Notes for remarks by
The Honourable Mike Harris, MPP
Premier of Ontario
The National Research Council Roundtable
April 19, 2000
In keeping with your theme for today, I want to talk to you about innovations. And
congratulate you for making Ontario a global leader in providing innovative technology
I will also speak about some of the things our government is doing to keep
Ontarios economy strong, and to keep our best and brightest minds here at
It's good to see people whose businesses represent so many different applications
coming together. Just like the connections between the fibre optic technology and the
video equipment in the hotel is helping me to join you today.
New innovations in fibre optic telecommunication, like those being developed by JDS
Uniphase in Nepean, are allowing more and more machines to talk to each other, and to
communicate more quickly.
In today's world, everything is interconnected. And no place better represents that
than today's Ottawa.
Companies that make a whole range of information technology products. From computer
graphics to microsystems. From software, to semiconductors.
You've not only changed the technology. And changed the way people do business. You've
For some, the sign of status in Ottawa used to be a Senate appointment. Now it's the
company box at a Senators' game. With hockey and high tech, Kanata has replaced Parliament
Hill as the most talked about part of the National Capital Region.
In fact, the most famous people in Ottawa aren't Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin,
they're John Roth and Michael Cowpland. With double-digit growth in Ottawas
high-tech sector, and Cisco Systems planning a new development centre -- we're counting
down the days until there are more people in Ottawa working in high tech, than in
Because it's no longer just politics that makes Ottawa our nations capital. It's
also the technology business. Politicians used to believe it was government that held such
a huge country together.
As William Lyon Mackenzie King once said, "If some countries have too much
history, we have too much geography."
We used to count on the railroad to bridge that distance. But today, it's technology.
The Anik satellite was to the 1980s what the Railroad was to the 1880s. Now fibre-optic
technologies are transforming communications around the world.
Our strength in technology and telecommunications used to be a secret. But not any
more. The world is catching on. You know, the current issue of PC Computing tells
Americans, and I quote, "The world's hush hush e-commerce powerhouse is just a few
The world is hearing more success stories from all over Ontario.
Like Keith Peiris. The 11-year old CEO of a London, Ontario company that is designing
They are hearing about made-in-Ontario innovations like the BlackBerry, that was
developed by Waterloo's Research-In-Motion. To give busy executives wireless e-mail
They are hearing about new products from companies like Corel, Nortel, and so many
others. And the world knows to look to Ontario for innovations in information technology.
Canadians are natural innovators. The challenges of our winters have forced us to find
creative solutions. We invented the snowshoe. And the ski-doo, too.
So it's no coincidence that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in Canada. Ice
and snow inspired countless inventions. Not to mention the occasional hockey game.
In the words of another legendary communicator from Brantford. Wayne Gretzky. "I
skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it's been." Could there be any
better description of how Canadian companies approach technology? Of why high-tech took
off in Ottawa? Of why there are so many successful people gathered today at the Chateau
Laurier. It's because you skate to where the puck is going to be!
Last month, an Angus Reid survey of Canada's CEOs was released. It found that 93 per
cent of our CEOs say their companies are doing everything possible to keep a technological
But the same survey found that about 40 per cent say that the most serious issue facing
business today is taxation. Which brings me to the second topic I wish to briefly address.
At Queen's Park we believe that lower taxes lead to a strong economy.
That lower taxes fight the brain drain and encourage our best and brightest young
people to pursue their dreams, right here in Ontario.
That's why we cut personal income taxes. Not slightly. Not marginally. But by more than
30 per cent.
We've already begun cutting them by a further 20 per cent. And we're cutting small
business taxes to the lowest level in Canada.
As well, we're strengthening two of our greatest incentives for people to stay here --
our health care system and our education system. At the same time as we're eliminating the
deficit, we're also investing record amounts into health care.
On the education side, our new Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund has
invested $250 million in 63 research projects, so far. We are working with universities,
research institutes and private sector partners. And with their contributions, we've
leveraged our $250 million investment into a $700 million worth of R&D.
Were tying new funding for universities to actual job placement numbers -- to
encourage universities to give our young people the skills they need to compete. Our new
SuperBuild initiative will help our universities to expand, with new buildings and
programs to prepare our young people for a confident future and connect our communities
And through our Ontario Innovation Trust we have made a $250 million investment in
Ontario's research infrastructure
at universities, colleges, hospitals and research
All of this will help us to capitalize on our traditional strengths. A well-educated
work force. Abundant resources. And a location at the centre of the North American market.
At the Chateau Laurier, you have gathered as leaders. As the people responsible for
finding the new ideas that will help to better integrate technology into people's everyday
You are getting us ready for the world of real time computing. Where the books are
balanced on-line. And more products arrive on time. For a world where the courier industry
will be in greater demand -- as they deliver all those on-line orders.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are the ones shaping that future. And it's an exciting
one for Ontario. One where we continue to be a world leader in innovative ideas and new
I thank you for taking the time to listen to me today, and I wish you all the best for
a very successful roundtable.
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