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Do you have the key ingredients for an effective board?

By Denzil Doyle

The recruitment and retention of a good board of directors can be formidable tasks in any company, particularly in a high technology company where a knowledge of the technology as well as an understanding of corporate governance is required.

The first question that the owners of a new company must address is when to start the process of installing a board or if in fact it should be started at all. If the company is a “mom-and-pop” operation and it is the intent of the owners to keep it that way, a board of advisors is likely all that is needed.

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It takes more than bricks and mortar to build a regional economy

By Denzil Doyle

A few years ago, a group of hockey enthusiasts from southwestern Ontario embarked on an ambitious campaign to establish an NHL hockey club in their area. A nasty comment that went around at the time was that it would never happen because if it did, Toronto would want one as well.

That joke came to mind when I was asked to comment on the enthusiasm for the MaRS Centre, a Toronto-based innovation centre, only this time the shoe is on the other foot; MaRS appears to be a successful business accelerator that is being emulated across the country. In fact, it appears to have been looked at in some detail by the people who played a key role in the planning of the Ottawa Innovation Centre, to be located at the Bayview yards area.

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Harper’s free trade efforts need more thought

By Denzil Doyle

Prime Minister Harper is to be congratulated for his efforts to diversify Canada’s international trade so that we are less dependent on the U.S.

The cornerstone of his initiative is the signing of free trade agreements with as many countries as possible around the world. His advisors have obviously alerted him about what would happen to Canada if the U.S. ever becomes energy self-sufficient and does not need our oil, whether it be clean or dirty. They have also likely reminded him that Obama is a protectionist who has goofy ideas of how economies really work. (He obviously studied at the McGuinty School of Economics and majored in windmills and solar panels.)

Harper’s efforts, and the environment in which he is operating, can be looked upon as those of a mother bird who leaves the nest every morning in search of food for the baby birds. However, when he returns he finds that the baby birds have been defecating in the nest all day and that he really doesn’t have anything nice to show to the other big birds with whom he has been cavorting. The baby birds are fighting over things like how many extra worms they should get because they have pipelines running through their corner of the nest, or some of them want to throw their worms overboard and replace them with windmills and solar panels.

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Don Drummond on productivity

By Denzil Doyle

Productivity is a topic that attracts a great deal of attention at both the federal and provincial levels of government in Canada. Most observers paint a grim picture of Canadian productivity across all sectors.

A recent entrant to the debate is Donald Drummond who authored an article in the June 26 issue of the National Post which carried the ominous heading, No more excuses for business. Mr. Drummond is described as “one of Canada’s foremost authorities on economics and an avid contributor to and commentator on Canadian fiscal and public policy.” He is obviously someone we should listen to on a topic of such importance.

I scanned his article carefully to see if it elevated the debate beyond the quagmire in which it has been trapped in recent years. Unfortunately, it did not. Like the others, it leaves one with the impression that Canadians must run a little faster on the treadmill and apply more technology in our manufacturing sector if we are going to close the alleged productivity gap that exists between us and our major trading partners, the U.S. in particular.

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Innovation and the budget

By Denzil Doyle

It was encouraging to see the emphasis that was placed on innovation in the recent budget and in subsequent discussions with the federal finance minister, Jim Flaherty. On the other hand, it was discouraging to read the cover of Maclean’s Magazine that appeared shortly afterward. It read, “Your kids are angrier than you think.” What was equally discouraging was that neither party made the connection between innovation in the Canadian economy (or lack thereof) and youth unrest.

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