Thursday, June 16, 2016

Meet the new Small Business Minister

The previous post refers to our new Small Business Minister, Bardish Chagger, but you might not know anything about her yet. She's a ridiculously young 35-year-old rookie MP who combines youthful spunk with seriousness of purpose.

She's very different from the more staid individuals who have occupied this post in past governments. Yes, I have high hopes for her.

Here's are a few things you should know about Minister Chagger:

Chagger comes from a working-class Sikh family that immigrated from Punjab, India. Her grandparents and father worked in a Waterloo carpet factory when they came here in the 1970s... 
Chagger's family lived through ugly racism at first, including rocks thrown at their house and graffiti spray-painted on its walls. But they always kept their eyes on that better life for which they came to Canada.
See more at:

She represents Waterloo, that vital city of can-do technology and entrepreneurship. Her official bio reports:

Prior to becoming MP for Waterloo, Bardish Chagger worked at the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, an organization that assists new Canadians as they transition to full participation in our community’s life. As the Special Projects Coordinator, Bardish planned and coordinated the annual Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Festival in Kitchener’s Victoria Park, bringing together community, cultural and business groups in Waterloo Region. She also worked with other agencies to offer an annual Global Skills Conference to introduce foreign-trained professionals to related professions and to find meaningful employment.

She loves Twitter:

Her mandate includes: 
  • Support the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development in launching an Innovation Agenda to expand support for incubators and accelerators, as well as the emerging national network for business innovation and cluster support. In addition, work with him as he clarifies innovation and business development programs, including the Industrial Research Assistance Program, and new programs, to ensure we are world leaders in clean and sustainable technologies and to ensure that our programs are supportive of small businesses that are seeking to become more productive, more innovative and more export-oriented.
  • Work with the Minister of International Trade to prepare and execute a new Canadian international trade strategy to ensure that programs and approaches are supportive of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  Specifically, work to make it easier for SMEs to take advantage of government financing and export-oriented supports.
  • Work with the Minister of Finance as the small business tax rate reduction is implemented to ensure that it is used to support small businesses, rather than used to reduce personal income tax obligations for high-income earners.
  • Engage provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to create as much alignment as possible with complementary programs delivered by other governments to support SMEs.
  • Work with your provincial, territorial, and municipal counterparts to promote Canadian tourism and strengthen the Canadian brand abroad for tourists.
  • Support your Ministerial colleagues as they seek ways to reduce the administrative burden on small business.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pushing Back against Bureaucracy

At Startup Canada's Startup Day on the Hill last month in Ottawa, a number of entrepreneurs had a chance to sit down with senior members of the federal government to push our own specific ideas for new policies to support small business.

Most of the proposals involved new ways of funding investment in small business. That crucial gap being well covered, I took a different focus. I pushed for Ottawa to keep pushing back on bureaucratic regulations and red tape that hinder business dynamism and growth. The previous Conservative government was quite diligent on this file, but the Liberals had seemed to take their eye off the ball.

My proposal: that federal civil servants and regulators be mandated to review all new rules and legislation with an "entrepreneur-first" orientation. Any components that would stymie or slow entrepreneurial activity, I posited, should be shipped back to committee for overhaul.

You can read the details below.

(Note: Towards the end of Startup Day, I had the chance to speak with Small Business Minister Bardish Chagger, and ask her about the status of her government's war on red tape. She said the commitment is still there, but they're working on a new way to frame it. So let's keep the pressure on!)

Below, you'll also see my related recco: to raise the threshold for GST/HST participation to $60,000, up from the current $30,000. Let's not burden startups by making them all tax collectors!

You can also read my Financial Post article on Startup Day: Four key things Ottawa could do to improve startups’ odds.