More entrepreneurs needed, says Manley
Chamber of Commerce hears familiar plea for self-starters
by Nancy Gardiner
NNSL (Apr 16/97) - John Manley's message was clear and recognizable: "We have to release the entrepreneurial energy of Canada."
The federal minister of industry's call came last weekend, just a few days after a similar plea from NWT Premier Don Morin.
"No one's going to wave a magic wand to create 1,000 or 2,000 jobs in the territories. It's up to the people to do it," Morin said earlier this month, noting private industry will have to do more for job creation.
Manley was addressing a weekend chamber leaders' luncheon in Yellowknife. Joining him was Western Arctic MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew and about 40 invited business people from across the territories.
Manley said he was impressed with several young entrepreneurs who discussed their success stories earlier in the day.
The newly elected NWT Chamber of Commerce president, David Connelly of Inuvik, said afterward that he supports the government's position.
"We believe entrepreneurs are an engine of our economy and one of the means of increasing job creation," Connelly said.
Connelly said Manley's speech at the Saturday luncheon was "very in tune with the issues of small- and medium-sized business. And his recognition of the role of communications technology and entrepreneurial training was very suited to the circumstances we face across the territories."
Manley said there are 2.3 million small businesses in Canada. There are also 1.5 million Canadians unemployed and a skilled labor shortage.
Recognizing how times are changing, he said people can no longer count on going to college or university, working, then retiring with fully-indexed pensions.
"The world is changing," said Manley. And entrepreneurs, he emphasized, will have a role to play in Canada's future.
When Manley opened the floor for questions, he was asked about "government over-regulation and over-interference" by Fred Leonardis, a Yellowknife businessman and past president of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce.
Manley said he has discussed this topic with other chambers of commerce and people who have views on small business across the country.
He said they gave him many suggestions including: bring down the deficit, decrease taxes and the paper burden, give small businesses assistance with access to capital and help with finding new markets.
Manley also explained that some paperwork has been modified.
The Records of Employment required by government "have been drastically simplified," he said.
The ROE booklet itself, which used to entail 35 pages of explanation, has shrunk to just four pages.
Revenue Canada remittances can in some instances now be submitted quarterly rather than on a monthly basis for certain small businesses that meet the requirements and other forms have been made more straightforward.
"But each of these is a little sliver," says Manley.
Norman Wells' Kevin Diebold, NWT businessman of the year, raised other concerns with Manley.
"We truly believe we need a road system. It would just open everything up -- to resources in offshoots such as diamonds and oil," Diebold said. He also mentioned tourism, suggesting an extension of the Mackenzie Valley Highway as an updated version of former prime minister John Diefenbaker's idea of a road to Northern resources.
Ethel Blondin-Andrew interjected that it's a much talked about subject.
Discussion about a road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk, a road to Coppermine and roads to the BHP diamond mine has surfaced recently, but there's no proposal in the works right now.
"We don't have a platform and I don't want to make promises," Blondin-Andrew said. She did say, however, that she wants to see "people who have an interest in the North to invest in a highway."