Never underestimate the power of twitter. A few weeks ago, Canwest journalist David Akin tweeted that in addition to regular media, Canada 150 would be accrediting some bloggers as well. It turned out that the deadline had past, but I sent in my information anyway. The other day, I received an e-mail to the effect that a slot had opened up, and was I still interested?
So off I go. I have to teach tomorrow (Friday) morning, but I should make it for the innovation session at 3:45 if all goes well.
It should be fun. My greatest concern at this point is that there are *far* too many business types on the program, and that I may spend the weekend listening to management jargon.
I'll update this post as the weekend goes on. I may post separately on specific topics if they seem likely to generate an interesting discussion.
I'm in. Comments below the fold.
Final update Sunday, 4:00.
Friday, 3:10. Too late to decently take a seat in the ongoing session. Will try to get a good seat for the 3:45 innovation session. Am seeing a bewildering variety of media and political types.
Friday 4:05. Have found a chair in a far corner, next to an outlet.
Defining innovation at first. "Not same thing as R&D/invention" - good point. Can innovate by using existing technology in different way. Roger Martin makes point about importance of consumers' point of view.
Should we pick winners and losers? Of course not! And just who is *we*?
Okay to *support* winners. Fine - but what happens when they start losing?
Posting this for now.
Friday 4:30. Tech transfers not happening because promote R&D invention, not innovation. Basic research necessary but not sufficient.
Venture capital. Poor returns, so less investment. US market is deeper, because enough 'home runs' to keep investors interested.
Regional development? Clusters occur if there's educated people and a biggish city to provide financing. Hard to see how govts can create them.
Roger Martin: Canadians are entrepreneurs, but not if they're protected from competition.
Friday 4:40. John McCullum asks Roger Martin what is distinction between invention vs innovation. What *is* innovation policy? Didn't get an answer that makes sense to me.
Oh for pity's sake. What public policy would have protected Nortel? A stupid one, that's what. Good answer from Tom Jenkins. Roger Martin: policy can't protect against bad management. Where have I seen this point? Oh yes, here.
Friday 4:50. Most startups fail.
Roger Martin wants an innovation policy. Could he please tell us what it looks like?
Competition to drive innovation, reduce costs in health care. Hard to do that with single-payer model.
Friday 5:15. Supporting the arts as innovation? Never know how creativity will manifest itself.
Parliamentary commission on the future? After all, politicians are well-known for their long view.
And we're done. I still don't know what Roger Martin means by an innovation policy. We already have any number of policies that give money to companies.
Apparently free beer is on offer.
Friday 5:55. I just did my duty as an economist. I shook Stéphane Dion's hand, told him that he was right, and that history will look back and say the same thing.
Saturday 8:30. Am installed in the same chair in the corner. Briefly contemplated squatting at the media table, but decided against provoking New Media vs MSM dispute.
Saturday 8:35. In my admittedly biased opinion, today's lineup could use more economists. David Dodge will provide opening remarks and Bill Robson is on the retirement panel, and that's good. But the health and energy panels will be discussing how to allocate huge amounts of productive resources. And that's what economics is.
Saturday 8:50 David Dodge is talking, but not saying anything that lots of people couldn't have - or haven't already - said. On this blog, even. Productivity growth is important. Keep METRs on capital low. Etc.
Saturday 9:10 Two questions about poverty. No easy solution, obviously, but productivity growth is a necessary condition.
Saturday 9:30 Retirement panel. Bill Robson. Pensions good by world/past standards. Clawbacks have been scaled back. CPP/QPP stabilised in 1990s; bravo Paul Martin! RRSPs etc. Saving enough? Saving wisely? Robust in face of shocks? Improvement, not overturning system.
Bernard Dussault. In French! Elderly poverty an issue. Stable, indexed income. Contributions related to income. Obligatory participation. Current systems works fairly well, but needs to be expanded.
