“In the coming months, business leaders will be engaging the public on the issues that matter and leading the way on elevating the discourse.”
As originally published by Sun Media newspapers in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton
As we mark six months until the upcoming federal election, the main themes of the campaign are starting to emerge.
If Alberta’s election is any indication, we can expect a hyper-polarized campaign with political parties running against strawmen, such as big business, rather than providing solutions.
This is not something unique to Canada.
Democrats and Republicans have brought the United States to a standstill in an ongoing game of brinkmanship. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump regularly takes to Twitter to beat up on some of the country’s largest companies to boost his populist brand as a “man of the people.”
While this might be a convenient approach for some candidates in the Canadian campaign, it comes with a warning – be careful what you wish for.
Large businesses are not the faceless entities some make them out to be. They are drivers of the economy, deeply rooted in our communities and are a major source for well-paying jobs.
A just-completed PwC survey of members of the Business Council of Canada, which represents the leaders of 150 top Canadian companies that employ two million Canadians, found that these businesses pay an average wage of nearly $67,000 – 32% higher than the national average. This positive impact is multiplied by three times because of the spinoff jobs and economic activity they create.
These businesses also play an important role in ensuring the values that Canadians hold dearly.
Above all else, we pride ourselves on our sovereignty. Not relying on decisions made in other places when it comes to our economy or workforce does not come from the size of our government or number of regulations, but from the strength of our businesses.
In addition, we value social programs that are open to all. One of the best parts of being Canadian is that you don’t have to stop at an ATM on your way to the hospital.
Supporting these programs rely on the taxes that people and businesses pay. At a time when the world has never been more mobile, there is a limit to how much governments can raise rates. Therefore, the focus should not be on more redistribution, but more prosperity so that we can grow the pie.
As the seasons change and politicians begin to show up at our door, the question we should be asking them is what they plan to do to improve economic growth. With an ageing population and greater global competition for jobs, talent and investment, we won’t be able to sustain the quality of life and social programs we cherish without providing a good answer to this question.
However, the biggest concern about partisanship further enveloping Canada is the long-term impact it might have. We don’t want to go down the path of our American neighbours. On the contrary, our nation requires strong leadership to develop good, thoughtful policies and a willingness to compromise in order to improve lives now and for years to come.
This is why the leaders of some of Canada’s most important businesses plan to do something differently. Through the recently launched Task Force on Canada’s Economic Future, we will be rolling up our sleeves to identify practical solutions and reaching out to diverse stakeholders, including labour and indigenous groups, who share our objective of making Canada a better place.
There’s too much at stake and we cannot afford to keep playing these tired political games. In the coming months, business leaders will be engaging the public on the issues that matter and leading the way on elevating the discourse – because it’s not just about our economy, it’s about Canada.
Goldy Hyder is the CEO and President of the Business Council of Canada, which recently launched ItsAboutCanada.ca, to hear directly from Canadians on these issues.