Former federal finance minister Bill Morneau spoke of Canada’s bleak economic outlook while promoting his new book, Where to From Here: A Path to Canadian Prosperity, during an interview for the Paul Wells Show podcast on Monday.
“Change happens, but it only happens if we question the way we’re doing things right now,” he said during the wide-ranging interview.
“Canada’s productivity has not grown as rapidly as other countries,” he said. “And worse than that, our expectations are – based on how we’re doing things right now – that it is not going to get better.”
Morneau resigned in August 2020 after five years as finance minister in the wake of the WE Charity scandal and highly publicized COVID-19 pandemic aid policy disagreements with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office.
He says there is a clear need for tension between the finance minister and prime minister: “You need that [tension] if you’re going to get to good public policy outcomes.”
“But if it gets too intense, you have to think about whether you’re going to be able to continue to work together,” Morneau went on. “When the finance minister and the prime minister, or the prime minister’s office don’t get along, typically it’s the prime minister that wins.”
Morneau’s sudden foray into politics in 2019 after a successful business career led to wide skepticism about his political insights. However, he is adamant about the need for diverse perspectives in government.
“It is really important that people who are not lifetime politicians get into politics,” he said. “It is important for us to bring people in that say, ‘It doesn’t have to be this way.’”
The discussion was part of veteran journalist Paul Wells’ four-part interview series at the Munk School, featuring prominent Canadians engaged in sustained ways with the central question: How are we going to live together now?