The theme was innovation – from defining it to debating government policy on how best to encourage it – at a special policy panel held May 15, 2017 at the Elgin Street headquarters of Shopify.

Harley Finkelstein, Chief Operating Officer, Shopify, traced the development of the Canadian e-commerce company that develops computer software for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. “With 400,000 stores in 175 countries, our goal is to create more entrepreneurs,” said Finkelstein.

Sean Silcoff, Globe and Mail Business Reporter and author of Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, asked panelists what the government should be doing.

Janet Bannister, General Partner, Real Ventures and founder of Kijiji, called the focus on AI (Artificial Intelligence) ‘terrific’ but added that she was seeing entrepreneurs getting money with no long term viability.

According to Daniel Debow, co-founder of, Rypple, Workbrain, Creative Destruction Lab, and 2015 Canadian Angel Investor of the Year, “the most powerful thing that this government has done is talk about innovation.”

Tony Bailetti, Director, Technology Innovation Management Program, and Associate Professor, Sprott School of Business and the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering, Carleton University, agreed with Harley Finkelstein’s comments that government is now asking “how can we be most helpful” instead of forcing a government agenda.  But stock option taxation and immigration policy allowing companies to hire skilled foreign workers continue to be priority issues to help Canadian tech companies grow.

Members of Parliament and staffers joined Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other senior diplomats, business and non-governmental organizations plus Carleton students and faculty at the event.

Dr. Malcolm Butler, Dean of the Faculty of Science, offered closing remarks.

This event was organized with thanks to Dan Ruimy, M.P., Chair of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology; Diane Finley, M.P., Official Opposition Critic for Innovation, Science and Economic Development; and Brian Masse, M.P., NDP Critic for Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

A summary of the discussion prepared by Tiernan Fary is available here.

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