Successful economies make things. And successful economies take shape when government, business, and labour strategize together about what to make and how best to make it. Germany’s economy is a success because of this kind of strategizing. And Japan’s. And Sweden’s.
Canada’s economy could make things, too. We’re blessed with huge natural resources and a population of workers who are healthy, smart, and motivated. Just imagine what we could make: world-class windmills, solar panels, tidal turbines, ice breakers, irrigation systems, affordable vaccines and pharmaceuticals, next-generation communications systems and IT, educational curricula and mass culture.
We need a "Modern Industrial Strategy"
We could focus our economy on any of these things or on whatever else we can imagine. But it will take investment: we’ll have to design a good strategy and then commit to putting it in action.
Unfortunately, we’re electing politicians who starve themselves of resources to invest in a modern industrial strategy by cutting corporate and wealth taxes. Worse, we’re electing politicians who sign off on trade deals like the North American Free Trade Act or the Trans-Pacific Partnership that actually outlaw co-ordinated industrial strategies, ensuring corporations free rein to pursue their own strategies. Overwhelmingly, the evidence shows that corporate strategies are most often focussed on quick and safe profit at the expense of all else, including environmental and social costs and even longer-term gain.
These strategies lead directly to stagnant wages, temporary and part-time jobs, and exploitative schemes like the Temporary Foreign Workers program.
It’s time for a new strategy. A strategy that excites and inspires us, and that puts people and nature ahead of short-term profit.