It is a debate between the winners and the losers from globalization and technological change, between businesses worried about profits and employees concerned about pay and working conditions, perhaps even between a society based on winner-take-all versus a society of collective responsibility.
The fact that the Bank of Canada sees the enormous market power exercised by Big Tech as a potentially negative threat to innovation and economic growth, should be a serious concern. Itâ€™s time that the government took the issue seriously.
Signs are that while Canada will make some positive changes at the margin, this likely wonâ€™t be enough. But what has been missing all along has been an overarching framework or narrative to guide us on the journey.
Thereâ€™s no point in signing trade deals unless we also develop the businesses that make high-quality and technologically advanced goods and products that these countries want to buy.
If we fail in innovation then we are reduced to a low-dollar economy which means a low and even declining standard of living. The Finance Committee doesnâ€™t seem to get it.
It wasnâ€™t for lack of information. The committee held 12 days of hearings and heard from 66 business and other organizations, as well as individuals, along with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and senior Canadian negotiators. The MPs visited nine different U.S. cities, from Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Denver to Detroit, Chicago, Columbus, Milwaukee and Washington. They had lots to work withâ€”and could have demanded more. But they didn't.
How well, or poorly, Canada handles each of these negotiations may very well determine whether it wins the 2019 federal electionâ€”and whether the much-vaunted middle class faces a richer or poorer future. Trade policy will test all of the governmentâ€™s skills, or lack thereof.
Dealing with climate change wonâ€™t be easy, especially for a government so anxious to claim bragging rights in the international community.The Trudeau government does at least seem to be trying, which is more than can be said of its predecessors. But there is a big difference between boastful aspiration and actual delivery. Implementation is still a challenge.