It’s time for Canada to do nation building again. We are ready to help. An open letter from more than 100 business leaders.
It’s time for Canada to do nation building again. We are ready to help. An open letter from more than 100 business leaders.

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister
Government of Canada

October 27, 2020

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

There was a time Canadians engaged in nation-building. We built our own transportation corridors — railways, seaways, and canals. We successfully implemented a policy-driven post-WWII industrial transformation.

We developed pioneering global communications infrastructure with coast to coast sub-second telecommunications. As the third nation in space, Canadians built the most successful global satellite operator (Telesat) and space communications infrastructure that tackles the world’s most complex communication challenges. We designed our energy prosperity and sovereignty by creating innovative hydro-electric projects, developing transformative technology for nuclear power (CANDU) and oil and gas extraction (AOSTRA’s Sag-D). These were all globally renowned innovations that Canadians created, owned and prospered from.

We paired these national projects with the necessary institutions such as member-driven credit unions and mutual insurance companies to finance local economies. We created a diverse set of co-ops for shared agriculture infrastructure to support Canadian farmers driving a growing agricultural economy. National and regional organizations were created to facilitate energy generation and transmission, transportation, communications and more.

This proud tradition stands in contrast to the 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index which shows that Canada fell to 22nd place behind Slovenia, a country that emerged from communism in 1991. This should be a signal that it’s time for Canada to do nation-building again.

The digital transformation over the past 30 years has created a new kind of economy, where wealth and power are derived from control of data and ownership of valuable intellectual property (IP). IP and data are now the world’s most valuable business and national security assets. Some of today’s technologies have a dual-use, concurrently reshaping both economy and national security. Other technologies shape both private and public domains.

Climate change brings in another dimension to picture, forcing us to consider the fragility of the natural world as part of economic and social governance. Yet without a sovereign clean technology strategy — a roadmap that aims to generate, own, and commercialize our reasonable share of this critical sector — Canadians will be forced to make unpalatable trade-offs between addressing climate change and supporting prosperity. As an example, we need to own more of the value-chain for the electric vehicle industry, which could permanently support important assembly jobs in Canada.

These forces are unprecedented in both their scale and rapidity, and they demand serious strategies to reposition Canada for success today and in the decades to come. COVID-19 laid bare and accelerated the urgent need for comprehensive nation-building projects for our contemporary realities.

Digital transformation represents a challenge, but also an opportunity. Unlike in the traditional economy where the size of the country or its military power was relevant for its industrial capacity, in the knowledge-based economy it is ideas that lead the way, enabling smaller countries to reap outsized economic, social and security benefits. The tiny island nation of Singapore is third on the aforementioned Bloomberg Innovation Index and landlocked Switzerland with a quarter of Canada’s population is fourth.

Today, nation-building means creating the digital infrastructure that enables Canadians to succeed in the global economy driven by IP and data. It must be paired with the digital policy infrastructure that leaders use to govern and support creation of new private and public wealth in the 21st century knowledge-based economy. Like nation-building projects of the past, it is a partnership, with government working hand-in-glove with businesses to achieve success and improve outcomes.

When your government took office in 2015, we received encouraging signals that you understood the importance of Canada’s overdue transition to a knowledge economy. We heard of new plans to support innovators across this country. Programs like the Strategic Innovation Fund, the Innovation Superclusters Initiative and creation of the Economic Strategy Tables aimed to make Canada competitive in today’s global economy. But in the years since 2015, innovation is barely mentioned. We see less of a bold, cohesive plan for innovation in Canada and more of a patchwork — pilot programs and furtive policies rolled out in hope they will amount to something greater than the sum of the parts. We are still waiting for the creation of the promised national data strategy, rollout of the national IP strategy and implementation of the recommendations from the Economic Strategy Tables, and we look forward to partnering with your government on these needed efforts.

This fall, as we grapple with the economic impacts from COVID-19, and prepare for the post-pandemic recovery, we need a real prosperity strategy. This is inherently also a national security strategy, with the kind of nation-building ambitions that match the enormity of the events we’re confronting as a country. Canadians need a prosperity strategy that enables our economy not just to recover the jobs lost to global pandemic but to build a new economy, new industries, new infrastructures that create our innovations.

Canada’s high-growth technology companies are positioned to drive those outcomes for our country. We are currently creating high-quality jobs and sustainable wealth by commercializing Canadian ideas and exporting them to the world. We currently employ tens of thousands of Canadians and we have negative unemployment for high-skilled talent. We are working on ground-breaking technologies in sectors as varied as health, agriculture, education, cybersecurity finance and energy. Our potential to make Canada prosperous, strong, and inclusive is unbounded. We are nation-builders who are ready to play a major part in this century’s national building projects that will define our future and the future of generations to come.

