The Sunday Magazine·THE SUNDAY EDITION

Shoring up Canada's economic future: a conversation with Dominic Barton

Are you worried about your economic future? Well, who isn't (aside from maybe the one percent)? Michael talks to Dominic Barton, chair of the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, which has been tasked by finance minister Bill Morneau to come up with big ideas to ensure the long-term prosperity of Canada. No pressure.
Dominic Barton, chair of an advisory committee to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Justin Trudeau came to power with a pledge to make life better for Canada's middle class: better jobs and better economic growth and security. 

Not exactly revolutionary stuff. It would be hard to think of a political leader who didn't promise a better economic future for the middle class.

But if there were a widely agreed upon formula to make that happen, we might not have the growing gap between the one per cent and everyone else.

Well-paying jobs wouldn't be disappearing. And middle class anxiety would not be boiling over into populist political movements.​

​The Liberal government is looking for suggestions. 

And it is looking to Dominic Barton to provide them.

People want to see real stories. They don't want to hear the statistics.- Dominic Barton

​Mr. Barton was appointed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau as chair of the Advisory Council on Economic Growth. He has been tasked with helping to "create conditions for long-term growth and a strong middle class."

The Advisory Council has released two reports so far, in February and last October.

It has recommended establishing a national infrastructure bank, increasing foreign investment in Canada, increasing immigration levels, fostering greater innovation, raising the retirement age, pursuing more trade with China, and training people for the jobs of tomorrow.

More broadly, Barton sees a Canadian economy that needs to change dramatically—and quickly—to adapt to a rapidly changing global economy, political instability and changing demographics.

We're talking about how we move the bottom groups up — in a world that is going to get worse for them because of automation.- Dominic Barton

Dominic Barton was born in Uganda, grew up in British Columbia and is now based in London, England, where he's the managing director of McKinsey and Company—the world's most prominent consulting company, with 25,000 employees working with businesses, NGOs and governments around the world.

From his vantage point in the highest echelons of global finance and business, he sees capitalism itself as being in a crisis of its own making—one that could potentially lead to its own undoing if it doesn't reform itself and address the concerns of the many millions of people who feel left behind or cheated by it.

Click 'listen' above to hear Michael's interview with Dominic Barton.