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Archived - Preface

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This report is about our children and our grandchildren as well as the economy, the society and the nation they will inherit. It is about how Canada can succeed in the face of rapid global change and intense competition.

The Competition Policy Review Panel's mandate was to examine and report on the laws and policies that will underpin Canada's continued economic growth and development.

How can we continue to provide the well-paying, challenging and fulfilling jobs that recent generations have enjoyed? What career opportunities will be available for our most talented and ambitious young men and women? Where will we find leadership in all sectors of our society and the determination to "compete to win"? Do we as Canadians have what it takes to be the best?

In the course of our deliberations and in submissions, research reports and consultations, it has been made clear that economic activity is increasingly being organized on a global basis. New and more aggressive competitors are emerging, and new technologies are reshaping entire industries. In this context, standing still is not an option. As a Panel, we have no doubt about the need to adapt and move forward.

How do we meet the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities presented by these changes?

We believe that we must embrace competition as savvy and determined players with a focus on Canada's interests. We must skate harder, shoot harder and keep our elbows up in the corners, to use a recognizably Canadian metaphor.

We believe that Canadians need to become more active and willing participants in competitive markets here at home and around the world. We must not seek to insulate or protect ourselves from global competition, but to capitalize on it and harness it for our benefit.

Competition matters. It brings dynamism to our economy. It means good jobs for our citizens. It is not merely an economic concept. Being open to competition serves Canada's national interest. This is the principle that anchors our report and informs our recommendations to the government.

That said, we want to be clear that we are not unmindful of the anxiety that relentless competition can produce. Such unease is understandable in the face of rapidly changing circumstances and uncertain outcomes. However, as Canadians, we have stepped up our game and our competitive aspirations in the past, and we have succeeded. We can do it again.

What will it take to deliver to our grandchildren the same measure of progress we have enjoyed? We believe that it will take a more competitive mindset. We need to view competition as being a necessary means to an end. We must become more engaged with enhanced competition domestically and with increased efforts to penetrate global markets.

While this report is centred on what governments at all levels can and must do in the public policy domain, our agenda is also addressed to the private sector. Like governments, we believe that the private sector has a central role to play in improving our competitiveness as a nation. We call on our business leaders to be ambitious, raise their sights, seek out and capitalize on new opportunities, and relentlessly focus on improving how their businesses operate.

Along with an increased focus on competition, we as a country need to regain our ambition to be the best. We cannot be content with simply being in the top ten or top twenty among our international competitors. Globalization and the accelerating pace of change will continue whether or not we step forward to address these fundamental transformations. If we want to control our destiny, we must acknowledge these issues and deal with them.

It is the Panel's view that this means working more closely and more successfully together as Canadians. It means better collaboration between and among all levels of government, the business community, our educational leaders and, indeed, all Canadians. We in Canada represent one team competing against many other, bigger teams. This means we must work together with a common agenda, a Competitiveness Agenda for Canada.

We offer this report as a contribution to that effort. We make a number of recommendations, point to several important areas for action, and propose a process and a new institution to sustain momentum on a long-term Competitiveness Agenda.

We very much hope that Canadians will share a commitment to the agenda we have laid out.

This report is not about remedies for today's short-term challenges. It is about how we position Canada for tomorrow.

Ultimately, we believe that Canadians must be better prepared to compete in the global economy. We are confident that we can and will win.