New Globe editor John Stackhouse is clearly less worried than his predecessor was about being labelled a wonk. No sooner was Stackhouse in the saddle than he began commissioning a series of articles about Canada’s productivity challenge. Which is a horse tranquilizer of a topic, I know, because I sometimes write about it too. But the articles are surely worth doing, even if they can be a bit of a slog. Konrad Yakabuski kicked off the productivity agenda with a long article on July 4, and Shawn McCarthy followed up this weekend with an even longer one about the Nortel unpleasantness and What It All Means. And a deck over the article in the print edition even promises this will be an “occasional series.”
Shawn’s article covers the waterfront with admirable thoroughness. Like a lot of my own recent writing on these topics (WAKE UP! I caught you napping), it draws a lot from the big Council of Canadian Academies report on Canada’s business innovation gap. But without meaning to be snide (I hope I got that out of my system with the Lisa Rochon posting below), I do think Shawn goes too easy on business and, therefore, a little hard on this government and its predecessors. The CCA report demonstrates eloquently that this really is a business innovation gap: that despite world-beating tax incentives for R&D, Canada’s private sector has been sluggish in making the development of new products and techniques part of every business’s mission. Or as a wise man said recently, it’s not clear that innovation is deeply in the DNA of Canadian businesses. Fixing that won’t be easy, but it is encouraging to see the new Globe wants to be part of the solution.