Napoleon Bonaparte, the clever bugger that he was, once proclaimed that “the human race is governed by its imagination, not crude oil.”

Actually, I made up the “crude oil” part, but at this very moment, I am sitting in a Starbucks in the heart of Alberta, surrounded by pick-up trucks, rednecks and the general sense that we are walking headlong into an impending apocalypse.  So, the “crude oil” extension, as blasphemous as it might be, is a monumentally important extension. 

A knowledge based economy

Monumentally important, why?  Well, because at this moment in history, there is a seismic shift happening from a resource based economy to a knowledge based economy. 

World-changing innovations are being created at the speed of sound in the start-up community—many of which are destroying century old business models and creating enough wealth for the Silicon Valley elite to actually consider sharing it. 


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The sharing economy has provided a ubiquitous platform for collaborative consumption and block chain has provided a very plausible technology framework for economic equalization and wealth redistribution.  All of these things are being built by the brightest DevOps minds on the planet right now—not on Wallstreet, not in the bowels of a Saudi Arabian Oil Cartel and certainly not in a public sector think tank. 

"Why is it that in the last decade only three technology companies have been created in Canada that are currently valuated at over $1 billion?"

This seismic shift is a universal one and is something that goes will beyond a quietly applauded revenge of the nerds.  Uber disrupting the taxi industry, Netflix destroying the cable industry, BitGold declaring war on Wall Street, and Elon Musk nipping at the heels of the old-fashioned man.

But, is anyone in Alberta or Canadian politics actually paying attention?  We’ve all been fed lip service about “economic diversification” for years when it is widely known that every political decision in Canada is brought by unoriginal men in Calgary downtown skyscrapers. 

And, in the meantime, while the rednecks cry in their Tim Horton’s coffee cups about another pinch to “our kid” Brent Crude, our smartest Canadian friends with the brightest ideas and biggest bank accounts pack their bags and buy a one way ticket to San Francisco Bay and join the party.  

Why is it that in the last decade only three technology companies have been created in Canada that are currently valuated at over $1 billion?  Is it for a lack of talent, lack of smarts, lack of infrastructure? Or is it something much more sinister?

Why are we scared?    

Apathy, conservatism and risk adversity are the Canadian ways.  And they aren’t going to work anymore. We need more disruptive and empathetic leadership in the Canadian Government and in the Canadian enterprise. 

We need to demand the creation of a viable and sustainable knowledge economy in the next federal and provincial elections.  We need to stop crashing in the same car.

The Canadian oil and gas industry and our very way of living are about to be unpleasantly disrupted.  Don’t believe me?  Ask your regional taxi union if they are losing sleep over a welcoming knock from Uber.

On December 1, Robert Brennan Hart launched the successor to the Canadian Cloud Council — Politik — a global media organization focused on chaos, disruption, and movement in the world of technology. Politik’s “Interzone” will be held in Banff in March 2015 and Los Angeles in October 2015. Robert Herjavec is a featured keynote at Interzone.