In this month’s guide to all things PPF: An ambitious new Can-U.S. project, big productivity ideas and some all-star economists


Canada and the United States: A 21st-century strategy to matter more

Does Canada have what it takes to thrive in a world where the U.S. increasingly turns to isolationism, populism and protectionism? What will happen in November? Are we ready?

PPF, in collaboration with the University of Toronto – Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, has launched an ambitious project to develop a new strategy to guide Canada’s relationship with the United States. It’s called Matter More.

The urgency and importance of the project are outlined in a recently published essay in The Globe and Mail by PPF President and CEO Edward Greenspon and Munk’s Janice Stein and Drew Fagan. Stein is the Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management and Founding Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. Fagan is a Munk Professor and a former assistant deputy minister for foreign policy.

Canada has become “the indispensable ally that has allowed ourselves to dwindle into dispensability,” they write, emphasizing the need to recalibrate Canada’s relationship with the U.S. amidst a shifting geopolitical landscape.

“For all the handwringing over Canada being more alone in the world than ever, our good geography and better geology mean we are not without cards to play,” according to the Globe essay. “These Canadian assets are made to measure for an era in which the ‘friends’ in friend-shoring efforts are desperate to reduce their exposure to the geoeconomic extortions of Russia and China.”

The project aims to find ways for Canada to ‘matter more’ to the U.S. by focusing on deepening, broadening and accelerating linkages between the two countries and will feature ongoing roundtables, consultations and a full report later this year.

For more information on the project, contact Mike Blanchfield, PPF’s Director of Energy and Global Affairs at:


We gathered Canada’s experts to solve the country’s productivity problem

Blow-by-blow: A standing-room-only crowd of wonks, experts and leaders gathered for PPF’s Growth Summit on April 11. Their mission: to tackle Canada’s urgent productivity problem ‘once and for all.’

We covered all the action and provocative conversations — over eight panels plus the annual Indigenous Ownership and Economic Reconciliation Breakfast — in our extensive live blog of the day. Find out what our panelists had to say.

Some highlights:

“There are lots of opportunities on the policy side that could help with productivity. But we should demand from the machinery of the government a big focus on it.” —Simcoe North MP Adam Chambers

“It can be helpful to think of the federation as 13 labs where we can try ideas and take the very best of what we’re learning together.” —Shannon Salter, Deputy Minister & Secretary to Cabinet, Government of British Columbia

“We need to recognize that Canada is a producing nation and one that has to export. We’ve got 37 million people and we produce billions and billions of dollars of productive economic output. That means we need to invest.” —Murad Al-Katib, CEO, AGT Foods

“I think that the note that ties this conversation together well with the rest of the day is that the chronic is now urgent, and the pressure to move is even greater than it’s been before.” —PPF Senior Fellow and Columbia Business School professor Brett House

“There are so many opportunities in terms of productivity and innovation. The policies to enter the market, the barriers are very high. In the private sector, there’s a lack of imagination and collaboration in making those bold moves.” —Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health

Top 10: We also collected the most intriguing ideas that emerged at the summit to help fix the national productivity crisis. (Our unofficial motto, after all, was ‘nobody leaves the room until we solve this.’) The ideas include: building a National Productivity Council, putting a gender-lens-type treatment on the problem and doubling down on technical skills.

The end of hope? In the Harry Kitchen Lecture in Public Policy, Globe and Mail columnist Andrew Coyne makes the case for the pressing need for growth, as per capita GDP in Canada falls to dangerously low levels. Read an edited version of his speech, or watch the whole thing. It’s an essential addition to the productivity debate.

Wonks and leaders gather for 2024 Testimonial Dinner

Super speeches: About 1,200 policy and business leaders gathered for the Annual Testimonial Dinner, Canada’s best and biggest policy celebration. This year PPF honoured seven incomparable Canadians. Read or watch each of their inspiring speeches from the evening:

Former astronaut and cabinet minister Marc Garneau talked about serving his country and the clarifying force of ‘a rocket about to unleash seven million pounds of thrust.’

Hyman Solomon Award honouree Paul Wells spoke on the importance of journalism: ‘When politicians go around us, are they doing it to get the truth to you by a shorter path?’

Emerging Leader Award honouree Raven Lacerte discussed the national movement she launched to end violence against women: ‘I am standing up for my daughters. Who are you standing up for?’

Jayna Hefford described launching the wildly successful PWHL: ‘It’s not about hockey. It’s about changing society. We’re creating change for the next generation.’

Murad Al-Katib pushed for a more ambitious Canada: ‘I want to scale businesses and I want the future to be there for our generations to come.’

Janice Charette extolled the privilege of a life in public service: ‘We need to celebrate those that are actually in the arena.’

JP Gladu explained how Indigenous nations are key to unlocking Canada’s potential: ‘The Canadian balance sheet is starting to shift. Which side of the ledger do you want to be on?’

Works of art: This year’s Testimonial Dinner awards were designed by artist Kathryn Corbiere. See our profile of her and what inspired the works.“Like Corbiere’s celebrated larger works, the statues she designed for PPF’s awards are rooted in her natural surroundings, specifically the woods on her family property. Walking there, she noticed that the pine trees stood out amid the other growth. Fewer in number, they nevertheless rose higher, like the award recipients.”

The evening also featured NNA-winning editorial cartoonist Michael de Adder live-sketching the honourees. His cartoon from the night:



A hit and a miss: Our coverage of Budget 2024 looked at the biggest thing hidden in the 400-page document — plus one pretty worrying oversight.   First the good news. A document imbued with incrementalism offered at least one big energy policy advance with the long-awaited Indigenous Loan Guarantee Program, writes Mike Blanchfield, PPF Director, Energy Policy and Global Affairs. The program will provide $5 billion in loan guarantees to unlock access to capital for Indigenous communities. “The next hurdle will, of course, mean getting the money out the door for this reconciliation opportunity sooner rather than later — always a challenge in Canada.”

