Canadian investors are well-known in Colombia, particularly in the oil and gas sector. The crisis proved to be a setback to impressive investment activity, but it has since rebounded. Canadian direct investment in Colombia is now over 70 per cent higher than at the 2008 peak, at just under $1.8 billion.
We face two critical challenges in Canadian national politics today. First, how do we restore genuine democracy and persuade the 40 per cent of Canadians who sat out the vote in 2011 to vote again? The second challenge relates to the first: How do we convince those same Canadians to vote for the strong, active federal government we need to build a productive, innovative economy that fairly benefits all Canadians?
The recent announcement by the federal government that it will fund Toronto's subway system is not good news for Canada. It means more of the same style of infrastructure funding we have always had. Instead of predictable, reliable and rules based projects, Canada is riddled with a mish mash of almost completed and almost dead projects politicians pick and choose to save (or not).
Embedded sensors are cheap and more importantly, they talk to each other and the grid. In an office building, for example, sensors can manage heat, air conditioning, office lights, building security, and video concierge service all from one location. The concept of "smart buildings" has been around for 10 years, but it has now arrived. It's real. With embedded sensors, software and a dashboard to control all connected elements, the building now becomes a "smart building." Did 25 per cent of employees forget to turn off their computers? No problem; Cisco systems can turn them all off remotely and save electricity.
As governments here in Canada wrestle with the challenge of providing high-quality transportation infrastructure, they should increasingly consider public-private partnerships, or P3s. The record shows P3s are more likely to be built on time and on budget, and they offer greater value for money than conventional infrastructure projects.
When it comes to urban sustainability, cities in the U.S. and Canada are employing innovative programs and policies to improve the health and well-being of residents and their local environments. But (with some notable exceptions, such as Vancouver and Calgary) no successful rapid transit infrastructure projects have been built in Canadian cities for decades.
One of Canada's biggest public policy challenges is a coming wave of retiring baby boomers. This will increase the draw on Old Age Security, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, the Canada Pension Plan, and other social programs such as health care while the number of workers left to fund it all will shrink. To enhance economic performance and boost productivity, governments have reached into their policy playbooks.
Natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy, are common worldwide and leave the affected public vulnerable to the harsh realities of nature, including the onslaught of infectious diseases. The reality of any disaster of this magnitude is that public health measures are all but forgotten as people do everything they can to survive. The viruses will surely arrive before the area has recovered.
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney took a lot of flack last week for articulating a fact: companies have a lot of "dead money" on their balance sheets. But Carney was getting at a larger issue: Canadian companies take caution to an extreme and do not think and act more globally. Carney may have been too polite to say it, but many senior executives and boards in Canada are slow, bureaucratic, self-satisfied, defensive and extremely conservative. What Canada needs more of are corporate leaders who have the drive, the fire in their belly, and the thirst and sophistication to conquer the world.
In some European cities, planners are finding that making life more difficult for drivers while providing incentives for people to take transit, walk, or cycle creates numerous benefits, from reducing pollution and smog-related health problems to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and making cities safer and friendlier.