Support your local entrepreneurs

It’s no secret that entrepreneurs abound in Canada, but a lot of them just take money out of the economy and put it back after slicing a nice healthy cut into their bank account. (No, I never mentioned offshore bank accounts.)

But what about those who actually export and bolster our economy? Obviously someone has to balance up the manufactured goods pouring in from China and the U.S.

But, in fact, we do have some excellent manufacturers, including some who make computer stuff, that bring a nice glow to the trade figures (albeit not as bright as our exports of trees, earth and maybe sometime soon, our water). Take for instance our Michael Cowpland with Corel Corp. Certainly his promotional methods of using family mounds may not suit everyone’s taste, but it’s a Barnum & Bailey world, and Mr. Cowpland knows it.

So one has to admire Corel for battling the trade deficit, and one has to admire those who support the company’s efforts.

Corel being in Ottawa, one would also suppose that the various government and municipal departments would be in ecstasy over a true blue, 100 per cent Canadian company that did not sell itself to the Americans but actually tried to buy an American software company – and a big one at that.

Let us just count the number of companies sold to the U.S. and those bought from the U.S. The former may take a while but the latter is almost instantaneous.

Unfortunately, however, for Mr. Cowpland, Canadians suffer from vast gobs of imported inferiority complex and want to prostrate themselves to the world and ensure that they are well and truly trampled on.

“To hell with Canadian economy,” they cry. “Give us the tools and we will pound ourselves to porridge.”

So what do we see happening with Corel busily exporting and fighting to be an international player while snuggling under the municipality of Ottawa? Well, for starters both the City of Ottawa and the City of Gloucester support Corel by using WordPerfect, while for some reason the City of Kanata uses Word – strange but true).

This is real appreciation, and let’s not get into the difference between WordPerfect and Word because some like one and some like t’other – it’s a toss up. But one can, at least, always rely on the Feds to support our economy – yes? What department would not consult users, spend a fortune on retraining, bend the tender to the U.S., and not pick a product built in their own back yard? No one, of course. No Federal department of any worth would be so ridiculous, and certainly would not allow a selection based on the opinions of just a few men as against those of hundreds of users. I mean, such a mammoth blow to a Canadian corporation would be defenceless.

But then again if you are the Department of National Defence you probably know nothing about either economy, defence or nationalism. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, on the other hand, did do the right thing, and chose to use WordPerfect (obviously they see what goes on in other countries).

But enough of taking pot shots at civil servants with large salaries to justify this – what about our big Canadian industries? Do they support WordPerfect?

Well, it would seem not enough to really give a show of support and not enough to show Canadian solidarity. Pity, only in Canada you say?

So, back to Mr. Cowpland. True, he is facing some problems from people who were trying to do what he wanted to do – make money playing with stocks.

However, it would seem advisable for this raspy rapid mover to keep a check on just how much support he gets from Canadian industry. If it is mediocre, then maybe he should blow away his employees in Ottawa, vacate his office block, and get to one of those states in the U.S. that give all those lovely incentives, or even go to Europe. Let’s face it, Michael, if you cannot get support in Canada why not go someplace where you can?

Robinson has been involved with high-tech Canadian start-up companies –

including Cisco, Sytek, and Comten – for more than 30 years. He can be

reached at