In a special post-Budget episode of PPF’s WONK podcast, Mark Podlasly, the Chief Sustainability Officer of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition, sat down with host Edward Greenspon to explain how the program puts Indigenous communities on a whole new path.

And the bad news: Although the federal government outlined a number of small pandemic preparedness steps in the Budget, other countries are making giant leaps, writes Steven Hogberg, PPF Health and Life Sciences Policy Lead. The U.S. has the standard for health security oversight with BARDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Health security experts had hoped to see funding for a Canadian version of BARDA in the budget. Without it, Canada is left “quickly falling behind,” lacking the kind of plan, network and resources other countries enjoy “to pivot and rapidly respond” to threats.

A growing library: Other recent episodes of WONK include a pair of superstar economists:

  • RBC Chief Economist Craig Wright — ‘the fascinating economist’ — discusses his upcoming retirement after 23 years in the top job, as well as what’s changed over his career and how Canada needs to do better.
  • The OECD’s incoming Chief Economist, Álvaro Santos Pereira, talks about the productivity problem and why he’s optimistic Canada will solve the crisis.

The WONK podcast’s backlist has quickly grown into a rich library. From learning about the ‘Olympic truce’ at Paris’ upcoming Games to the ‘energy trilemma’ of the clean transition and why we shouldn’t fear AI, check out all the episodes anywhere you listen to podcasts.

News weekly: Be sure to sign up for PPF’s weekly newsletters. The Atlantic Momentum newsletter is now one of the most followed newsletters in Atlantic Canada. Join thousands of others in the region and beyond who subscribe to keep track of what’s making waves.

And PPF: Health Security offers a weekly dose of news about emergency preparedness in a post-pandemic world.


Calling all Alberta policy leaders: Are you working on the development of AI governance and policy initiatives? Then join us for the AI Policy Compass — a program we’ve offered to sold-out classes in Ottawa and Montreal, now being offered for the first time in Alberta at the University of Alberta on June 4-5, 2024. This learning program equips policy leaders from all sectors with a foundational understanding of AI technology, its risks and transformative opportunities, as well as the latest legal and regulatory approaches to AI governance. This program is offered in partnership with Mila (Quebec AI Institute) and Shingai Manjengwa, Head of AI Education at ChainML.

Register now


The PPF Frank McKenna Awards 2024 will celebrate leaders making Canada and the Atlantic region richer through their ingenuity and initiative. This year’s event will take place on Oct. 10 at Pier 21 in Halifax. Register now — and stay tuned for announcements about our 2024 honorees.

How will we top this year’s incredible mix of debate, policy thinking and celebration? The planning is already underway for Canada Growth Summit and Testimonial Dinner 2025! Consider registering now – member organizations and their employees receive reduced rates.


  • A lengthy piece in the National Observer looking at Canada’s pressing challenge to build clean electrical grids draws on PPF’s Catching the Wind report on the potential of offshore wind in Atlantic Canada. “When the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing, Quebec can send its hydro-generated electricity to the Maritimes to help keep the lights on. And, when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, Maritime provinces can help meet demand in Quebec, without needing to add new, expensive hydro dams to the grid, by exporting its wind power.”
  • Fellow podcasters: PPF Fellow Ed Whittingham’s podcast, Energy vs. Climate has two new episodes out: One featuring energy economist Mark Jaccard on carbon taxes, the other looking at electricity developments in Alberta.
  • And PPF Fellow Vass Bednar launched her podcast, Lately, with The Globe and Mail, looking at the latest trends in business and tech. The latest episode examines the spate of “tragicomic layoff stories.”
  • PPF Fellow Sean Speer, writing in The Hub, considers the case for expanding the Prime Minister’s Office. “PMO policy councils, which would involve direct representation from the departments involved in multi-departmental initiatives, represent in our minds the best way to institutionalize the whole-of-government focus necessary to successfully deliver on such initiatives. For those within the ‘Ottawa bubble,’ one might think of them as something like institutionalized, permanent, and sophisticated ‘four corners meetings.’”
  • In The Washington Post, PPF Fellow Brett House comments on U.S. businesses that are downsizing, and how the trend is “being driven by a return of pre-pandemic employment levels.” And for Marketplace, he helps explain the accuracy of inflation measures.


Some highlights from PPF members that have been breaking ground and making news:

At its annual conference in Toronto, the First Nations Major Projects Coalition unveiled details around the National Indigenous Electrification Strategy. Canada’s energy grid will need to substantially increase in the coming years to meet demands, FNMPC CEO Niilo Edwards told The Canadian Press. “We found some very constructive and helpful avenues to go down to ensure, as we look to electrify Canada and the infrastructure that is required, that we can do it with full Indigenous participation.”

Indigenous consultation will also be an essential part of building up Canada’s EV supply chain, notes The Logic’s coverage of the event.

The University of Waterloo recently launched the Future Cities Institute aimed at developing healthier, more prosperous cities and solving transportation and housing shortages. The Institute was founded with a $10-million donation from Caivan Group, a developer and homebuilder. “If cities are to thrive in the future, we need objective and dynamic thinking,” write Frank Cairo and Troy van Haastrecht, co-founders and CEOs of the Caivan Group. “Housing access and affordability, the skilled labour shortage, and the changing nature of retail are just a few of the pressing issues that are upending planning orthodoxy. It’s time for a renaissance. To build resilient cities, we must resist the urge to retreat into dogmatic thinking.”

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