CATA will ask feds for stimulus package

Published: December 10th, 2008

John Reid, president of the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance(CATA), shared with me a draft press release in which the advocacygroup will ask Ottawa to deliver $60-billion in infrastructure spendingto stimulate the Canadian economy.

It’s part of a campaign that will roll out over the next couple ofdays, which will involve using Web 2.0 technologies to allow allCanadians to participate in the creation of a stimulus manifesto ofsorts.

It struck me as odd timing — lobbying for a stimulus package whenthe government is AWOL — but Reid says that’s exactly the time for CATAto step up.

“This is why we’ve often positioned ourselves as a political partyfor the industry,” Reid said. When the political waters are murky, CATAcan speak clearly about what is good for the economy.

Reid cites a body of economic advice from around the world that sayswe’re going to have to spend our way out of the comingrecession/depression. “Governments have a legitimate role to beanticyclical,” Reid said. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget updatelast month — which precipitated the hailstorm that’s left ustemporarily sans-government by conspicuously avoiding a stimuluspackage — “missed the mark completely,” according to Reid.

CATA’s party-neutral, believing if the organization is clear aboutwhat’s best for the economy, its platform’s appeal will cross partylines. “We just want to make sure everybody’s working,” he said.

The collective wisdom seems to be that targeting infrastructure —roads, bridges, green technology, mass transit and ICT — is the bestway to stimulate the economy. There’s a time when ideology’s got toserve economic reality, and I say we’re there.

But CATA’s not just proposing infrastructure spending. Reid saysthey’ll be keeping an eye out for “disconnections” between spendingprograms and the economy — for example, if the research and developmenttax regime isn’t changed, that will erode the value of theinfrastructure investment.

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