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

  • Judge postpones sentencing of PG&E in case tied to blast

    Economic CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge said Monday he is inclined to require Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to mention its convictions in ads and have employees do thousands of hours of community service as part of its sentence in a criminal case stemming from a deadly natural gas explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area. Source
  • Quebec judge authorizes taxi industry-led class action against Uber

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL - Taxi companies and drivers across Quebec are claiming a first victory in their battle against Uber after a judge on Monday authorized their class action against the ride-hailing company. The taxi industry is seeking "hundreds of millions" against the U.S. Source
  • Chan Zuckerberg Initiative signs deal to acquire Toronto tech company Meta

    Economic CTV News
    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left,with his wife, Priscilla Chan, rehearse for a speech in San Francisco on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. Zuckerberg and Chan have a new lofty goal: to cure, manage or eradicate all disease by the end of this century. Source
  • Trump's busy 'Day 1' takes Wall Street for a ride

    Economic CBC News
    North American financial markets lost ground during President Donald Trump's first full weekday in office, as the new U.S. administration signalled that it's serious about upending the economic status quo. Monday's developments included Trump's formal withdrawal of the U.S. Source
  • Taiwanese iPhone assembler Foxconn may invest $7B in U.S. plant

    Economic CTV News
    Foxconn, a major assembler of iPhones and other electronics, may invest $7 billion in a plant for manufacturing display panels that would create as many as 50,000 jobs in the U.S. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou discussed the potential expansion Sunday during a company meeting in Taiwan, the company's home country. Source
  • B.C. aims for diversified economy, as jobs targets missed on mines and LNG

    Economic CTV News
    VICTORIA -- Premier Christy Clark says her government's retooled jobs plan aims to make British Columbia the most diversified economy in Canada. The premier admitted during a five-year update on her jobs plan that the government missed previous targets for students, on growth in mines and for the liquefied natural gas industry. Source
  • Vancouver's housing market third most expensive in the world: survey

    Economic CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- An annual international survey rates Vancouver as the third least affordable housing market on the planet and it also has a warning about Toronto housing. The 2017 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey gives Vancouver a rating of 11.8, meaning median home prices are 11.8 times higher than median household income. Source
  • Documents reveal concerns, effects of CPP benefit limits for widows and widowers

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Sheila was 62 when her husband died. For three years she continued to work full time as a nurse, collecting survivor benefits under the Canada Pension Plan. When Sheila retired at age 65 and began collecting her CPP retirement pension, she bumped into the financial ceiling the government places on the amounts retirees can receive under the public pension scheme and the survivor pension disappeared. Source
  • Canada should distance itself from Mexico in NAFTA talks: Former U.S. ambassador

    Economic CTV News
    Canada should distance itself from Mexico as U.S. President Donald Trump seeks to abolish or renegotiate the three-nation North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), according to a former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. Derek Burney, who helped negotiate the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement under then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, believes Canada and Mexico’s trade agendas share little common ground. Source
  • Striking Chronicle Herald workers mark one-year anniversary of labour dispute

    Economic CTV News
    HALIFAX -- The union representing striking workers at the Halifax Chronicle Herald are holding rallies throughout Nova Scotia Monday to mark the one-year anniversary of the labour dispute. The Halifax Typographical Union, which went on strike last Jan. Source