timeeurope.com

TIME Europe Home
  Europe
  Middle East
  Africa
  World
  Digital Europe
  Business
  Travel & Arts
  Photo Essays
  TIME Trails
  Magazine
  Archive
  Fast Forward

Special Features
  Fast Forward
  Forecast 2001
  E-Europe
Search TIME Europe
 
Subscribe to TIME
Subscriber Services
About Us

TIME Daily
TIME Asia
TIME Canada
TIME Pacific
TIME Digital
Latest CNN News

FREE NEWSLETTER!
Sign up now for TIME's WorldWatch email newsletter.
[ preview ]

 


[an error occurred while processing this directive]



TIME EUROPE
December 25, 2000, Vol. 156 No. 26


NEWSMAKERS of 2000
John Roth
By STEPHEN HANDELMAN

Canada's government suddenly woke up this year to the competitive challenges of the high-tech world. Finance Minister Paul Martin put forward a mini-budget in March that offered tax cuts and incentives to spur entrepreneurship and keep Canada's high-tech talent at home. And the Liberals began pouring money into research and development, as well as other support for Canada's under-funded institutions of higher learning. The moves were obviously intended to steal thunder from Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day and win a third election term. But in a deeper sense, the change marked the triumph of ideas forcefully argued by the most successful businessman in modern Canadian history: Nortel Networks ceo John Roth, 58.

Roth has been a nagging presence all year for Canada's decision makers, warning that the country risked becoming a second-rank economic power unless it changed its wealth-crimping tax policies and supported high-tech winners. He put his credibility behind the notion of a "brain drain" caused by high income and capital gains levies, and argued for better tax treatment of stock options to encourage entrepreneurship. "Policies and business strategies that worked well in the industrial era are a recipe for stagnation and decline in the new economy," he declared in a speech in April. Roth warned repeatedly that Nortel's Canadian workforce of 25,000 — now just 30% of its worldwide staff — would drop even more unless Canada encouraged homegrown talent to stay.

Roth has replaced the traditional rota of banking ceos as the spokesman for the commanding heights of the private sector. The former engineer has become a corporate superstar since he took over Nortel in 1997 and transformed it from a successful telecommunications equipment supplier into a $120 billion Internet powerhouse that operates in 150 countries and challenges Cisco Systems for world supremacy. At times during the year Nortel seemed to be the entire Canadian economy, accounting for as much as 36% of the value of the tse 300. On the way back down, Nortel was also a leader: an Oct. 25 sell-off of its shares sent the tse plummeting 840 points. Characteristically, Roth used the roller-coaster ride to argue that Nortel's dominance reflects a failed industrial policy that shelters enterprises from global competition. "We desperately need to create a culture of winners," he declared.

Roth has put his money where his mouth is. Nortel spent millions this year upgrading science education at schools around the country, and Roth serves as co-chairman of the E-Business Opportunities Roundtable, a public/private initiative that promotes high-tech entrepreneurship. In January, the group called for e-commerce tax breaks and federal support for an enlarged venture capital market.

And Roth intends to keep pushing Ottawa to meet future challenges. "If I were in government I'd be conducting exit interviews of all the Nortel execs to find out why they leave Canada," he says. So long as Roth keeps speaking out, the feds don't have to.

— With reporting by Leigh Anne Williams/Toronto

This edition's table of contents
TIME Europe home


More stories from TIME Europe and related links

E-mail us at mail@timeatlantic.com

Like what you're reading?
Click here to try 4 FREE ISSUES of TIME






More Stories

COVER STORY: TIME'S MAN OF THE YEAR
Person of the Year: George W. Bush
The presidency is his after the Supreme Court ends the fight for Florida's electoral votes, but the Texas Governor knows he still must earn the accompanying honor

Exclusive Q & A
Frank talk about his priorities, race, wrong ideas about him, and Al

Viewpoint: The American Paradox
What the world can expect from the new, relatively unworldly President

TIME's Person of the Year special
Full coverage of TIME's Man of the Year from the U.S. edition

RUNNERS UP
J.K. Rowling: A Universe in Her Hand
Her wizardry turned on a new generation to that old technology, the wondrous printed word

J. Craig Venter: Cracking the Code of Life
The bad boy of science has jump-started a biological revolution

NEWSMAKERS 2000
Vojislav Kostunica
Right man at the right time

Mohammed Al-Durra
Totem of the intifadeh

Robert Mugabe
Last of the post-colonial nationalists

Kim Jong Il
The hermit who came in from the cold

Vincente Fox Quesada
Coca-Cola revolutionary

Cathy Freeman
The millennial symbol of a nation

George Speight
Fiji's would-be strongman

John Roth
Nortel's high-flying CEO

EUROPE
The E.U.'s Nice Try
A treaty that just clears the bar

Q & A
Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium, small states' fighter

DEPARTMENTS
Tech Watch

World Watch

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
E-mail us at mail@timeatlantic.com

Copyright © 2001 Time Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
E-mail us:  Letter to the Editor | Customer Service
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Press Releases