The key for Canada’s economic success will be the creation of high-quality jobs for that changing workforce.
High-quality jobs and thriving communities are driven by continual innovation. Regardless of economic sector, innovation, the continual cycle of improvement that keeps a business on the cutting edge; the continual drive to lead in the development of new products that the world is demanding drives wealth creation.
Innovation in turn is driven by knowledge and creativity. In each and every economic sector, from high-tech to construction to mining, knowledge and innovation are and will continue to be the keys to success. In today’s global economy – and tomorrow’s – no sector can remain stagnant and succeed. Every job in every community, today and tomorrow, is dependent on innovation, education and research.
Our recent performance has not been good. Canada invested nearly 10% less in public and private R&D as a percentage of GDP in 2008 than it did in 2005. That is over 20% less than the OECD average, and over 30% less than the United States. A recent Conference Board of Canada analysis showed Canada ranked last among 17 peer countries on educating and graduating PhDs, particularly in science and technical fields. Our productivity growth, the foundation for wealth creation and an enhanced quality of life, continues to decline.
Canadian Innovation: Generating and Leveraging Success with Furlong, Hasenfratz, Jenkins & Martin
Selected Media coverage
Ignatieff bemoans ‘break’ between citizens, political class
(National Post) “There is a break here, between the political class and the citizens of the country,” Mr. Ignatieff said in a speech that opened the Canada at 150 conference, a three-day-event organized and hosted by the Liberal Party of Canada.
“It’s the fault of the political class,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “In truth, politicians don’t know how to keep young people interested in politics anymore. This is a major challenge, not only for the Liberal party, but for the entire political class.”
Don Martin: Liberals bring out the dead in search of new life
(National Post) With an almost audible door creak, the Liberals began their search for a future in power by throwing open the family crypt.
Former leaders and ex-prime ministers, flanked by old cabinet warhorses, senators and senior staff, formed a parade of fading government memories to launch the Liberal’s seminal “thinkers” conference here Friday.
The pretext is to envision Canada in 2017, when it turns 150, but the ultimate objective is to design an election-salvage strategy for the natural governing party before it loses the title to the Conservatives for good.
Liberal Conference – Panel
(CBC/The Current) The organizers of the Liberal conference in Montreal hope that it will produce some of the same magic that emerged from a similar brainstorming session that took place in Aylmer, Quebec in 1991. That gathering ultimately led to the “Red Book” … a package of policy proposals and campaign promises that helped propel Jean Chretien’s Liberals into government two years later.
Eddie Goldenberg was one of the organizers of the Aylmer conference. He also helped draft the Red Book. Eddie Goldenberg was also Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s Chief of Staff and Senior Policy advisor. He’s now a partner with the law firm Bennett Jones. And James Travers has been following the lead-up to this conference closely. He’s the Toronto Star’s National Affairs Columnist.
(Globe & Mail)More Liberal MPs than expected head for Montreal
24 March
Jane Taber: Thinkers conference or ‘academic fantasyland’?
(Globe & Mail) Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are criticizing Michael Ignatieff’s Montreal conference this weekend as light on policy but high on fantasy.
In an internal party memo, Tory officials note that the speakers coming to the conference – Canada 150: Rising to the Challenge – are not representative of the country. “Two-thirds of guest speakers are male, and only five guest speakers are visible minorities,” says the memo distributed to MPs and other Conservative supporters.
23 March
Dave Valliere, Ryerson University: Canada’s missing innovation piece
Canada now ranks a lowly 14th among OECD countries for innovation performance and productivity. Our standard policy response to such a low standing is to demand increases to investments in R&D, an approach reconfirmed in the recent Throne Speech and federal budget. As a result of such policies, Canada is rapidly developing expertise in exciting new industries such as green energy, agri-biotech, and digital media that rivals our existing expertise in telecom and resource extraction. But will this be enough to secure our future prosperity in a world of increasing global competition? New research suggests not.
22 March
Don Martin: Liberal MPs told to sit this one out
Video link only to party strategy conference
(National Post) Federal Liberals will set aside shallow politics later this week to engage in Deep Thinking as they ponder the prospect of Canada turning 150 in 2017 under what they hope will be Liberal rule.
But guess who’s not invited to the high-profile think-tank in Montreal to envision the country’s future? Incredibly, that would be Liberal MPs. The entire caucus, except for leader Michael Ignatieff and chinwag co-chairman Mauril Belanger, have been told to stay in their ridings for this seminal party event, limiting their participation to Internet video linkages with the conference floor.

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