But we need a champion in government.

You can champion us by implementing strategies that foster commercialization of Canadian ideas and designing ecosystems where Canadian innovators can grow both at home and abroad. You can champion us by making strategic investments into market-proven businesses that have already been working overtime during the pandemic. You can champion us by building capacity for the economy of IP and data inside your government so that our policymakers can relate to our businesses and the global marketplace driven by innovation. With a strong partner in government, we will drive our companies forward, support economic resiliency and contribute to the public tax base which allows the government to make Canada a better, fairer, more progressive place for us all to call home. Canada must embrace the 21st century’s digital transformation and its opportunity, or we will be left behind, and we will all be poorer for it.

Today our country is facing the harshest economic crisis since the Great Depression and all Canadians are looking to you for leadership. Business leaders are looking to you for signals on economic priorities and rebuilding strategies. We have heard your call to build back better in Canada. Canadian innovators are ready to help.

Sincerely,

Patrick Ostiguy
Accedian
Montreal, QC

Adrian Schauer
AlayaCare
Montreal, QC

Cory Janssen
AltaML
Edmonton, AB

Rich Emrich
Altus Assessments
Toronto, ON

Martin Basiri
ApplyBoard
Kitchener, ON

Adrian Camara
Athennian
Calgary, AB

Carol Leaman
Axonify
Waterloo, ON

Susanne Cookson
BestLifeRewarded
Oakville, ON

Cynthia Hastings-James
BestLifeRewarded
Oakville, ON

Matthew Protti
BlackSquare
Calgary, AB

Ben Fluter
Bloom Care Solutions
Kitchener, ON

Stephen Devito
BlueCat Networks
Toronto, ON

Yvan Boisjoli
Bold Commerce
Winnipeg, MB

Corry Flatt
Bonfire
Kitchener, ON

Saad Siddiqui
Bonsai
Toronto, ON

Andrew Graham
Borrowell
Toronto, ON

Maxie Lafleur
Bus.com
Montreal, QC

David Ossip
Ceridian
Toronto, ON

Phil Proctor
Clear Concepts
Winnipeg, MB

Deepak Chopra
Clearbridge Mobile
Vaughan, ON

Jack Newton
Clio
Burnaby, BC

Robert Kaul
Cloud DX
Kitchener, ON

Ian Rae
CloudOps
Montreal, QC

Jason Nott
Cloudworks
Toronto, ON

Alison Sunstrum
CNSRV-X
Calgary, AB

Harry Zarek
Compugen
Richmond Hill, ON

Brian Courtney
Conavi Medical
Toronto, ON

Louis Têtu
Coveo
Québec, QC

Marc Porcelli
Curate Mobile
Toronto, ON

Andrée-Lise Méthot
Cycle Capital Management
Montreal, QC

Iain Paterson
Cycura
Toronto, ON

John Baker
D2L
Kitchener, ON

Adam Froman
Delvinia
Toronto, ON

Cherif Habib
Dialogue
Montreal, QC

Jean-François Côté
District M
Montreal, QC

Jon Lipinski
Ecopia
Toronto, ON

Sankar Dasgupta
Electrovaya
Mississauga, ON

Dan Mathers
Eleven-X
Waterloo, ON

Paul Donald
Encircle
Kitchener, ON

Jan Kestle
Environics Analytics
Toronto, ON

J. Paul Haynes
eSentire Inc
Waterloo, ON

Germain Lamonde
EXFO
Québec, QC

Philippe Morin
EXFO
Québec, QC

Ellen McGregor
Fielding Environmental
Mississauga, ON

James Novak
Fiix
Toronto, ON

Michael Garrity
Financeit
Toronto, ON

Patrick Huynh
Fiska
Montreal, QC

Peter Kalen
Flexiti
Toronto, ON

Mike McDerment
FreshBooks
Toronto, ON

Mark Scott
Fully Managed
Ottawa, ON

Anna Sainsbury
GeoComply
Vancouver, BC

David Briggs
GeoComply
Vancouver, BC

Neil Cawse
