Saturday, July 04, 2009

Innovation in Canada

Responding to this excellent Globe and Mail article on innovation in Canada...

A couple of key points in this story, worth reiterating.

- "The small group of elites that got rich on these resources controlled the political levers to ensure nothing changed."

- "If you rely only on market forces, you are going to react to what others are doing, rather than anticipating what is going to happen."

We continue in this country to allow corporations to control our economy and preach free-market dogma, which as a consequence has had the effect of protecting existing resource-based industries at the expense of innovation and development.

Nowhere is this more evident today than in the Maritimes, where the decades-old hammerlock by a small number of corporations has reduced this once-prosperous region to a backwater.

Similar forces are in effect in Alberta and British Columbia, and unless we are stringent, the economies of Ontario and Quebec will be reduced to a resource-based rubble.

What characterizes high-innovation countries - yes, including the U.S. - is the high degree of government direction and intervention. South of the border, for example, programs such as the mi8litary, space, and NSF have driven research forward.

Canada's own government investment in research and development is significantly smaller than any of the innovative nations, and shrinking. This is why we have seen, especially over the last few years, our productivity and competitiveness lag.

The sad and difficult part is, it may be impossible to wean ourselves from our corporate overlords. The experience in the Maritimes is, even if you change governments, the corporations remain in charge.

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