Ontario

Government as Entrepreneur.

by alec on July 11, 2009

en·tre·pre·neur
n.  A person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

Blazoned across the front page of the local rag, the Ottawa Citizen, this morning’s headline read Billion-dollar business fund overlooks city tech firms.  It seems the Ontario Government yesterday announced a $263-million grant  to establish a Toronto-based studio for French video game giant Ubisoft.  The funds are coming from the $1.15-billion Next Generation of Jobs fund, announced in March 2008, which has so far exclusively invested in the Southern Ontario cities of Toronto, Waterloo, and Windsor, overlooking the more than 1,800 companies in Ottawa’s tech sector.

Never mind that Ubisoft has more than $100-million in profits annually, or that the $263-million spent creates just 800 jobs over the next decade at a cost of $330,000 per job (after all, that’s cheap compared to the auto bailout), or that Dalton McGuinty’s government will run an $18-billion dollar deficit this year.  No, what really galls is the statement in May by then economic development minister Michael Bryant that “This is government picking winners and losers, government as entrepreneur.”

There is no element of risk in spending the taxpayers money.  Taxing struggling families to fund profitable multi-national corporations is closer to the centrally run economies of the Soviet Union than entrepreneurship.

Government as entrepreneur.  It’s enough to make you weep.

More to the point, however, the focus of the Next Generation of Jobs Fund is on employment in existing established businesses.  The money has gone to players in the plastics, automotive, entertainment, and health care industries.  Big announcements, and good photo ops, but a short term and short-sighted strategy.

What’s needed is a strategy to encourage job creation through new ventures and innovation.  For example, funds in the United States and Israel are demonstrating repeatedly that small investments in promising startups, with significant mentorship (think Paul Graham, or Yossi Vardi) can produce dramatic results (think Twitter).  It’s easy to think of a number of successful Ontario entrepreneurs that might be a homegrown Graham or Vardi.  The incentive to invest would be that much greater if the Ontario government had some programs targeted at encouraging those entrepreneurs to invest their dollars in some real entrepreneurs, rather than photo-ops for the Premier.

“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change”, said Alice.
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carrol.

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SCANning the Ontario Tech Corridor

by alec on May 11, 2009

Ottawa tech folks know Tony Patterson’s SCAN as the news source for the local technology industry.  Since last fall, Tony has been chatting with a few of us, myself included, about how to broaden the appeal of SCAN.  Last week he unveiled a new SCAN focused on the Ontario Technology Corridor, from Ottawa through Windsor. With 6,000 companies and 250,000 workers in the Ontario tech industry, he plans to cover everything form bio-tech to software and the communications industry.  The format of the site is easily digestible, with quick single paragraph stories and longer pieces from invited bloggers and tech executives.   

If you have an interest in Canadian tech businesses, visit the new SCAN and let Tony know what you think.

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Ontarian's flock to the Green Party

October 11, 2007

We had an election here in Ontario last night.  The governing Liberals, led by Premier Dalton McGuinty, smoked all three opposition parties walking away with 72 of the 107 seats in the provincial legislature; a significant majority, although a largely unchanged result when compared with the 2003 election.    Despite the unchanged seat count, voters fled the mainstream […]

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Free Call on Electoral Reform in Ontario

September 18, 2007

One of the things we did when we created our Facebook Free Conference Call application was to allow people to create public conference calls.  The idea behind this feature is that you will be able to create public events that happen on a conference call.  Market research showed that Facebook users would be interested in […]

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Harper’s Speech

May 19, 2005

I’m now listening to Stephen Harper’s speech.  He says that tonight’s vote underlines the need for a "strong, united, and principled opposition".  So do something about it Stephen!  You’re the leader of the party. It really doesn’t sound like he has a plan to court the Ontario voter.  What a disappointment, and what a disappointment […]

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Conservative Chimera

May 17, 2005

chi·me·ra also chi·mae·ra  (k-mîr, k-) n. An organism, organ, or part consisting of two or more tissues of different genetic composition, produced as a result of organ transplant, grafting, or genetic engineering. A substance, such as an antibody, created from the proteins or genes or two different species. An individual who has received a transplant of […]

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February 7, 2005

Last week’s Globe carried a story with the headline "Politician’s promises not set in stone, court says".  The Canadian Taxpayers Federation took Dalton McGuinty to court over a broken promise.  In a much publicized media event during his campaign, McGuinty promised not to raise taxes, and then promptly jacked up taxes when he got into power.  […]

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High end Ontario wine outlets?

January 22, 2004

Liberals like idea of stores showcasing Ontario wines, reports the Toronto Star.  This is a good development.  It’s criminal that it’s easier to buy a bottle of Australian or French than Ontario in the provincially run MONOPOLY’s store, when Niagara is less than 2 hours from the main depot for the store.    

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Electricity Cap

November 25, 2003

Ontario government to lift electricity cap. Goes into effect April 1.  Hmmm… maybe I CAN keep the hot tub running this winter.   

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Casting my vote

September 29, 2003

I went and voted at the advanced poll last week. I’ll be watching the returns from Las Vegas Thursday (if it’s on TV there).  Despite my distaste for the tactics the Ontario PC’s employed during the campaign, I voted for them.  As I read more and more about the McGuinty platform, I become more convinced that […]

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