Geotab
Oakville, ON

Don Gray
Givex
Toronto, ON

Jeff Lawrence
Granify
Edmonton, AB

Simon De Baene
GSoft
Montreal, QC

John Bianchini
Hatch
Mississauga, ON

Nicolas Beique
Helcim
Calgary, AB

Fred Lalonde
Hopper
Montreal, QC

Ben Zifkin
Hubba
Toronto, ON

Mike Cook
Identos
Toronto, ON

Jason Hahn
Igloo Software
Kitchener, ON

Alexandre Le Bouthillier
Imagia
Montreal, QC

Dan McCall
Influitive
Toronto, ON

Armen Bakirtzian
Intellijoint Surgical
Kitchener, ON

Debbie Gamble
Interac Corp.
Toronto, ON

Jody Glidden
Introhive
Fredericton, NB

Sam Pillar
Jobber
Edmonton, AB

Charles Deguire
Kinova Robotics
Boisbriand, QC

Leerom Segal
Klick Health
Toronto, ON

Jason Smith
Klue
Vancouver, BC

Michael Serbinis
League
Toronto, ON

Charles Boulanger
LeddarTech
Québec, QC

Cato Pastoll
Lending Loop
Toronto, ON

James Keirstead
Levven
Edmonton, AB

Dax Dasilva
Lightspeed POS
Montreal, QC

Adam Belsher
Magnet Forensics
Waterloo, ON

Hongwei Liu
MappedIn
Waterloo, ON

Kurtis McBride
Miovision
Kitchener, ON

David Feller
Mogo
Vancouver, BC

Mike Andrade
Morgan Solar
Toronto, ON

Marc Holtenhoff
Motive Health
Toronto, ON

Tony Chahine
Myant
Toronto, ON

Clara Angotti
Next Pathway
Toronto, ON

Chetan Mathur
Next Pathway
Toronto, ON

Jason Tham
Nulogy
Toronto, ON

Philip Poulidis
Odaia
Toronto, ON

Wayne Pommen
PayBright
Toronto, ON

Ron Glibbery
Peraso Tech
Toronto, ON

Patrice Gilbert
PetalMD
Québec, QC

Chris Loranger
Plexxis Software
Brampton, ON

Ian Paterson
Plurilock
Victoria, BC

Ken Harris
Plusgrade
Montreal, QC

Mike Wessinger
PointClickCare
Mississauga, ON

Rob MacLean
Points
Toronto, ON

Marianne Bulger
Prospect
Toronto, ON

Jean Le Bouthillier
Qohash
Québec, QC

Hamid Arabzadeh
Ranovus
Ottawa, ON

Jason Smith
Real Matters
Markham, ON

Doug Carwardine
Rockport Networks
Ottawa, ON

David Ross
Ross Video
Ottawa, ON

Greg Wolfond
SecureKey
Toronto, ON

Patrick Blanshard
Sensory Technologies
London, ON

Jordan Boesch
7shifts
Saskatoon, SK

Wally Trenholm
Sightline Innovation
Toronto, ON

Kevin Edwards
SkipTheDishes
Winnipeg, MB

Denis King
Solace
Kanata, ON

Denis Doré
Squeeze
Québec City, QC

Eric Boyko
Stingray Digital
Montreal, QC

Basil Bouraropoulos
Stradigi AI
Montreal, QC

Carlo Perez
Swift Medical
Toronto, ON

Hanif Joshaghani
Symend
Calgary, AB

Paul Vallée
Tehama
Ottawa, ON

Karn Manhas
Terramera
Vancouver, BC

Derek Ting
TextNow
Waterloo, ON

James Lochrie
Thin Air Labs
Calgary, AB

Craig McLellan
ThinkOn
Toronto, ON

Sachin Aggarwal
Think Research Inc
Toronto, ON

Mike Monteith
ThoughtWire
Toronto, ON

Simon Ferragne
TrackTik
Montreal, QC

Keith Metcalfe
Traction Guest
Burnaby, BC

Greg Malpass
Traction on Demand
Burnaby, BC

Chris Eben
TWG
Toronto, ON

John Scott
2Keys
Ottawa, ON

Eva Lau
Two Small Fish Ventures
Toronto, ON

Craig Clydesdale
UWB Energy
Oakville, ON

Ilya Brotzky
VanHack
Vancouver, BC

David Ciccarelli
Voices.com
London, ON

Rory Olson
VOTI Detection
Dorval, QC

Allen Lau
Wattpad
Toronto, ON

Tiffany Linke-Boyko
We Know Training
Edmonton, AB

Paul Bellows
Yellow Pencil
Edmonton, AB

Jason Flick
Youi.tv
Ottawa, ON

Written by

CCI is Canada’s 21st century business council, advocating for our country’s high-growth, innovative companies. Visit CanadianInnovators.org to learn more.

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