Trudeau needs to split trade, economic development, and small business ministerial portfolios

Port of Montreal (Photo by Cephas, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

If you are a fan of this website or RealAg Radio you know one of my favourite topics to rant about is the current Canadian government’s lip service to being focused on trade.

Much of this is triggered by the fact we are an export-focused nation with much of our GDP driven by trade but the trade ministry is also shared with small business and economic development. This is a significant error on the part of the PMO, in my opinion.

With International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, Minister Mary Ng has her hands full. The vastness of stakeholders to manage is so immense in each of these portfolios alone, never mind one mega portfolio. This structure enables poor performance and ineffectiveness. Minister Ng must balance the priorities of small business taxation concerns for subway franchisees while corresponding with China on non-tariff trade barriers. This is not sustainable if our country is serious about these issues. To be honest, I am not sure with this ministry combination we are taking small business or economic development serious, either.

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This is by no means a slight against Minister Ng and the job that she has done. Without a ballooning staff roster, who could have real success with such a stretched set of priorities and stakeholders?

I can see how the government got to this accumulation of roles by connecting the opportunity dots for small business and trade promotion, but the execution falls flat. The signal is that these responsibilities are not significant enough to fly solo and need to be wrapped up in a tangled web of mediocrity.

Canada needs to split these portfolios and so the ministers responsible for each can focus on success. Canadians impacted by small business, economic development, and international trade are counting on it.

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Categories: Opinion / Politics / Trade