Editorial - 20-7

Guest Contributor
April 28, 2006

Patience seems to be the buzzword in S&T circles these days. This week's Budget notwithstanding, the Conservative government has uttered nary a meaningful word about innovation, R&D or competitiveness. Remaining cautiously optimistic is therefore one of the few options open to those dedicated to developing a truly competitive knowledge-based economy.

Ottawa is clearly not in a listening mood. Operating firmly on the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), the Harper government is sticking to a handful of priorities to the exclusion of everything else. As a tactic to secure a majority government in the next election, the strategy has merit. Never mind that the only economic priority (reducing the GST by 1%) is being shot down as ineffective by the vast majority of economists in the country.

Even powerful advice offered by the likes of the Expert Panel on Commercialization has little chance of achieving short-term impact. All government eyes are focused on winning the hearts and minds of Canadians by offering up focus-group-tested solutions to issues that resonate with the public at large (taxes, crime, families, health care, government accountability).

The absence of any substantive economic policy platform is both short sighted and dangerous. Such blinkered thinking will ultimately undermine the ability of government to compete globally in the future. Government policy must embrace far more than five priorities. Perhaps the Conservatives should learn how to count with two hands when formulating policy and put innovation back on the national agenda where it belongs.

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