From the moment the Liberal government took office last fall, it left no doubt that innovation was going to be a top priority. Gone was Industry Canada, replaced by the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, with Navdeep Bains, a close confidant of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, installed as the responsible minister.
Last week’s budget continued the emphasis on innovation, promising $150 million in 2017-2018 for an innovation agenda. The full details have yet to be revealed, but the budget also added tax reforms to create investment incentives (and quietly dropped a tax change that would have hurt start-up companies), support for innovation clusters, and increased dollars for scientific research.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that the government says its goal is to make Canada a “centre of global innovation”, a significant challenge given that studies persistently point to Canada’s innovation gap. Last year, the Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC), a government-backed group, concluded that Canada “was not globally competitive” and that “it is falling further behind global competitors and facing a widening gap with the world’s top five performing countries.”
Read more ›
Appeared in the Toronto Star on March 28, 2016 as Canada Needs to Keep Next Billion-Dollar Startup at Home From the moment the Liberal government took office last fall, it left no doubt that innovation was going to be a top priority. Gone was Industry Canada, replaced by the Ministry […]
Read more ›
The Trans Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal that covers 40 per cent of the world’s GDP, has mushroomed into a political hot potato in the United States. Presidential candidates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders are all expressing either opposition or concern with the agreement. With the deal in doubt in the U.S., the Canadian government is using the uncertainty to jump start a much-anticipated and long-overdue public consultation.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that earlier this month, the Standing Committee on International Trade announced plans for hearings to be held across the country and invited all Canadians to provide written submissions by the end of the April. When added to the open call for comments from Global Affairs Canada, the government department that negotiated the TPP, the public has an important opportunity to have its voice heard on a trade deal that could impact virtually every aspect of the Canadian economy.
Read more ›
Appeared in the Toronto Star on March 21, 2016 as When It Comes to the TPP, U.S. Demands Could Trump Canadian Desires The Trans Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal that covers 40 per cent of the world’s GDP, has mushroomed into a political hot potato in the United States. […]
Read more ›
Canada’s experience with a national digital strategy has been marked primarily by delays and underwhelming policies. The Conservatives took years to release their strategy as Industry Minister Christian Paradis did nothing, leaving it to James Moore to ultimately release a digital strategy without a strategy. Those hoping for the rejuvenated approach under the Liberals seem likely to be left disappointed. Indeed, Canada’s long road toward a national digital strategy may have come to an end with Budget 2016. The government has some very modest commitments on the digital front, but the budget appears to signal a shift in approach with the Liberals substituting a digital strategy for one focused on innovation. Addressing Canada’s innovation record is important (I’ll have more to say on the issue in a column next week), but emphasizing innovation is not a substitute for addressing digital policy.
The headline digital policy expenditure in Budget 2016 is a $500 million commitment over five year to support broadband in rural and remote areas. While further details are promised in the future, this commitment comes without any reference to an actual broadband goal or target. A commitment to universal affordable broadband access regardless of location is what is really needed (the CRTC may step in to do so as part of its upcoming basic services obligation hearing) but that is not in the budget. The problem is particularly pronounced within first nations communities, where reports indicate that almost half of households do not have an Internet connection.
Read more ›