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Archived - 10. Conclusion

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In this report, we present a picture of the changing global economy and our view of Canada's place within it, as well as the dynamics that will shape our future. We try to make a compelling case for action, not just by governments, but by all Canadians.

By putting forward a national Competitiveness Agenda, we hope to seize the attention of Canadians from all walks of life and all regions. It is an agenda for everyone: from employees on the shop floor to managers in the corporate office, and from students in college and university classrooms to researchers in the most advanced lab.

The objective can be simply stated: to raise Canadians' standard of living by improving our economic performance. As we have noted throughout this report, we believe that the key will be to encourage more competition at home and more exposure to competition from abroad. Competition drives the productivity that ultimately sustains our incomes, jobs and quality of life. This is our central principle.

Our proposals to renew legal foundations and refine key public policies will increase competitive intensity in Canada. We also propose a powerful new Canadian advocate for competition.

Our Competitiveness Agenda does not ask Canadians to give up anything, nor to settle for less. On the contrary, we are asking Canadians to raise their sights, and to recognize the challenges and opportunities of economic globalization. We are asking Canadians to take a global perspective. We do not believe that Canadians have any other choice.

Governments must adopt this same perspective and evaluate policy, not in a domestic context, but in a global one. When examining legislation, setting policy and establishing regulations, governments need to consider how this positions Canada against our competitors and in the context of Canada's links to the US economy.

It also means establishing a process where we continually review and refine our policies to reflect a fast-evolving world and changing circumstances. Competitiveness begins at home, but it is measured internationally.

Business leaders too need to think big and grasp global opportunities. We have a small market, one that has compelled our businesses to look south of the border for growth opportunities. We have done just that, and should more fully integrate with the North American economy.

But our small domestic market should also compel us to look to the larger world as a source of opportunity. We call upon business leaders to become more global, to grow their enterprises and to seek opportunity. There are risks, but the successes of the many Canadian global champions serve as the example.

While we have many global success stories, Canada has also witnessed the loss of some of our most iconic firms. Our Panel was formed at a time when the debate over the hollowing out of Canada was at its peak. Indeed, we ourselves share the feelings of disappointment and loss when a notable Canadian firm is acquired by a foreign company.

In our consultation paper, we asked Canadians whether domestic control and ownership was important to Canada's economic prospects and our ability to create opportunity for Canadians.

For our part, we believe that competitive, Canadian-based firms are important.

We are steadfast in our belief that Canadian ownership of our firms is valuable. But we do not believe that the best way to ensure Canadian control is by legislating it or imposing other protections.

We believe that the best way to ensure we create and sustain new Canadian champions is by ensuring that our policies, laws and regulations are the right ones to facilitate growth. Given the right conditions, the dynamism, talent and ambition of Canadians will rise to the fore. We will have more Canadian firms competing globally. And winning globally.

Thus, our journey leads us to conclude that the main issue is not whether we are being hollowed out. The real issues are the economic environment in Canada and the mindset of Canadians in all walks of life. The questions are how we raise our productivity through greater openness to talent, capital and innovation, through vigorous competition, and through a more ambitious mindset.

This report is our best effort to set the agenda for sustained competitiveness. It is a national project, and we call on all Canadians to commit to making our country more competitive. It is a long-term project requiring a fundamental change in the mindset of Canadians.

It will not be quick or easy. But if we take on this challenge with the commitment and collective spirit that have enabled Canadians to overcome formidable obstacles and bring great national projects to fruition, the Panel has no doubt that we will continue building a Canada that we will be proud to bequeath to our children and grandchildren.