Thursday, January 27, 2011

Aboriginal People in Canada Getting into Clean Energy Business

As part of a an ongoing profile of unique business opportunities in Canada I came across this story.

In this age where virtually every country is looking for cleaner sources of energy Aboriginal organizations are getting involved in the clean energy business in Canada. Canada like other countries in the world are discovering that run-of-river hydro projects can offer more than clean energy and they also have the potential to generate significant, long-term economic benefits for the country’s Aboriginal people.

As the push to develop more clean energy has increased, independent power producers are approaching individual First Nations in Canada on a regular basis with proposals for small hydro development. Under Canadian law, most Aboriginal peoples have certain rights with regard to resource development on their traditional territories.
Aboriginal corporations that provide business financing and support services to First Nations in British Columbia and the Tribal Resource Investment Corporation (TRICORP) and the Tale'awtxw Aboriginal Capital Corporation are taking a major stake in various projects throughout Canada. They also created the First Nation
Regeneration Fund specifically to provide financing to enable First Nations to purchase equity positions in power projects.

“Run-of-river hydro power generation is one area where First Nations clearly have a competitive advantage,” says Peter Lantin, TRICORP’s Chief Operating Officer. “Our traditional territories, especially on the coast, have an abundance of clean energy. In fact, the first project we are helping to finance is a two-megawatt run-of-river hydro project owned by the Taku River Tlingit First Nation near Atlin in northern British Columbia.”

With $2 million from each of the Aboriginal corporations, and a $3 million contribution from Canada’s Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, the First Nation Regeneration Fund now has a total endowment of $7 million. It’s administered by Ecotrust Canada Capital, a subsidiary of Ecotrust Canada.
Loans made available through the Regeneration Fund are repaid by the First Nation through dividends and royalties from the run-of-river power project and possibly other sources. Once the loan is repaid, the dividends and royalties become long-term discretionary income that can be used by First Nations for economic or social development.

“The Regeneration Fund is going to provide access to much needed capital for First Nations,” says Sandy Wong, General Manager of the Tale’awtxw Aboriginal Capital Corporation. “It will help First Nations finance equity in independent power projects in British Columbia, and grow Aboriginal ownership in this critical sector of our economy. At the same time, these green energy projects are a natural fit with the social and cultural principles we support.”

It is these types of unique partnerships that are helping to position Canada and it various group as leaders in the area of sustainable development and growth in the area of developing the clean energy business.

Kensel Tracy is The Marketing Coach and is a Senior Partner in the Corporate Coachworkz located in Chelsea, Quebec and offices in Ottawa Ontario.. If you have a unique story on business in Canada, he can be reached at

Monday, January 10, 2011

Canadian Federation of Independent Business Launches Red Tape Awareness Week

In an interesting twist this month, the Canadian Federation of Business, ( CFIB) launched a new campaign to cut red tape in regards to how business deals with government. With the strength of over 107,000 small business owners from coast-to-coast the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is the big voice for small businesses. For over 35 years, it has represented the interests of the small business community to all three levels of government in their fight for tax fairness, reasonable labour laws and reduction of regulatory paper burden.

So what is red tape exactly? According to the CFIB, it’s a combination of things. Sometimes it’s dumb rules that don’t accomplish what they intend to accomplish. Sometimes it’s complicated forms or language, permit delays or getting different interpretations about the rules from government.

How big is the problem? Thee CFIB says that if you ask any business owner, they’ll tell you a red tape story. Some problems are small; some threaten or have closed businesses. Around 60 per cent of business owners say that it affects their productivity, their ability to innovate and to be competitive in global markets. There’s a huge opportunity here for Canada to get serious about this issue, and have a competitive advantage.

Why should the public care? The CFIB estimates that regulation costs Canadian businesses over $30-billion a year. Reducing red tape translates into more job opportunities, higher wages, lower prices, higher tax revenues and less stress for business owners and their families. The CFIB says that first step toward meaningful change is to make sure the public knows about it and understands that this is a huge hidden tax that frustrates entrepreneurship. The general public might encounter red tape occasionally with renovating a home or getting a passport, but business owners encounter red tape day in and day out being in compliance with business regulations with three levels of government. The CFIB also wanted to give business owners a sense of hope that things can change. Many business owners often feel no one is listening to them or that there’s nowhere to tell their stories and get action.

So who in Canada is the biggest red tape offender? Many say Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), who is responsible for monitoring the collection of taxes. The CRA has made every business a tax collector (unpaid it should be noted) as small business is responsible for collecting and remitting the taxes at both the employee and customer level. In some cases this becomes a Red Tape nightmare. CRA also represents the federal government . But provincial and municipal governments can make life miserable and threaten business, too.

The CFIB differentiates red tape from necessary rules and regulations. Business owners say that red tape could easily be reduced by 25 per cent without harming any of the legitimate health and safety objectives of regulations. That’s the equivalent of a $7.5-billion annual stimulus package for business.

Here are some great Red Tape examples. Duplication is a huge problem for businesses. Often the level of government isn’t aware of the duplication, and sometimes the duplication has conflicting rules. That type of issue can be extremely frustrating.

So what can governments do?The CFIB says it’s pretty simple. They want government to set targets for reducing red tape. They want them to measure and be publicly accountable for those targets. Once those targets have been met, they want them to keep measuring and being publicly accountable and to set a ‘zero increase' target to control red tape going into the future.

The CFIB also wants the CRA to introduce a taxpayer fairness code, to use more tax-friendly language and to give taxpayers the right to get information in writing. They want this for all large and small companies or individuals should be able to call and ask for advice, be able to get that in writing, and then have that written advice respected even if it’s wrong.

Another factor is accessibility. Many CFIB members get busy signals, are put on hold or get disconnected. For example, once the CFIB called the CRA on a member’s behalf, and was disconnected after 17 minutes on hold, then when they called back, got a different answer the second time, asked again where if they could see the issue in writing on the Web site, got put on hold again, this time for 26 minutes, and then were disconnected. The third time they called back, the CFIB rep asked to speak to a manager. The person on the other end of the phone said we couldn’t speak to a manager and wouldn’t give them any identifying information, and said if we left their information, someone would call them back tomorrow. A perfect example of more Red Tape.

What can business do? Business should also contact their Member of Parliament, their local municipal politicians or provincial counterparts and tell them you need more help in cutting out Red Tape.

If this was business and we gave our customers the same type of Red Tape problems you know they would shop somewhere else. Unfortunately governments at all levels have monopolies and they are not customer centric. In that case they can give us all the Red Tape we can handle. For most Canadian businesses we want less Red Tape and better environment to make money.

Want to get involved in Red Tape Awareness Week, check out
Kensel Tracy is the Marketing Coach with the Corporate Coachworkz Inc. with offices located in Ottawa and Chelsea, Quebec. He is also the President of Business Over Breakfast Clubs of North America. If you have a story of interest, he can be contacted at