Claude LeBlanc. Also in French! Housing costs an issue. Timing of contributions: less when kids young, more later
Saturday 9:40. Keith Ambachtsheer. Some holes for mid/upper incomes. Eg: Nortel. Why not regulate pension plans as do banks, etc?
Ken Georgetti 1/3 elderly below poverty. And what's wrong with defined benefits, anyway?
Saturday 9:55. The pension problem is pretty basic: optimal savings under uncertainty. Unfortunately, the problem is pretty hard to solve.
Saturday 11:00. Health care panel. We're talking about how to allocate resources equal to something like 7% of GDP; this could use an economist.
Initial remarks on prevention, health care delivery.
Very low-level, tentative and reluctant discussion on privatisation. Definitely should had an economist.
Lots of earnest talk about the importance of exercise. Is there anyone who opposes this?
Saturday 11:55. I'm not getting much from this panel. I certainly don't see much that could be turned into policy.
Saturday 2:00 Energy panel. Another issue where an economist's point of view would be useful.
Saturday 2:30 Breaking news: We should do more about GHG.
Yahoo! Someone advocates carbon tax!
Saturday 2:35 Raymond Garneau asks if Mr Phelps really expects the LPC to run on a carbon tax?!?
At least the Star's David Crane is ready to campaign on the carbon tax.
Sunday 9:55 A long sequence of foreign policy sessions. It occurs to me that there are about 4 hours allocated to foreign policy, and no time at all to dealing with issues like poverty and economic inequality. This doesn't seem like the priorities of a progressive party.
Sunday 12:00 Panel's over. Somewhat entertaining, but I have nothing to say.
Sunday 1:00 Dominic Barton of McKinsey to talk about emerging markets in Asia. Am afraid that he'll make the usual business type mistake of confusing the interests of companies for the interests of the countries where they are registered.
Sunday 1:20 Slides! Talking in the 'McKinsey we'; somewhat disconcerting.
Rapid economic growth in Asia, urbanisation. Lot and lots of context. Where are the policy implications?
Maybe he's spent too much time talking to people looking for investment opportunities.
Sunday 1:35 Got nothing out of this one. Nice photos, though.
Sunday 2:00 Getting nothing from this one, either. Am only staying here to save my place for Ignatieff's speech.
Sunday 2:20 Andrew Coyne is doing lightbulb jokes on twitter. More interesting than panel.
Sunday 2:30 Finally! Ignatieff's speech.
National strategy for learning/innovation/etc. ECL, aboriginals, PSE.
Help for families, home care. Health care: prevention.
Is turning out to be a conventional partisan speech. Losing interest...
"Not a big-govt party", "No more command-and-control" Power of network, power to convene.
Hard times ahead, etc. How to pay? Target of 1% GDP within 2 yrs of taking office, and then down. Not that hard a target, PBO is already forecasting that.
Restore the $3b buffer.
3:10 Oh crap. Freeze corporate income taxes until deficit dealt with. What about the GST?
3:25 Speech is over, waiting for press conference.
At this point, I can't see much daylight between the Liberals' and the Conservatives' strategy. The CPC says that it will do nothing and eliminate the deficit. The PBO says that doing nothing will leave a deficit of 1% of GDP. The Liberals say that it will do something small and counterproductive - and still have a deficit of 1% of GDP.
3:45 Press conference
Corporate taxes are scheduled to fall. Will move back up to 18%, or freeze where they are? I think he said freeze where they are - missed the exact phrasing of the final question. Will have to wait for a professional journalist who was paying closer attention to find out...
Oh good, another took up the point. He'll deal with what he has to deal with when he has to deal with it. So no commitment either way.
Is there a structural deficit? If using corporate tax saving to spend more, then net effect is zero. Have to create "fiscal room" - but how? Hey Frances! He used the term "human capital!" In the end, a non-answer.
Health care: Prevention/home care might reduce costs. "Let's see what we can do." (Gaaah - He used the word 'incentivize'!)
Carbon tax totally ruled out? Non-answer.
Platform by end of summer. Ready, but not necessarily public.
4:00 Done - I'm going home. I'll write a summary later.