The Honourable Perrin Beatty is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the 200,000-member Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canada’s largest and most representative national business association. Prior to joining the Canadian Chamber in August 2007, Perrin was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME).
A descendant of one of Canada’s most prominent manufacturing families, Perrin grew up in Fergus, Ontario and graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1971.
Perrin was first elected to the House of Commons as a Progressive Conservative in 1972. During his 21 years in Parliament, he served as Minister in seven different portfolios, including Treasury Board, National Revenue, Solicitor General, Defence, National Health and Welfare, Communications and External Affairs.
In 1994, Perrin joined a number of private sector boards and worked as a consultant in the field of communications. He was an Honorary Visiting Professor with the Department of Political Science, University of Western Ontario. From 1995 to 1999, Perrin was President and CEO of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In 2008, Perrin was named Chancellor of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. In 2013, he received an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa from Western University. In 2016, Perrin received an honorary degree,honoris causa from University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
Perrin is also a member of the board of directors of Mitsui Canada.
Representing over 200,000 businesses, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce connects businesses of all sizes, from all sectors and from all regions of the country to advocate for public policies that will foster a strong and competitive economic environment that will benefit not only businesses but communities and families across Canada as well.
With a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, we are the largest and most influential business association in Canada. As the primary and vital connection between business and the federal government, our views are sought after and respected by the government, business leaders and the media thanks to our well-researched reports, analyses, position papers and policy resolutions that reflect a broad business perspective.
As October approaches, the federal parties will be launching their election platforms, but the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is starting the race off with the launch of its own platform Vote Prosperity in early May. We spoke to the Honourable Perrin Beatty, P.C., O.C., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Chamber ahead of this election season.
How is the Canadian Chamber preparing for the upcoming federal election?
We are putting the voice of Canadian businesses front and centre in the upcoming federal election with the launch of Vote Prosperity, our economic blueprint for a more prosperous Canada. We have called on all the federal parties to address the long-term success of our economy by supporting the priorities in our election platform.
What are the priorities that Vote Prosperity focuses on?
With the objective of helping businesses create jobs, attract investment, achieve growth and strengthen communities, Vote Prosperity focuses on the following seven priorities:
- A tax system that is fair, efficient and modern.
- A regulatory system that works for everyone.
- Access to new markets around the world and the elimination of trade barriers at home.
- Resources to help small and medium companies grow and succeed.
- Innovation and infrastructure to make Canada the most connected country in the world.
- A workforce with the skills, education and training to prosper.
- A healthier pharmacare system for healthier Canadians.
What are some specific challenges SMEs are currently facing?
Like their larger counterparts, Canadian SMEs need relief from the tax and regulatory systems that have become increasingly complex and dysfunctional over the years. But SMEs also face challenges that are unique to them, including little time and few resources to identify opportunities presented by trade agreements and government programs to help them grow. SMEs that do decide to make the exporting leap need ready access to in-country resources to ensure they can comply with regulatory requirements. SMEs also have difficulties here at home too. Dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is the pain point cited most by local chambers whose membership are mostly SMEs.
To help solve these issues for SMEs, what are you asking all federal party leaders to commit to?
The next federal government can play its part by:
- Providing sector-by-sector analyses of free trade agreements (rather than agreement-by-agreement) and communicating them widely;
- Providing high-potential SMEs with access to experts to help them navigate the relevant markets;
- Ensuring federal programs and interactions with business align with and respect small business realities; and
- Conducting an independent service delivery audit of the Canada Revenue Agency, targeted at identifying and eliminating the compliance, audit and communication problems small businesses face in dealing with the agency.
Any final thoughts, Perrin?
For all of our challenges, Canadians remain among the most fortunate people in the world. All we need is the vision to recognize the potential of our SMEs and determination to create the opportunities for them and all Canadians. That is what we are setting out to do with Vote Prosperity.
To learn more about the Canadian Chamber’s Vote Prosperity election platform, visit www.VoteProsperityCA.ca.