Roadmap for success

James McLeod
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Canadian Chamber of Commerce head lays out case for Canadian competitivity

Cathy Bennett (left) owner/operator of Bennett Restaurants Ltd. (McDonald’s) in the St. John’s area, chats with Perrin Beatty president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Friday at the Sheraton Newfoundland. Beatty was the guest speaker at a luncheon hosted by the St. John’s Board of Trade. Bennett is also a director with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Beatty speaks on behalf of more than 400 chambers of commerce and boards of trade across the country which represents 192,000 businesses in Canada. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Canada needs to get its economic house in order and make itself as competitive as possible if it’s to do well in the coming decades.

That was the message Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce delivered Friday, speaking at a luncheon hosted by the St. John’s Board of Trade.

“I think the key thing is that we have to recognize how intensely competitive the global economy is, and we have to insure that Canadian businesses are able to compete,” Beatty said.

“We’re in the race. Others are hoping to get in front of us, and that’s key now at this point.”

Beatty’s argument essentially boiled down to a need to make Canada’s economy as big and as efficient as possible.

A large, prosperous tax base is the only way to pay for the health care and other expenses of an aging population.

At the same time, there are fewer young people entering the workforce, leaving a smaller number of people to pay the income tax to fund government.

With a huge swell of retirees on the way, Beatty said the country is facing a “demographic time bomb.”

The good news: Canada has it’s house in order, and is coming out of the global economic recession.

To retain that position, Beatty said the federal government needs to balance its books, and cut the corporate tax rate.

“At the same time that we’ve been making some progress on corporate taxation in Canada, other countries have been doing the same thing. We have to make Canada an attractive place to invest,” he said.

The federal government has committed to progressively lowering the business tax rate over the next three years, with the first cut taking effect in a few weeks.

Beatty said the government has been under pressure to back down on the tax cut.

“This would be an exceptionally bad signal to send to business,” he said, adding planning for the future is critical for a business’ success.

Despite the challenges though, Beatty made it clear he remains optimistic on Canada’s fortunes.

“At the end of the day if you’re in business you have to be an optimist by definition, we have the greatest potential of any country in the world.”

“The only question is whether we have the imagination, the determination, to achieve it,” Beatty told the crowd

Organizations: Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trade

Geographic location: Canada

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