Trudeau’s ex-finance minister says Canada is failing on growth

(Bloomberg) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former finance minister said ruling Liberals show no “real sense of urgency” on growth and warned Canada could pay a heavy economic price if things don’t change.

Bill Morneau, in his first major speech since leaving office in 2020, argued that political incentives in Ottawa on all sides work against finding long-term solutions to the nation’s lagging competitiveness. He also acknowledged that he failed to galvanize his own government to address what he called Canada’s fundamental economic problem.

“I struggled to get our government to focus on the need for sustained economic growth, because it was constantly being crowded out by other things that seemed more politically urgent, even if they weren’t really that important,” Morneau said Wednesday night in a speech. to the CD Howe Institute, a Toronto-based think tank, according to prepared statements.

Morneau resigned nearly two years ago after a breakup with Trudeau erupted in public view, partly amid political differences over what the pandemic recovery plan should look like and how ambitious it should be. The prime minister appointed Chrystia Freeland in his place.

Before entering politics, Morneau was CEO of Morneau Shepell, a human resources consulting firm now called LifeWorks.

In the speech, he said that the government produced a series of successes. Reducing child poverty under the Liberals, making progress on archiving climate change, maintaining high levels of immigration, and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement topped Morneau’s list of victories.

However, Trudeau’s team fell short on steps to boost Canada’s long-term growth prospects. Morneau cited numbers that show the nation lags behind in productivity and business investment. The administration gave a low priority to “increasing our collective prosperity,” he said, focusing instead more on wealth redistribution issues.

The former finance minister also blamed opposition parties for looking for simple solutions and even trying to undermine the nation’s institutions.

“When I look at politics in Canada today, from the perspective of a former member, I have to confess that I am much more concerned about our economic prospects today, in 2022, than I was seven years ago,” Morneau said. , who has had a stint as a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson School of Global Affairs since he left office and is writing a book.

To solve the big problems, Morneau said government officials will need more disciplined “follow-through” of policy, better collaboration with business and smarter approaches to working with provinces to drive initiatives forward. He also said politicians should “depoliticize important public policy decisions.”

Morneau recommended the creation of a permanent growth advisory commission that would report to a federal and provincial body on the issues. “We need a national body that will focus attention and force debate on our need for economic growth, and we need to get past the idea that anyone in the party has a monopoly on good ideas,” he said.

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