Trudeau gives boost to market-oriented group on clean-economy initiative

VANCOUVER -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a boost Tuesday to a new cross-sectoral group of business leaders, labour, non-governmental organizations, government and academics who want to accelerate Canada's transition to a high-efficiency, low carbon economy.

See Full Article

Smart Prosperity officially launched in Vancouver with encouragement from Trudeau, whose Liberal government's climate agenda appears to dovetail with the economic transformation envisioned by the new market-oriented group.

"This is really exemplifying for me the kind of co-operation and collaboration that's going to be so essential in terms of addressing not just the challenges that we're facing in the coming years, but the tremendous opportunities that are there for us," Trudeau said at the launch.

Twenty-six individuals have signed on to the initiative, including an eclectic mix of top representatives from banks and insurance companies, aluminium smelters, the United Steel Workers union, a grocery chain, investment firms and the World Wildlife Federation.

They're looking to identify and promote policies that spur innovation, generate jobs and boost the economy while improving the environment and conserving Canada's natural heritage.

"I'm a big believer in government not playing the leadership role," Annette Verschuren, one of three Smart Prosperity co-chairs and the former president of Home Depot Canada, said in an interview before Tuesday's announcement.

"But government is critical to developing the right policy, the right triggers, the right environment. What's really more important is that private capital gets attracted to this industry -- spurred on by policies that make sense for our country."

Smart Prosperity's launch coincides with four days of climate-focused networking, marketing, trade shows, policy discussion and federal-provincial arm-twisting, with Trudeau on hand to meet indigenous leaders and his provincial and territorial counterparts cheek-by-jowl with Vancouver's massive, biennial Globe conference on clean tech.

The key pillars of Smart Prosperity's opening research paper point to innovation, incentives, infrastructure and investment.

"The number one action point is to accelerate clean innovation -- to create the conditions for celebrating clean innovation across all sectors of our economy," said co-chair Lorraine Mitchelmore, the Calgary-based former president of Shell Canada. "This is truly about market economy, not market distortion."

Energy efficiency and resource efficiency is another top priority. So if you're not keen on carbon pricing -- the dreaded "job-killing tax on everything," in the parlance of politics -- this market-oriented group won't be for you.

As Mitchelmore says, there's already an incentive for industry to become more efficient. "Let's incent it even more: You need a price signal to actually give that incentive."

And this is not a group that is disinterested in the overall health of the Canadian economy.

Galen Weston of Loblaws will be rubbing shoulders with former Dragon's Den investor Arlene Dickinson, Shell Canada president Michael Crothers, Telus CEO Darren Entwistle, Royal Bank special adviser Phil Fontaine and Dominic Barton, the global managing director of consulting giant McKinsey and Company.

"You don't see this kind of powerful, diverse group of Canadian leaders come together around issues very often," said co-chair Stewart Elgie, an environmental law professor at the University of Ottawa and a founding member.

"In many ways this is sort of a once-in-a-generation opportunity."

Elgie, Mitchelmore and Verschuren have been developing Smart Prosperity for two years and Tuesday's launch was seen as the start of a much wider conversation with all Canadians about where the country wants to be in 10 years. That future needs to start with government policy-making now, building on what Mitchelmore calls "pockets of success all over the place."

There's actually much agreement among business, labour, environmental groups and global organizations such as the World Bank about how the economy and environment can and should be linked for the good of both. But the various sectoral "silos" haven't been talking to each other, or pushing governments with one voice, says Smart Prosperity.

Elgie likens the global energy and environmental transformation that's just emerging to Canada's free trade transformation of the 1980s, which tossed off a century of trade protectionism.

"We're at that same kind of moment now, there's a fundamental structural shift happening in the global economy," said Elgie, who questions whether political leaders will be far-sighted enough to recognize it.

"That is the nature of the moment and it's why this group of people have come together. This is the issue of our time."



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Marijuana sector firms get marketing pushback as legalization looms

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Some Canadian marijuana sector companies are getting pushback against their marketing efforts from social media platforms and government officials as legalization of recreational pot looms and regulations are not yet final. Lift & Co, which hosts industry events and offers cannabis education, has had its YouTube account suspended and Facebook ad account deactivated, with both companies citing a policy violation. Source
  • Southwest offers apology, travel voucher and cash to passengers on damaged jet

    Economic CTV News
    PHILADELPHIA -- Southwest is sending a letter of apology, a $5,000 check and a $1,000 travel voucher to passengers who were on a flight that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia following an engine explosion. Source
  • Metis, Manitoba agree to 2-week 'reset' before heading to court in hydro spat

    Economic CTV News
    WINNIPEG - The Manitoba Metis Federation and the province have agreed to a two-week "reset" to avoid meeting in court over planned hydro projects. Metis federation president David Chartrand and Crown Services Minister Cliff Cullen had a private meeting to discuss a deal between the federation and Manitoba Hydro. Source
  • NAFTA talks continue through weekend as negotiators scramble for a deal

    Economic CBC News
    WASHINGTON — NAFTA negotiating teams will keep bargaining through the weekend in an effort to get a deal by early May. The political ministers leading the process are currently leaving Washington, but will be back next week. Source
  • Tim Hortons raises more than $800K for Humboldt with yellow and green doughnut

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Tim Hortons says the sale of a doughnut bearing the colours of the Humboldt Broncos has helped raise more than $800,000 for the junior hockey team that was involved in a horrific collision earlier this month. Source
  • Great-West Lifeco Inc. acquires strategic investment in Irish company

    Economic CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- Great-West Lifeco Inc. has signed a deal to acquire a strategic investment in Invesco Ltd. (Ireland), an employee benefit consulting and private wealth management firm. Financial terms of the deal done by Great-West's subsidiary Irish Life Group Ltd. Source
  • Are cures bad for the drug business?

    Economic CBC News
    This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of eclectic and under-the-radar health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven't subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" Source
  • Could stand-up seats be the future of ultra-low cost air travel?

    Economic CTV News
    Would you fly standing up? One aircraft seat manufacturer thinks that if the price is right, travellers will be willing to put up with the inconvenience of flying in an upright position. The idea has been floating around for years now: As far back as 2010, Italy-based Aviointeriors has been talking about bringing saddle-style seats to commercial flying. Source
  • Fairfax bids US$300 million for Toys R Us' Canadian business

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Canada's Fairfax Financial Holding has placed a bid of US$300 million to buy Toys R Us's Canadian operations in bankruptcy. According to court papers filed late Thursday, the bidder is taking on a role of a "stalking horse" in a court-approved auction set for Monday in New York. Source
  • Fairfax bids $300M for Toys R Us' Canadian business

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Canada's Fairfax Financial Holding has placed a bid of $300 million to buy Toys R Us's Canadian operations in bankruptcy. According to court papers filed late Thursday, the bidder is taking on a role of a "stalking horse" in a court-approved auction set for Monday in New York. Source