We live in a world of rapid, intense and unpredictable innovation. The country, and particularly Western Canada, faces a serious dilemma. Rapid innovation will challenge governments and society at large while introducing major disruptions. Without constant and even accelerated innovation, however, our core economic sectors could suffer several economic dislocations. The oil and gas sector in Alberta is an excellent example of this process. How does Canada innovate in order to remain globally competitive without undercutting the social and economic commitments that have supported national prosperity and stability? This presentation lays out, in stark terms, the challenges Western Canada faces and discusses some of the core organizational, institutional and political options available to Western Canadian decision-makers in the age of constant disruption.
Ken Coates is Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan. His work focuses on the development of strategies to promote 21st century well-being in small town, rural, Indigenous and remote Canada. Ken’s major project examines the potential contributions — and negative impacts — of emerging technologies on rural and remote communities.