Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Paul Martin Speaks on Canada's Natives

“It's the greatest social problem of our time.” That's how former Prime Minister Paul Martin described the plight of Canada's aboriginal community, speaking on Wednesday at the Canadian Responsible Investment Conference in Montreal.

“We have engaged in actions that are beyond belief and we continue to do so,” Martin said. “We're making it impossible for them [aboriginals] to succeed.”

To that end, Martin pointed to his own initiative, the $50 million CAPE fund, set up to invest in aboriginal communities. “We want to create a class of aboriginal entrepreneurs.”

Martin noted that the private sector can assist in such ventures, but government should help out.“Tax incentives are required because the major return is a social return.”

Martin discussed a few other issues during a hour-long interview with Gary Hawton, the president of Oceanrock Investments and the incoming president of the Social Investment Organization. (Hawton was also the winner of the 2012 SRI Distinguished Service Award):

Paul Martin on the Oil sands: “The oil sands are a huge economic asset but they have to operate in an environmentally sustainable way.”

Europe: “The Europeans are cutting when everyone else is. It's driving their economy into the ground.”

“You need institutions to make the euro work. Europe won't come through this crisis unless they focus on a political union.”

The Occupy movement: “If things continue as they are, we're going to have some huge issues.”

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