2010 marked the beginning of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Canada was among the first nations to join the OECD, indeed, the very first to present its instruments of ratification in April of 1961. To commemorate this occasion the Public Policy Forum, in partnership with the Canadian delegation to the OECD and the Secretary-General of the Organisation, embarked on a project to explore the history of the Canada-OECD relationship, and to discuss where this relationship will take us in the future.

The OECD brings together countries committed to democracy and the market economy in order to provide an open forum and source of expertise to support economic growth and enhanced co-operation. For 50 years Canada has been a leading member of the OECD; we have both benefited from and contributed to the organisation’s mission. Yet, on this 50th anniversary Canada, the OECD and the global economy find themselves in an era of pronounced change. The global economic effects of the recent recession have impacted greatly upon the fiscal standing of the states which comprise the OECD. While Canada fared the recession well, there is always potential to improve our fundamental drivers of economic growth.

Global economic co-operation reached new levels during the economic downturn, and there is reason to believe that such partnerships were essential in staving off a deeper crisis. Bearing this in mind, Canada must continue its commitment to multi-lateral international partnerships, and the OECD is the premier forum in which to do so.

The relationship between Canada and the OECD is not limited to pure economic considerations; indeed, it is closely linked to numerous policy areas in which international leadership and co-operation are necessary to deliver the best results. Over the next 50 years innovation, green policy, social and educational policy, and engagement with emerging economies will redefine the international landscape. Canada is poised to lead in many of these areas, and we have great anticipation for the fruitful work that will be done through the OECD.

Throughout this conference, participants expressed a desire to strengthen and enhance co-operation. It was a pleasure for Canada’s Public Policy Forum to convene such an esteemed group of international leaders for this event, and we look forward to continuing to work together as the frameworks for the next 50 years of policy development take shape.

A special note of appreciation is due to Paul-Henri Lapointe, Canada’s Former Ambassador to the OECD, for his counsel related to the convening of this signature event.

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