What follows is my 100th and final blog post in my role as Québec’s Delegate General.
When I was appointed in September 2009, the economic recession affecting much of the developed world had statistically ended. The following two years have featured some job growth, but the economic recovery has been generally anemic when compared to more recent post-recessions.
In Canada, and specifically Québec, we have recovered more than the jobs lost in the recession. This was due largely to the fact that we had no financial meltdown and no housing bubble. The situation was far more complicated in the U.S. where job recovery from the last recession hovers around the 20% mark. Unemployment is still stubbornly high.
True, the American economy has had job growth since late 2009, and it can be argued that the Obama administration prevented a depression with consequences possibly greater than the Great Depression of the 1930s. As the country enters the next presidential cycle, it is obvious that the economy will be central, and jobs, or lack of them, will be the issue.
The situation in Canada may have been less damaging, and the Canadian prospects for 2012 rank among the highest in the G7 countries. Yet, the persistence of slow growth in the U.S. and fears of a European recession are starting to be felt northward. Unemployment has slowly edged upward in the last quarter.
With elections a possibility in Québec in 2012, it is expected that jobs will also be at the forefront of the political contest there. Whatever the electoral circumstance, however, 2012 must become the year where public policies are aimed at creating wealth, and jobs become the key element in the process.
Since 2002, Québec and New York State have met regularly to explore ways to better integrate our economic activities and build common prosperity. New York State is Québec’s number one trading partner, and it exports more to Québec than to India, Italy, and Brazil all together. We share common and secure borders, we are stable democracies, and have close, integrated economic activities. The expectation is that the next Québec-New York economic summit will be concentrated on how to create jobs in both jurisdictions that are sustainable and create wealth.
Trade, innovation, technology, energy, education, infrastructure building and renovation represent the sectors where there is the most promise for building the future. Resisting protectionist measures, making our tax structure competitive, providing investment incentives, sharing expertise, and looking to ways to propel our respective economies will be essential to the next summit and should be at the heart of the exercise to build a better future together. At the end of the day, the goal is simple: create jobs.