David Dodge's economic call to action for Ottawa
Canada’s economic growth hinges on the new federal cabinet mending the east-west divide and bridging older and newer industries, according to former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge.
“Part of the regional divide is because of the changing economic opportunities,” Dodge, now senior advisor at Bennett Jones, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Thursday.
His comments come one day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled his second-term cabinet following an election that exposed stark regional divides between Eastern and Western Canada. Among the new appointments is former Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland being named deputy prime minister and minister of intergovernmental affairs, putting her in a key position to address those regional tensions.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg he was “pleased” to learn that Freeland — who was born in Alberta but represents a downtown Toronto riding — will be serving in these new capacities.
“She’s a very intelligent and competent woman who proved herself in the foreign affairs ministry. For me, more importantly, she grew up in [northern] Alberta and so I think she understands that the oil-and-gas industry is an essential part of the Canadian economy,” Kenney said.
Dodge said Canada faces the “difficult adaptation problem” of supporting its natural resource sector, a significant driver of the economy, while at the same time preparing for the transition to new technologies and industries in the face of growing concerns over climate change.
He added that those objectives need not be mutually exclusive, arguing the “tremendous expertise” in Canada’s oil-and-gas sector can be leveraged for innovation.
“Just as we have to evolve out of building automobiles based on the internal combustion engine, so we have to use the skills [and] technology that we have developed in the resource industries not just to produce more ore, more logs, or more bitumen, but to add the value that we can on the technology side in those industries,” he said.