MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (July, 2021)

Summer begins with a busy news week on the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Jennifer Hall and Mark Warner.  Here’s an overview of the topics we discussed:

As we weather the Summer heat, watch wildfires, and observe changing ocean levels, the topic of climate has become a daily consideration.  Advancing the target for all light-duty vehicles sold in Canada to be electric, from 2040 to 2035, raises issues beyond that of consumers.  Electric vehicles are part of a larger infrastructure, a system that includes manufacturing, charging, and maintenance, as well as the need to create a sustainable industry.  Integral to this is the ability to design vehicles that meet consumer needs well into the future; this includes all of the necessary parts, inputs, and expertise to make planning a reality.  Anyone who has an implementation background will recognize that this is not easy and requires a significant amount of effort and ability in order to achieve.  In the case of electric vehicles, the question isn’t “should we?”, but rather, “how?”.  This is a big, ongoing question that needs to be resolved in a robust and comprehensive manner.

As we greet Summer, 2021, everyone is understandably tired of living in a world of COVID19; but, here we are.  Vaccination has certainly helped to set the stage for communities opening up and returning to some form of normal, but the reality is, we are not there yet.  At the time of this writing, Canadian vaccination levels are approximately 70% (one dose) and 30% (two doses), raising the question: where is everyone?  In the US, although the double dose rate is higher (approximately 47%), it is concerning that only approximately 55% of Americans have received a single dose of a COVID19 vaccine.  It has been widely reported in the US that science and medical professionals are concerned about the percentage of Americans that will be vaccinated at all, given the relatively high degree of those who are either hesitant or resistant, making the question of what the “ceiling” could be of relevance.  Given that Canadians have worked hard to combat COVID19, for the most part, any considerations around opening the border should ensure that vaccination records of entrants can be reliably tracked; the health of our communities and economy are dependent on these types of reasonable safeguards.

And, finally, as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos moves to the Executive Chair role and other ventures, including Space exploration through Blue Origin, living in times of COVID19 is a reminder of the value and importance of online shopping and logistics.  In contrast to the delivery trucks of days gone by, the use of technology to connect with consumers is an important difference, although there is still work to do in perfecting the model.  An important component is the role of workers in this new economy, many of which lack employment security and pursue various jobs to make ends meet.  There has always been an understandable income gap between business leaders and staff members, however, the times we are living in have pushed this to extremes, with the impacts being increasingly in full view.  Further, it is disappointing that diversity was not brought to the CEO role going forward; a missed opportunity to send an impactful message to both customers and staff members.  We are at the point where important questions should be asked about the world that we want to live in, with the experience of COVID19, perhaps, contributing to the prominence of this consideration.

Thank you for watching, and see you again soon, CBC!

Jenifer Bartman
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