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Morneau criticizes liberals’ economic policies in first public speech since leaving political career

Morneau criticizes liberals' economic policies in first public speech since leaving political career

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Finance Minister Bill Morneau in Ottawa, March 19, 2019.Chris Wattie / Reuters

Former Finance Minister Bill Morneau, in his first public speech since leaving political career two years ago, made a scathing critique of the federal liberals’ economic policies, along with a series of recommendations for kickstarting growth.

Minister of Finance in the Liberal government from 2015 to 2020, Mr Morneau echoed the concerns of business leaders who urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to focus on expanding Canada’s economy rather than launching a tax-and-spend initiative Is.

“When I look at politics in Canada today – from the perspective of a former insider – I have to admit that I am more concerned today about our economic prospects in 2022 than I was seven years ago,” he said.

“So much time and energy has been spent finding ways to redistribute Canada’s wealth that little attention has been paid to the importance of increasing our collective prosperity,” Mr. Morneau said in a speech to the CD Howe Institute on Wednesday evening.

Mr Morneau highlighted research conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that estimates Canada’s GDP growth over the next four decades will be much lower than expansions in the US, Australia and comparable European economies.

“There is no real sense of urgency in Ottawa regarding our lack of competitiveness,” Mr. Morneau said. “It’s not that this is one of the bigger problems facing the Canadian economy, it’s that it’s our fundamental problem. Nothing else is worth solving if we don’t put this issue first.”

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Ahead of April’s federal budget, senior business leaders such as Royal Bank of Canada chief executive Dave McKay expressed dismay with the government’s approach, saying it had seen a tendency towards short-term decision-making, grand spending and sporadic engagement with Corporate Canada. Saw it.

While Mr Morneau never mentioned his successor as Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, or Prime Minister, he devoted a considerable amount of his 20-minute address to problems with a partisan political process that used style over substance. supports. Mr Morneau resigned from his post amid the We Charity investigation.

“We need to stop thinking about policy in terms of short-term victories, and refocus our efforts on long-term solutions. I know all political incentives run the opposite,” said Mr. Morneau, who in 2015 Before entering politics, he ran the country’s largest employee benefits firm – LifeWorks, formerly known as Morneau Schapel.

To ensure a long-term focus on trade issues at the federal level, Mr. Morneau said Canada needs a “Sustainable Development Commission, which is based on expertise from the public and private sector, with input from all federal/provincial bodies.” Reports to the parties.”

The concept is based on recommendations from Bank of Nova Scotia chief executive Brian Porter, who recently called for a new Federal Commission on Canada’s Economic Prosperity.

Mr Morneau said the federal and provincial governments needed to do more to coordinate policies and the delivery of services such as health care.

“While many levers for our economic opportunities are shared, federal dialogue with provinces and territories is, for the most part, not accompanied by a relevant, clearly identified and executed strategy,” Mr. Morneau said. He said the recent resignation of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has given the prime minister an opportunity to re-establish ties with the resource-rich province.

Without specifically pointing to Conservative leadership candidates, Mr Morneau also took issue with populist campaigns, such as Pierre Poilivar, who has repeatedly attacked the Bank of Canada, which works at arm’s length from the federal government. Is.

“Canada is a country with political institutions that, in many respects, are the envy of the world,” Mr. Morneau said. “Yet there are politicians – who know a whole lot better – who are not only taking those institutions lightly, they are actively willing to undermine them if they give them little political advantage.”

“When you lay ‘exciting grounds’ before good policy formulation… And the people you want to lead,” said Mr. Morneau.

When Canada renegotiated trade agreements with Mexico and the US administration led by President Donald Trump, Mr Morneau was finance minister. He said the federal government needs to recognize that the pandemic has made protectionism a factor in every industrialized economy, and threatens Canadian businesses that depend on exports.

Canada has benefited as much from trade liberalization in recent years as it will suffer as countries around the world turn inward and take on more protectionist positions, said Mr. Morneau, who recently attended Yale University. are teaching.

“Disruption with China, coupled with widespread de-globalisation, puts countries like Canada in a challenging position. Natural resources alone won’t save us. Neither will cryptocurrencies, just because we’ve got that on record.”

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