P.E.I. 'setting the pace' for Canada in economy and politics, says Perrin Beatty
Canadian Chamber of Commerce CEO says business should be a top priority in upcoming federal election
The president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce says the rest of Canada would do well to follow P.E.I.'s lead — not just in economic performance, but how it handled itself in the recent provincial election.
Perrin Beatty, who was also a long-serving Progressive Conservative MP and former head of the CBC, was on P.E.I. Tuesday to speak at the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce annual president's luncheon.
He said there are two areas that have impressed him about P.E.I.: the economy — "the fact is you're leading the country" — and the civility with which the political parties conducted themselves during the provincial election campaign.
"This is remarkable and is really setting the pace for what we need across Canada," he said.
"And to hear the premier today talking about the mandate to consult with and work with and find common ground with the opposition, is something you don't see in any other jurisdiction in Canada.
"If we can achieve that in October with the federal election, we would be doing very well as Canadians."
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has launched an election policy website which pushes for business to be a top priority in the upcoming federal election.
Greatest single impediment
Beatty said despite P.E.I.'s high economic performance, there are still challenges for businesses. He said a survey of Charlottetown chamber members showed the greatest single impediment to growing a business on P.E.I. was the difficulty in attracting and holding the people with the skills they need.
We need to build a 21st century workforce to compete in a 21st century global economy.— Perrin Beatty
"And if you were to do the same survey anywhere else in Canada you'd get the same response," he said.
"So we need to build a 21st century workforce to compete in a 21st century global economy."
'Outdated' tax system
He said whoever forms the next federal government can improve the business environment by reviewing the "outdated" tax system — not necessarily lowering taxes, he said, but at least making them less complicated.
He said it's also an opportunity to reduce barriers for women, Indigenous people, people with disabilities and seniors to enter the workforce.
The best advice he can give to small businesses, he said, is to stay connected to their customers, especially in a global economy.
"Your competition today is not just the guy across the street or somebody in Toronto. You're up against the very best people anywhere in the world who are one mouse click away."
More P.E.I. news
With files from Mainstreet P.E.I. and CBC News: Compass