UPDATE: This post from February 21, 2016, is being republished in the light of the announcement that Club Penguin […]


British Columbia and New Zealand share many economic similarities, except that New Zealand has way more sheep, are way better at rugby and are better sailors. Both economies are focused on natural resource exploitation, tourism, wine, and horticulture. Both economies have similar populations though we have more space and are not isolated in the South Pacific. The motion picture industry has been a major factor in both economies, but both are highly vulnerable to foreign exchange fluctuations. Both economies have made efforts to diversify into high tech, pouring millions into development of startups. Both economies have had modestly successful companies in high tech, which have been bought out and moved out. The crucial difference may be New Zealand’s pragmatism about how to deal with this economic reality. British Columbia could learn from New Zealand.


The Bank of Canada’s Spring 2015 Business Outlook Survey (link to complete report below) released this week, gives more reason for serious concern regarding the economic prospects for all Canada, and the widening impact of Canada’s “natural resource curse”: it’s fossil fuel based economy. The report points to a significant increase in business pessimism about the economy as a whole, well beyond the oil economy, which is causing business to significantly reduce plans for capital spending and hiring. As I pointed out previously, the impact of the oil economy collapse is likely to reverberate throughout the Okanagan. The BofC report suggests that the impacts will be even deeper and more diverse.


Regrettably, this week’s events in the oil market, provide further evidence of the dire consequences ahead for the Canadian oil economy. Oil industry bulls who have been betting on a quick rebound in oil prices are likely to get severely burned, and the prospects for the local tourism based economy are only worsening.


A local journal today glowingly reported that not one, but two local companies had won investment on the Dragon’s Den Canadian “reality” television show. What struck me about the two, apparently best “winning ideas” from our community, was how utterly mundane they were: an “empty beer bottle handling system” and “illuminated party clothing.” As an entrepreneur myself, I first need to give respect to the two entrepreneurs who achieved this success with the likes of Kevin O’Leary and the other investors. It is no mean feat and they should be acknowledged and congratulated for it. On the other hand, these are not the kind of ideas that are going to make a major dent in the local or Canadian economy. Meanwhile in Vancouver, two startups, D-Wave and General Fusion are working on Big Ideas that could change our lives.