Chretien to create 2,000 university research chairs

TORONTO — Prime Minister Jean Chretien had a word of advice to the business leaders in the audience at the Can>Win 2002 Summit Tuesday.

“”It’s important to make big profits, but when you make big profits, I take a part of them,”” but only to benefit the less fortunate, he half-joked.

Chretien,

who says his government’s goal is to make the Maple Leaf a “”global trademark for innovation excellence in the 21st century,”” attributes Canada’s success in the new economy to the fact that the country has embraced the Internet as both a business and consumer tool. He also pointed to what he called the government’s pro-investment framework for lower personal and corporate taxes and “”the most generous research and development tax regime in the world.””

Chretien extolled the importance of partnerships with the private sector, saying the government’s role is to build a framework for innovation on which the private sector can build.

Of equal importance, however, he says, is investment in R&D.

The government, he says, is committed to creating 2,000 new research chairs at Canadian universities, although he didn’t specify the timeframe for those chairs.

“”Our universities are among the best in the world,”” says Chretien. “”Just ask Bill Gates. He has enjoyed great success recruiting research talent from the University of Waterloo (in Ontario).””

The feds are also doubling their investment in R&D, with the goal of making Canada among the top five countries in R&D by 2010.

And while the government has more plans to act on its innovation strategy “”some unique to Canada, some based on the experiences of other nations who, like us, are embracing the opportunities of the new economy,”” the government has to ensure Canadians can trust the integrity of public and private sector organizations, he says. To bolster that trust, he will be announcing a “”significant public sector ethics package this fall which will have transparency as its watchword,”” and which can serve as an example to the private sector.

CN Rail Co. president Paul Tellier praised Chretien’s speech, but said the government should beware its own influence. “”An innovation agenda is not just about money and R&D and more attention to skilled training,”” said Tellier, who served as deputy minister of Mining, Energy and Resources in 1982. “”Until I went over to the other side I had know idea of the impact of public policy on the bottom line.””

— with files from Shane Schick

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