Canada 300 BC and the Passing of Dr. Adam Chowaniec: Developing the Knowledge Economy

At first, I assumed the invitation from Canada 300 was spam. It said I had been nominated as one of only 25 community leaders in Vancouver to participate in an in-depth, national conversation on the future of Canada. But then I received an email confirming it was legitimate. And the National Post published an article by Tamara Sestanj on it. So, intrigued (as I remain), I reviewed the documentation.

Through an innovative use of arts and technology, we want to capture the promise of what Canada will be seven generations from now.

The artistic Canada 300 project wants some input: where should Canada be in 150 years from its upcoming 150-year anniversary (1867+150=2017; +150=2167).

One of things I think I felt, in response to this invitation, is critical for Canada, and that we can’t wait many years to achieve, is to shift from our economic dependence on primary resources (dirty oil, etc.) to smart resources and services. By this I mean the production of knowledge-based, clean resources, knowledge and technology. Germany and Britain, as I understand it, have been accumulating patents in alternative energy. This would have been and should be natural for Canada. Canada needs to make up for lost time. There is a huge economic opportunity here in growing our economy while shrinking our environmental/ecological footprint, and spreading the wealth.

By some strange coincidence, the day that I formulated some of my ideas about Canada 300, and after Dr. Adam Chowaniec died, I mentioned him in passing in a blog post. The double coincidence here is that Adam Chowaniec promoted this vision for Canada. Steve Proctor of ITAC wrote yesterday:

[Adam Chowaniec] held a fierce belief that Canada could and should effectively transition from a resource based economy to a knowledge based economy and lead globally. He was tireless in his pursuit of this vision.

Adam was president of Tundra Semiconductor (a Newbridge Networks affiliate) where I worked in the 1990s. The last time I met him was in late 1997. He was in Vancouver for Tundra business (I was the only Tundra employee in Vancouver.) He kindly invited me to a meeting with the COO of PMC-Sierra (another fabless semiconductor company). Then he took me out for dinner at Horizon’s. It was very generous of him to invite a junior employee to these events. Adam’s passion, and that of other employees in the Newbridge Networks ecosystem (e.g., Abatis Systems Corp.), for high-tech inspired me to serve the needs of knowledge workers (IT and other disciplines). And that is a large part of what CogZest is about. (Helping people use knowledge to become more effective.)

I will no doubt have more to say about Canada 300 in the future. But for now, with Adam’s passing, let’s reflect on the fact that knowledge and technology have liberated us but also endangered us. We cannot escape technology. Canada will need to more vigorously and wisely develop knowledge and technology in order to do its part in promoting the perpetual well-being of humanity.

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Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity . Cognitive productivity consultant and public speaker. Adjunct Professor of Education & Adjunct Professor of Cognitive Science, Simon Fraser University Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. See About Me for more information.

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