We have all seen these headlines before, so it’s not so under the radar for us. But the New York Times just published this article about Toronto calling it a “quietly booming tech town.” Depending on how you want to measure things, Toronto is now the third largest tech hub in North America after Silicon Valley and New York City (or at least that’s what the NY Times is telling me). The article touches on some of the ingredients for this success, but let me be a bit more explicit in this post because I think it is particularly relevant right now.
Canada is a “Western” country. What does that mean? It means that we’re a democracy, we have the rule of law, we respect individuals (including private property), and we allow for pluralism of opinion, along with many other freedoms. These are all wonderful and magical things that are sometimes taken for granted. But I couldn’t imagine living in a place that doesn’t allow for such freedoms, nor would I want to.
On top of this foundation, we have two other important ingredients: extraordinary universities, like the ones mentioned in the article (University of Toronto and University of Waterloo), and some of the most liberal immigration policies in the world. Our borders are open for the smartest and most ambitious. With just these handful of things — freedom, rules, education, and talent — we can screw up a lot of other stuff and still accomplish some pretty great things. I may be oversimplifying, but probably not by much.
Humans are wonderfully talented. Let people be and they’ll show you. Because history has shown us time and time again that the above recipe works remarkably well. (Related post: Do the best cities have a lot of immigrants?)