The Last Word – The Honourable Perrin Beatty
The Honourable Perrin Beatty, PC, OC, is the President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canada’s largest and most representative national business association.
Before joining the Canadian Chamber in August 2007, Perrin held the same role at Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME). He is currently a member of the board of directors of Mitsui Canada. In 2018, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2020, the Government of Japan awarded Perrin the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star.
Perrin has been a true and tireless leader for our national business community during the pandemic. CAPITAL magazine met with him to ask a few questions about our city’s future.
What priorities should our business and political leaders be focused on moving forward to reach our full potential in terms of economic growth?
The federal government needs to continue to safely get us through the COVID-19 pandemic. We also need to have a strategy for growth at the private sector level, driven by investment. There is a global competition for investment and it is very important to send a message that business is wanted, and will be supported in Canada.
The government also has an important leadership role in areas like regulatory reform, taking down inter-provincial trade barriers, and in managing the relationship with our trading partners like the United States. All of this is critical to investment and growth in Canada and needs to be a priority.
Both business and political leaders need to understand the changes that have taken place as a result of COVID-19. The nature of work has changed. For example, with respect to digitalization – we’re more online than ever before.
It was encouraging to see how many local businesses were able to reinvent themselves during the pandemic. They developed new products and services and delivered them in new ways. It is going to be critical for businesses to be even more entrepreneurial and inventive in terms of how they respond to changing circumstances in the future.
Do you see unique opportunities for Ottawa as a city and as the nation’s capital?
Being Canada’s capital, we are very cosmopolitan. Our city combines amenities like a top notch international airport, first rate restaurants and entertainment, renowned educational institutions, great sports and recreational facilities, and a diversified economy, with all of the benefits of being a smaller community.
One of the lessons the pandemic taught us is that people are going to put a higher priority in the future on quality of life. Ottawa excels in terms of quality of life. There is not a more livable capital city anywhere in the world. And because of that, Ottawa has a great competitive advantage both in terms of attracting business and also in attracting top-notch talent.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the role of our business leadership organizations?
We learned that while our traditional role of being a voice of business remains central to what we do, the business community has a wide range of other needs as well.
During the pandemic we formed coalitions with a wide variety of other business leaders. A local example is our partnership with the Ottawa Board of Trade, to distribute rapid test kits for COVID-19, supplied by the federal government, to small and medium-sized businesses.
Our role today is also to provide leadership within the business community on issues like diversity, and best practices related to environmental, social and governance goals. Business has a key leadership role to play that goes well beyond bottom line considerations.