Throughout this election campaign, Canada’s economic performance and recovery plan have been a major narrative presented to Canadians. However, as Canada wrestles with the COVID-19 pandemic and attempts a rapid transition to clean technology, a rigorous debate on innovation has never been more important.
In this morning’s Bluesky Brief, our team of political observers examines whether or not the parties are doing enough for this growing area of Canada’s economy and who has the best platform to spur innovation.
Top of Mind
From the desk of Hussain Shorrish, Senior Consultant
It took a global pandemic to dramatically drive innovation to a point that sectors, such as healthcare, have completely revolutionized. The fast-paced technology-induced economic growth experienced by most countries led them to make historic investments in science and research, nurturing entrepreneurial talent and promoting an innovation ecosystem. In Canada, 6,500 Canadian businesses and manufacturers participated in Canada’s fight against the pandemic and experts saw this as the beginning of a new chapter in our innovation economy.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the Liberal government has made investments in the innovation economy to ensure Canada is well-positioned to fight the pandemic and to revitalize the economy to ensure a safe restart. This included wage subsidies to protect Canadian jobs and ensure SMEs stay afloat to creating new funding envelopments to spur innovation. The Liberal’s platform makes pledges to continue with pre-election efforts with investments in key areas, most importantly the environment and cleantech, including new support programs and incentives and subsidies for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The Conservatives will have yesterday’s Statistics Canada numbers revealing Canada’s inflation hits 18-year-high to justify their innovation policy consisting of cutting back on subsidies and incentives and streamlining innovation tax credits to reduce unsustainable Liberal government spending. Of note, the Conservatives want to make Canadian start-ups more competitive and have proposed to create a tax credit for buying from Canadian start-ups and help them to raise venture capital in Canada.
After finally revealing a costed election platform, the NDP gave the word “unsustainable” a new meaning. NDP spending to support the innovation economy will come through taxing the ultra-wealthy and increase spending in key areas the Liberal government has already invested in.
Canada needs a plan that puts innovation first and builds a stronger culture of innovation and entrepreneurship to ensure our institutions, industries and young talent remain competitive in the global innovation race. In four days, Canadians will elect a prime minister and while bigger issues will be top of their mind when they cast their ballot, they should also consider a party that will ensure Canada’s position as a leader in the global economy.
From the desk of Cameron Holmstrom, Consultant
When the current federal election was called, the outgoing Liberal government tried to paint this campaign about the future. Coming out of the COVID pandemic, many are pointing to some version of “building back better” and applying the many lessons the pandemic has taught us. To accomplish this will require a great deal of innovation and ingenuity on the part of our political leaders.
All parties have put some focus on the innovation agenda, but where they’re putting their focus tells a story about how they wish to build towards the economy of the future. For the Conservatives, their innovation agenda points more towards the status quo industries and offers the slowest transition through innovation to the new economy. Given the regions where they have the most support, it’s an approach that makes political sense.
The Liberals have had many kind words to say about the innovation agenda during their six years in office and have funded many programs to that end. They created innovation superclusters around certain industries and their campaign revolves around moving ahead in that direction. But one could argue with the lack of results to show for those budgeted dollars.
For the NDP, we can arguably compare their approach to the Liberals as “more, faster” and with some different targets. While they make no mention of superclusters, they do point to increasing manufacturing capacity at home and focusing on specific sectors of strength, like the auto industry. There is also a focus on green energy and technology to make Canada a world leader in this space. In the end, all three parties have innovation policies to offer Canadians, and they’re an interesting reflection of their views of our path to the future. It will be up to Canadians to choose which path they prefer.
From the Campaign Trail
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was in Halifax, Nova Scotia where he presented a regional plan on healthcare for the province.
While promoting his party’s platform in Quebec, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole also focused on the inflation numbers released yesterday and questions regarding how his party would deal with the carbon tax.
There was no specific announcement made by the NDP leader but Jagmeet Singh focused on the housing crisis and getting the vote out. He also faced questions regarding the resignation of two candidates following “unacceptable” online comments.
And finally, for Green Party leader Annamie Paul, she went Face to Face with CBC’s Rosemary Barton and five undecided voters.
What’s Hot…or Not
Handshakes & Selfies
Here is where you can expect the leaders to be today (all times are in Eastern):
Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada is in Montreal today where he will make an announcement at 915 am.
Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada is on the East Coast today where at 10 am, he will make an announcement in Saint John, New Brunswick. In the evening, he will attend an event with supporters in Truro, Nova Scotia.
Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the NDP remains in Ontario, where he will hold a media availability at 9 am in Toronto. In the afternoon, he will meet with supporters in Oshawa and Kingston.
Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada is off today, observing Yom Kippur.
Yves Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Quebecois speak to media on electric transport at 2 pm in Saint-Jérôme.
Principal Susan Smith appeared on CBC News Network.
About Bluesky Strategy Group
Bluesky Strategy Group Inc. is a full-service public affairs firm with nearly two decades of extensive experience working with clients – from corporate, not-for-profit, and national associations, to governments, departments and agencies. We provide our clients with government relations, strategic communications and media relations advice and execution.