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Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

Happy Canada Day: Spotlight on Bold bets

This year Canadians around the world are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation

Reaching this milestone is an ideal time to reflect on how far we’ve come as a nation and what we’ve learned along the way. Without a doubt, Canada is a great place in which to live and work, and a country that regularly punches above its weight on the world stage. Most importantly, we brought the world peanut butter!

As we look back on our 150-year journey as a nation, it becomes clear that the history of Canada is one of bold bets and courageous choices. Confederation itself is certainly one, as is the expansion of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. More recent examples include the passage of universal healthcare, the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the imposition of federal budget cuts in the mid-90s.

These seminal moments in our history have shaped our nation and helped us define what it means to be Canadian. Today, as we turn our attention to the challenge of creating a prosperous future for all Canadians, it’s important to take a deeper look at these remarkable achievements―and learn from them.

What can Canada’s proud history of deliberate and decisive actions teach us about making future bold bets?

  1. Find credible and courageous leaders who are willing to put their legacy on the line for something they strongly believe in. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was willing to lose an election for the 1995 budget cuts.
  2. Use evidence and expertise from non-partisan groups to stimulate debate and provide credibility. In 1982, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed the Macdonald Commission to investigate and report on Canada’s long-term economic potential, prospects, and challenges. The 13 commissioners represented diverse elements of Canadian society and their findings were instrumental in sparking Canada’s free trade negotiations.
  3. Craft a clear vision that speaks to each stakeholder as an individual. Sir John A. Macdonald understood and conveyed how Confederation would specifically benefit each region in an effort to build broad support for the move.
  4. Gain the support of potential opposition for your target results to build momentum, even if debate over the fine print continues. The Liberal government reached across the floor to gain the support of the Reform Party for the 1995 budget cuts.
  5. Take the long view and understand that a bold bet’s true benefits come to fruition over time. While roughly 200,000 Canadian manufacturing jobs were lost in the two years after NAFTA was signed, the country realized significant benefits over the long term. Trade with other NAFTA nations now accounts for over 70% of Canadian exports.
  6. Iterate towards success by breaking down big, bold bets into smaller, more manageable wagers that provide opportunities to learn from experience. Saskatchewan’s experience testing public healthcare preceded the successful introduction of universal healthcare nationwide.

At Deloitte, we believe that now is the time to use these lessons of history to help us take decisive action and ensure a prosperous Canada for many years to come. Read our newest report, Bold bets for our country, to find out more about what we must do to build a better future for all.

Why does Canada need to be bold now?

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