Ottawa’s revision of its carbon policy is a step in the right direction to increase Canada’s global competiveness, but more needs to be done to reduce businesses’ regulatory burden, says one of the country’s most prominent business leaders.

John Risley, president of CFFI Ventures, told BNN Bloomberg on Wednesday that the decision by Ottawa to scale back its carbon tax plan shows that the government has gotten the message that businesses are worried about the economy.

“The Canadian economy has been moving to one where businesses are being asked to shoulder a higher regulatory burden, higher costs, longer lead times and regulatory processes, very uncertain regulatory processes,” Risley said. “The economy south of the border, to which we are inextricably linked, is moving in the opposite direction.”

While the Trudeau government so far hasn’t addressed U.S. tax reform and its impact on Canada’s competitiveness, Risley said the government is paying greater attention to the cost-benefit analysis of imposing new regulations.

“There are other important factors which contribute to the competiveness of the economy, both at a personal level in terms of recruiting folks, and on a business level,” Risley said. “Those other areas are definitely resident in the regulatory burden and other forms of tax like a carbon tax.”


With Canada’s competiveness suffering under the cloud of trade uncertainty with the U.S., Risley also urged the government to offer U.S. President Donald Trump “enough of a bone” like the European Union did last week. In return for a pledge by Trump to suspend the threat of an extra tariff on European cars, the EU vowed to bolster transatlantic ties and buy more American beans.

“We found in this president a person that … we don’t want to offend. I think the prime minister has done great job in sort of avoiding offending him. But, it’s also a president who’s very transaction-oriented,” said Risley.

“We need to give the president a win.”

Risley added that the “win” for the U.S. could be a concession from Canada in  supply management, adding that most Canadians would agree that the system on the face of it probably needs to be reformed.

“It’s pretty difficult to argue that we should impose a 280-per-cent tariff on some items and keep out the external competition, while at the same time allowing Canadian producers to dump stuff on the international market at the expense of international competition,” he said.

“That’s just clearly not right – it’s not fair, it’s not justifiable. “