Editorial - 17-14

Guest Contributor
September 16, 2003

If Doug Barber could deliver just one piece of advice to incoming prime minister Paul Martin, it would likely be to pick up the phone and schedule private meetings with a few of Canada’s high-tech executives. After all, Martin is the architect of the government’s innovation strategy and there’s a growing optimism that he will take decisive steps to ensure that its roots are properly nurtured.

Martin first needs to hear from those who are expected to conduct the bulk of the R&D that will propel Canada into the top ranks of innovative nations. But increased industrial R&D can’t be justified without higher sales and revenues and the proper regulatory, fiscal and social environment.

Barber has just helped to complete a new study that incorporates the insights of more than 30 members of Canada’s high-tech elite. Although it’s hard to believe, these same individuals were not part of the consultations leading up to the strategy. Now they’re being encouraged to meet with senior politicians and articulate their views on what Canada must do to become more innovative.

The report asserts that although Canada’s high-tech leaders are proud Canadians, they also know that their markets lie outside the country. Unless Canada can compete globally, crucial innovation targets will be missed and the strategy will fall flat.

After numerous failed attempts in the past, Canada has an opportunity to do it right this time. If this government and its provincial counterparts have the collective will to do their part, then it’s up to industry to rise to the occasion and make the innovation strategy a reality.

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