Canadian Budget 2018, Diversity Dividend, and Social Innovations

March 2, 2018
Fayyaz Baqir
O'Brien Fellow
Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism (CHRLP), McGill university

Canadian budget 2018 choreographs a politically correct move to harvest diversity dividend by supporting inclusive initiatives for women, indigenous people, youth and immigrants. Besides being a politically correct tactic for rallying voters in the next elections it needs to be turned into investment for drawing diversity dividend both at national and international level. Global trade and economic partnerships are not only important for Canada’s own prosperity and progress but rapidly changing global circumstances require her to play a leadership role in creating a new world, inspired by equality, diversity and inclusiveness.
A strategic vision calls for allocating more resources to end domestic violence, childcare, self-governance of indigenous communities, and in depth research on social innovations and legal pluralism on the one hand and building a global economy led by the vision of peace not dictates of arms production and deployment on the other. We need to move from the reactive mode of post conflict assistance to a preemptive policy to prevent conflicts over control of resources, territories and regimes through a political discourse guided by transparency, knowledge sharing and respect for democratic norms. A prosperous and peaceful Canada can only exist in a peaceful and prosperous world.

Canada has the historic responsibility to build bridges between diverse local and foreign communities, interest groups and economies. This would entail expanding the concept of innovation from technical to social and financial innovations for tapping the bottom billion market and lifting them above the poverty line and create a climate of trust that brings an end to local conflicts feeding on the deprivation of the vulnerable and poor. It also means creating business and income opportunities for thousands of young Canadian social entrepreneurs. In view of the extremely limited achievements of Prime Minister’s hurriedly conducted visits to China and India there seems to be the need for cultivating long term strategic partnerships between the universities in Ottawa, Vancouver, Quebec and Kingston and the universities in Beijing, Delhi, Islamabad, Kabul, Dhaka and Tehran to prepare ground for long term economic partnership.

Canada needs to learn from other key players in the global economy to think and act strategically. While China is rolling out its strategic One Belt One Road (OBOR) project involving 60 countries, Canada is fumbling in search of trade partners. Investment in research and innovations therefore has a key role to play in finding ways for strategic long term engagement across the divides based on income, gender, class, race and place of origin. It depends on one crucial decision, whether budget is used as a tactical tool or a strategic investment.