Now is a time of opportunity for Canada and the West in the face of international turmoil, an international business conference in Banff was heard Thursday.
The changing global order was front and center on the first day of the 23rd Annual Global Business Forum. Despite the uncertainty due to the war in Ukraine, the looming conflict between China and Taiwan, and supply chain issues exacerbated by the pandemic, all is not lost.
Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and a former US ambassador, points to North America’s ingenuity in developing COVID vaccines as an example of how the US and Canada can change.
“We hear a lot that the West is in decline and the East is on the rise,” he said in an interview ahead of his afternoon session on the US role in the New Global Order. “I think what we have seen in the last few months. . . It’s a bit early to make that decision. Sure, the West is in trouble, and sure, the United States, as the key leader of the West, particularly at home, was deeply divided and in trouble. But the innate capacity of the West to, when it needs to respond, to respond in a way that is unparalleled anywhere in the world, is there.”
Electric vehicle technology is another example of how Canada, the US and Mexico have the potential to be leaders. But it will take a concerted effort from all three nations to do so, Daalder said.
The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, is an example of such cooperation and could further align nations and bypass global organizations like the World Trade Organization.
He added that Canada has taken a critical role in resolving trade conflicts around the world, including reinvigorating the WTO during the China-US dispute under former President Donald Trump.
Daalder said he would like to see the G7 expand to a G12 to better represent advanced democracies in Asia, North America and Europe, highlighting the strengths of Canada and the United States as trading powers in both Asia and Europe.
Gary Mar, president and CEO of the Canada West Foundation and a former Alberta cabinet minister, praised Alberta as an example of seizing opportunities.
He said Alberta has made leaps and bounds in bringing in new businesses, highlighting Wednesday’s announcement that de Havilland was ready to build an aircraft manufacturing complex outside Calgary.
“If you look at what’s happening in the province of Alberta over the last three years, huge things are happening in terms of new industries that are being attracted,” Mar said.
He added that federal and provincial legislation and regulation should encourage, rather than diminish, opportunities by breaking down barriers to investment.
Daalder said it’s important to have these discussions in places like the Global Business Forum.
“We are affected by what is happening in the world. In fact, what we do has an impact,” she said. “It’s important to have the opportunity for a couple of days to bring together a wide variety of people to talk about what’s going on in the world and why it matters to them.”
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The first day of the forum also included a discussion on Energy in Transition, the Next Age of Uncertainty, and shared sovereignty and stewardship in the Arctic.
Byron Neiles, forum co-chair and executive vice president of corporate sales at Enbridge, said the first day set the stage for a more nuanced discussion on Day 2.
On Friday, the forum will discuss the role of the community in the economy, the meteoric rise of India, the war in Ukraine and its implications for the West, the technological revolution and trade and the US mid-term elections and their effect on Canada.
“People are debating and discussing the different points of view that they’re hearing from our panelists, and that’s exactly the kind of discussion that we’re trying to engender here,” Neiles said.