While I grew up in Canada in a mid-sized city and raised in modest circumstances, I have had the rare privilege to see much of the world. Apart from spent ten formative work years in Toronto (from age 24-35), since the age of 18, I have had 22 years living in the USA, UK, France, China, and Nigeria (and a wonderful summer in Denmark). I have visited for work, study, or pleasure over 80 of this world’s countries, including the 13 of the top 20 by landmass, 19 of the top 20 by GDP, and 15 of the top 20 by population.
And while I have relished my adventures everywhere, with each passing year, I have become increasingly convinced that Canada has accomplished something unique on this planet.
We have an immensely civilized, tolerant, decent society. We have done this by welcoming people from all corners of the world and integrating them in a way no nation can match. We offer socialized healthcare, excellent education, and a strong social safety net.
We have, by traditional measures, built a powerful, diversified economy (ranked 9th largest in the world) that has strength in natural resources, manufacturing, financial services, and technology. Despite an economic orthodoxy that tells us there are trade-offs, we have now surpassed the USA in GDP per capita and median wealth per household even though we have a strong social safety net.
Our universities are world class, with three in the top 30 globally. Four of our cities are in the top 20 in the world for livability.
We generally enjoy excellent relations with nations around the world and our people are welcomed everywhere; Canadians who live abroad are quietly making remarkable contributions to many other nations in business, the arts, government, and science.
And we have done this while maintaining a unique cultural identity that includes our wide range of contributions to music, film and television; our passion for the environment; our absolute commitment to universal healthcare; our refusal to dismantle the social safety net; our relationship to ice hockey and other winter sports; and, of course, our iconic Canadian Tire and Tim Horton’s that have held up against onslaught after onslaught from the south.
Our success has not gone unnoticed. According to the Future Brand Index, Canada has the world’s number 1 national brand (2011), ahead of the US, well ahead of the UK, ahead of every other nation, including those that are universally praised – Switzerland, Japan, Australia.
All of this with 34m people, ranking 38th in the world. We truly punch above our weight.
But Nevinomics thinks we can do better. However impressive and important our economic achievements by traditional measures may be, Canada is simply not reaching its potential for individual Flourishing. To help address this, some Nevinomics’ articles will be geared specifically to the Canadian context. We will put forward proposals designed to stimulate debate in Canada and help us think through not just the “big picture” measures of economic success that are traditional and so reflected in familiar rubrics of measurement and terminologies of discourse, but also how we can build an economy and society that meet the needs of individuals by first comprehending those needs and then re-framing our rubrics and discourse to communicate the real-life economic status of a nation.
Some of the areas where I will push the policy debate include:
- Measuring what really happens in our society and economy so that we have much better metrics to guide policy and produce outcomes that benefit Canadians
- Constructing a better pension system that aligns with the reality of high longevity and huge personal uncertainty to deliver better results for people
- Restructuring the labour and education systems to give people greater flexibility over their careers and greater control over their lives
- Repositioning the economic policy debate away from the sterile inflation control issue to one where we weight achieving human potential appropriately
- Unblocking inefficient economic structures that have arisen and are impeding improvements in areas such as energy, healthcare, infrastructure, and urban planning where we have the technology to make a huge difference to our well-being but are not achieving it
Overall, For Canada will aim, once the foundational articles of Nevinomics have been set out, to create the debate and action needed so that Canadians and Canada can Flourish even more. I simply believe we can do much, much better.