In my earlier post on March 11th , “Alberta Bitumen Bubble and the Canadian Economy: An Industry Analysis Case Study,” I reported the stark facts of Canada’s current economic crisis as announced by Canada’s Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, and Alberta Premier Allison Redford, directly resulting from pricing forecasts for “Western Canada Select” (WCS) from the oil sands. In that post I also explored the now well-established economic conundrum known as the “natural resource curse.” This simply means that economies that rely heavily on natural resource exploitation, have historically underperformed more diverse economies. This is now most certainly the case in Canada.
Yesterday, I was an invited guest at an annual “entrepreneurship” event held in Vancouver. The event is an extraordinary opportunity to connect with most of the major figures, leaders, and investors in the entrepreneurship community. It also prominently showcased presentations from a number of the most promising new startups. But the undercurrents in conversations around the room were soul searching questions about the current glut of startup accelerators around North America, and the frothy euphoria and enthusiasm about “entrepreneurship.” Some experienced entrepreneurial investors complained about the air of unreality of it all, and the excess of mediocre companies being cranked out. A very prominent and experienced Vancouver venture capitalist pointed out to me that a glut of Canadian startups only compounds the long-standing issue that Canada could not produce the necessary risk capital even if more of these companies were investment ready, which they are not. A related issues is the waste of government money in these companies. Clearly, the situation is a mess.
The formation of the University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Management chapter of Enactus occurred only three months ago, under the guidance of Dean Roger Sugden, but the Enactus student leadership team has already attracted nearly two dozen members, all of whom, including the leadership will return next year, to build the organization for handoff to future Faculty of Management students. Meanwhile, many of our current Enactus members will be off to destinations around the World for the summer.
This is another post in my Industry Analysis series on the Alberta Bitumen Bubble and The Canadian Economy, and Canada’s strategic options. In a clear sign that the Harper government’s anxiety over the tars sands is increasing exponentially, the rhetoric from the Conservative government has become ever more shrill and less rational in tone. Rumors have abounded for some time that Harper himself is in fervent denial of climate change, but his PR handlers have cautioned him not to personally come “out of the proverbial closet” on climate change because it would cost Conservatives votes, the thing they care most about. But this stance appears to be changing, as Canada’s “natural resource curse”, consequent economic downturn, Canada’s failure to invest in innovation, and national productivity crisis converge on the Harper government. An ominous parallel can be drawn with South African President Thabo Mbeki’s official denial that HIV did not cause AIDS, which became an international embarrassment for South Africa. implications for all Canadians are immense.