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A Canadian Maple Leaf flag flies near the Peace tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb.15, 2012 (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A Canadian Maple Leaf flag flies near the Peace tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb.15, 2012 (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada's future, according to 11 influential business figures Add to ...

David Dodge

Former Bank of Canada governor

Canada’s continuing problem is our very poor productivity performance despite good macroeconomic policies. Three fixes are required:

Better and more aggressive corporate management of labour and capital to reduce unit costs.

Greater focus by business on customers’ needs.

Much greater emphasis by governments on principles-based regulation to reduce compliance costs and foster more innovation.

Paul Desmarais III

VP, Power Corp.

Our biggest challenge is to create and keep big companies—specifically, bigger tech companies. People need to dream bigger and to think less locally. We have a very small market, and if we think that way, we will never make it as a country.

David Rosenberg

Gluskin Sheff + Associates

We need to recapture lost market share in manufacturing, especially in Ontario, where factory jobs have plunged to an all-time low. To do this, we need to provide a low-cost climate for businesses by reducing energy expenses and regulations, increasing wage flexibility, as well as making greater strides to cut corporate tax rates.

Kathleen Taylor

Board chair, Royal Bank of Canada

The Canadian “brand” is in high demand, and businesses should feel confident about exporting our skills, strengths and values. Those values, the way we conduct business with integrity, and our diversity and multiculturalism all contribute to our prosperity. Diversity of experience, background and thought are key drivers of growth and innovation. We can boost Canada’s competitiveness by better tapping into the ideas and knowledge of our people and bringing those to the rest of the world.

Ed Broadbent

Founder of the Broadbent Institute

With “light touch regulation,” a failure to address technological change, regressive taxation, slashed social spending and attacks on unions, Canada has joined the global march to record levels of inequality. We need to reverse those policies, which have “eroded fairness” in capitalism (Mark Carney) and undermined human rights and democracy (Christine Lagarde). It’s time.

Jordan Banks

Global head of vertical strategy and managing director, Facebook Canada

In order for Canada to win (not just succeed), we need to become maniacal about building a treasure chest of intellectual capital in the STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] disciplines. We need to find ways to attract the best and brightest talent of all ages from around the world, and we need strong and compelling reasons for that talent to stay here. More schools need to marry STEM education with application, as the University of Waterloo has done with its world-class co-op program, and business leaders need to step up and mentor and support our talent in unique ways.

Guy Laliberté

Co-founder and owner, Cirque du Soleil

Canada’s capacity to create truly dazzling initiatives and to give birth to innovative companies that perform well on the world stage boils down to one thing: our willingness to work together. We must recognize and appreciate our cultural specificities.

Paul Martin

Former prime minister

Education across the board is crucial if our country is going to progress. But the greatest shortfall is funding of indigenous education. When you think that this is the fastest-growing and youngest segment of our population, this could not be more dumb economically. Canada has turned its back Discovery research not only provides the answers to knowledge for knowledge’s sake, but it is the origin of all new technology. For us to turn our backs on it the way the federal government is doing could not be more counterproductive. on progressive foreign policy—we are not a player any more. And if you’re not a factor in terms of the great global issues of the day, when it comes to trade and economic issues, you won’t be a factor.

Jim Leech

Chancellor, Queen’s University, and retired president and CEO of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

We have to realize that we are a knowledge-based economy. We shouldn’t be spending a whole lot of time and energy to revive manufacturing in the traditional sense. That will only impoverish us. Think about it: Who is going to be the biggest competitor to the auto industry? Google. We have to be on the lookout for and exploit those areas where we have a level playing field or slight advantage. We need to develop more value-added technologies in mining, oil and gas, and other natural resources. We can also develop new technologies and services in the financial sector, where we are leaders.

Stephen Jarislowsky

Investing guru

To be competitive, you need to compete. Excellent education, attracting highly motivated and intelligent people—and not losing them—is essential. Your costs must be low, especially government costs. Social subsidies must be confined to the needy, not to buy votes. Your currency must allow you to compete on a fair-wage basis. Your income and other taxes must be comparative. Public service and pension costs should not exceed the private sector. They cannot be based on government union vote-buying. Discipline, a work ethic, plus integrity and rational thinking should rule.

Sam Duboc

Founder and partner, EdgeStone Capital Partners

Canada needs an abundance of the right venture capital. This means more than money—it means experienced mentors who can help entrepreneurs build their businesses, sell and export their products, and create world-class teams. It means having the right ecosystem of world-class research, qualified employees, strong potential customers and experienced professional service firms. And it means a government that is supportive and promotes success at every step.

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