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It’s Time to Accelerate

Acceleration is a tricky thing to capture. Whether it be in a chemical reaction or a speeding car, it confounds the naked eye to measure the pace of change. Depending on the point of origin and direction of travel, it can cause intense excitement or profound anxiety. For better or worse, it is the essence of disruption on the road to creation.

When trends accelerate, our world transforms — and this has never been clearer than it is right now. The pandemic has poured kerosene on the flame of invention, bringing new ideas to the fore and hastening transformations already underway.

Thankfully, for all the heartache and hardship of the past two years, there is something to celebrate. Our truly shared experience has redefined our priorities. It has forced us to reconsider our assumptions about big questions. Most of all, for those who can meet the challenge, it has created opportunities for exponential success. Any winning race car driver knows a crash — when all the other cars brake — is the moment to accelerate, not slow down. That is what we have done at Navigator.

So, this edition of Perspectives is different. Our colleagues wanted to focus on the ideas that have taken off since 2020, and how they are reshaping our world.

In some cases, change has raised unanswered questions, as we found when examining how a prevailing consensus on climate action belies a gulf of disagreement on the ideal approach to transition. For others, acceleration has promoted dormant priorities to the vanguard of action, as in the amplified role of mental health in addressing the Great Resignation. The same is true of Quebec’s childcare program emerging as a model for rebuilding a more resilient and inclusive Canadian economy.

In every case, we set out to provide a snapshot of a major trend accelerated by our pandemic era. In doing so, I hope we have sketched a portrait of our future — with some advice on what we’ve learned.

The biggest takeaway for me? Put your foot on the gas and embrace the pace of change. Acceleration is here to stay and this moment of disruption can either be a cradle or a death knell. So, lean into change. It’s how we’ve approached 20 years of Navigator — and how we’ll approach many more. We should not let the momentum of this moment fade because for all its challenges, we will be better for it. After all, who would let a good crisis go to waste?

Ontario Budget 2022

This afternoon, the Ontario government unveiled its 2022 budget entitled “Ontario’s Plan to Build.” If some of the budget items look familiar, it’s because they are. Many of the initiatives were announced in the weeks prior to the budget, with the tax initiatives and a few other pieces excepted.​

Let’s be honest: this is an election budget, a pseudo-platform for the PCs to run on in the coming weeks. In the document, the PCs clearly carve out the battle lines. ​

They’re going back to running on their traditional strengths when it comes to growing jobs and the economy through a Critical Minerals Strategy tied to Ring of Fire development and a whopping $12 billion in electric vehicle deals signed over the past few months. They’re swinging for labour votes with the expansion of Ontario’s low-income tax credit, investments in skills training and upping the minimum wage to $15.50 per hour this fall. ​

Contrast with the opposition is very apparent throughout the document and in the Minister’s speech. In a bid for suburban votes, the PCs have staked their claim on supporting contentious infrastructure projects like Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass, daring the opposition to stop building roads that would help 905 commuters and workers. On another front, the PCs see delivering on their promises for more hospital beds, long-term care beds, and health human resources as more than just building the future of health care; it’s daring the opposition to say anything against efforts to keep the economy open amid a sixth wave of the pandemic. ​

With all the talk about inflation and cost of living, one important commitment is missing from this fourth-year budget is the middle-class income tax cut promised by PCs on the 2018 campaign trail. Will the other relief measures be enough to placate voters? Will affordability ultimately become the ballot box issue? Ontarians will have to find out for themselves on June 2. ​

You can download our budget analysis here.

If your organization is asking these questions, our team of political experts has the answers. Please reach out to start a conversation at info@navltd.com.

You can also stay in the know by subscribing to our complimentary Ontario elections updates here.

Ontario Budget 2022_Navigator Summary and Analysis

Growing Opportunity (w/ Ryan Wright)

To kick off season 2, host Jason Hatcher chats with co-founder and president of NuLeaf Farms, Ryan Wright. NuLeaf Farms is a Calgary-based vertical farm changing the game for how western Canadians access fresh produce. The duo discuss innovation in agriculture, addressing food security, and what’s in store for the future of vertical farming.

Pierre Poilievre has muted ‘electability’ challenges, emerging as a prime minister in waiting

It’s less than two weeks from the Conservative party’s first leadership debate, and Pierre Poilievre has established himself as the clear front-runner.

After recently dazzling over a thousand supporters at a packed Steam Whistle brewery event in downtown Toronto, the extent of his lead is such that his competitors have stopped contesting the popularity of his events.

“We have been spending 100 per cent of our time selling memberships,” Patrick Brown’s national co-chair Michelle Rempel Garner told the Globe. Others say that Maxime Bernier also attracted large numbers without it translating proportionally to membership sales or votes.

Both counter arguments hold some truth — but it also goes without saying that any leadership aspirant would kill for the enthusiasm Poilievre has seen across the country, including in unconventional locations like, say, a downtown Toronto brewery.

The question is not whether he leads the enthusiasm race, but rather what this lead means.

Many have questioned if his online followers or rally attendees will purchase Conservative memberships and ultimately vote. That said, it is easy to believe that Canadians willing to wait in line for an hour to attend a political rally during a cold Canadian winter are as likely as anyone to show up in September. His operations team is second to none, and he will benefit from years of legwork building enduring relationships with local riding associations, campus clubs and industry groups across the country.

Critics have also suggested that the tent he has built, while angry and vocal, is simply too narrow to be competitive in a general election. I am not so sure. I think there is a fundamental change in the attitudes of Canadians that many are missing.

While his criticism of the governing Liberals is often hyperbolic, his message to voters is a familiar one for conservatives, characterized by smaller government, a fundamental belief in personal freedoms and attention to pocketbook concerns.

Rather than ask whether Poilievre is too right-wing to be electable, it’s a more useful exercise to examine the “third rails” that have plagued Conservative candidates in the past.

We know, for example, that the Canadian public doesn’t hold the same anti-immigration sentiments as other western nations. Our skills-based assessment process and labour-market need for more qualified workers make large-scale immigration both necessary and popular. That’s why policies that appear resistant to multiculturalism, like the Harper government’s “barbaric cultural practices” hotline, have unquestionably hurt the Conservatives’ brand as a big-tent party.

However, Poilievre appears to understand Canadians’ attitudes, rolling out a plan to speed up wait times for approving foreign credentials as an initial appeal to new Canadians and those who support their participation in the Canadian economy. Surprising many, he has also been willing to depart from social conservatives on issues like abortion and equal marriage, most recently voting with his caucus colleagues to criminalize conversion therapy.

His small-government ethos will inevitably be attacked by labour advocates as an austerity agenda, but he has been assertive and clear in contrasting his own political philosophy versus the current government’s. He argues that endless dependence on printed money drives up the price of goods, only hurting Canadian workers and families.

On other issues, his path forward is less clear. While many Canadians share his criticism of the government’s public health restrictions and inconsistent guidance, an even greater number watched the Ottawa convoy with horror, perplexed that any parliamentarian would stand with an illegal protest as it lay siege to our nation’s capital.

God willing, the COVID-19 debate will be in the rear-view mirror by our next federal election campaign, but Poilievre must work to ensure he is not defined by his most provocative public positions.

Maintaining party enthusiasm while growing the tent has been an unmanageable balancing act for his two predecessors. But with every jam-packed rally, Pierre Poilievre moves that much closer to getting the keys to Stornoway and setting his sights on a bigger target.