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I'm still aspiring to a "tax problem"

Don: I would expect that as a lawyer, you already have one ;-)

In response to the many excellent arguments for staying in Canada: Yes, we have a wonderful, safe, clean, beautiful country, but I think most people opt to stay for family reasons.

As an expat, this is not the case for me. My family are still in Europe and my in-laws were left behind in Toronto when Nortel transferred me to Calgary. Hence other than immediate family and friends, I have no roots here.

Despite what some of you might think, I am not Gordon Gecko and money would not be my sole reason for going to the USA. There is something else which many others in high-tech know all too clearly: it's called opportunities.

As I am sure many of you already know, Calgary is a relatively small town when it comes to high tech companies. Nortel is the biggest fish in the sea, or more accurately, pond. I would argue that the situation is much the same in the rest of Canada, except for the Toronto-Ottawa corridor.

As one who has had a relatively successful career to date, I am always looking for greater challenges and opportunities. Since I currently have no desire to leave Nortel (options make very effective handcuffs) and the Calgary operations are shrinking, my choices in the next 1-2 years are basically limited to going back to Ottawa or heading to the USA, it's as simple as that.

Nortel's North American operations are concentrated in four key areas: Ottawa, Santa Clara, Dallas and Boston (we also have large centres in Toronto, Atlanta and North Carolina). It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that we are increasingly becoming an American company. Perhaps then, one should not be surprised to hear our CEO complain that he's constantly losing talent to the US, indeed he has also threatened to move the whole company down there if the prevailing chimps in the Canadian govt don't do something to make this country more competitive.

I personally hope that this never happens (lord help the TSE if Nortel were to delist!) but every time I go to the US I see more Nortel expansion. Case in point, I was in Dallas this week and saw that we've just finished adding three large buildings to our already sprawling Richardson campus. We're also expanding in Ottawa and a little in Montreal, but at nowhere close to the rate observed in the US.

When it comes down to it, the USA and Canada are very similar when it comes to geography, culture and many other aspects of one's daily life (but alas not weather!). As John Roth pointed out, the one huge difference is that the US govt respects its people and rewards them for working hard. The Canadian view is that the at US$40K /yr you are rich and are thus at the govt's disposal to pickpocket at whim, purely to fund a growing deficit. All this while healthcare, education, roads et al are in total disarray.

As Don pointed out, Canada is becoming a nation of paupers. I expect this trend to continue until the govt wakes up and realizes that it has to be competitive in a global economy. Resources are finite, unless we want to become a third world country, then we have to find ways to develop, attract and retain a strong industrial base and high technology sector.

That's my rant for the day :-)

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