Trudeau looks to lure ta­lent

PM pitches ex­pand­ing tech sec­tor in Canada

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - Business -

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau ar­rived Thurs­day in sunny Cal­i­for­nia, armed with a Cana­dian sales pitch aimed at at­tract­ing Sil­i­con Val­ley ta­lent and in­vest­ment cap­i­tal.

Trudeau is shop­ping an ex­pand­ing tech sec­tor in places like Toronto and Kitch­en­er­wa­ter­loo, where com­pa­nies need ex­ec­u­tive-level ex­per­tise to stay com­pet­i­tive. Canada has also in­vested mil­lions to at­tract top ta­lent and re­searchers away from other coun­tries.

Dur­ing his lunch-hour meet­ing with a roundtable of tech ex­ec­u­tives from com­pa­nies like AIRBNB, Eventbrite, Google, Paypal, and Pin­ter­est, Trudeau said com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ments must con­sider how tech­no­log­i­cal dis­rup­tion af­fects tra­di­tional jobs.

“The con­ver­sa­tions we’re hav­ing about how you do things right — how you think about the pos­i­tive im­pact, long-term, of the choices that we make — is core to the kinds of con­ver­sa­tions we have to be hav­ing whether we’re in gov­ern­ment, or in busi­ness,” Trudeau said.

Two years ago when Trudeau took of­fice, Cana­dian ex­pats who were veter­ans of Sil­i­con Val­ley talked about the dif­fi­cult sell their home coun­try faced. In Cal­i­for­nia, salaries, sun­shine and ven­ture cap­i­tal are all abun­dant, the pro­fes­sional cul­ture more ad­vanced, they said. How­ever, they also spoke long­ingly about bring­ing that cul­ture back home to cre­ate the same kind of suc­cess in Canada that they ex­pe­ri­enced in Cal­i­for­nia.

Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­dency has made the pitch a lit­tle eas­ier: all the tough talk about trade deals and im­mi­gra­tion has changed the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate in the United States.

“The po­lit­i­cal cli­mate has ob­vi­ously made Canada more at­trac­tive be­cause we’re more di­verse, we’re more wel­com­ing and we’re more open,” said Lekan Ola­woye, who leads the ven­ture ta­lent de­vel­op­ment di­vi­sion at the MARS Dis­cov­ery District in Toronto.

Com­pa­nies like Mi­crosoft and Ama­zon have in­vested in staff in Canada to get around the Amer­i­can visa quo­tas for over­seas work­ers, said Chris Sands, Di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Cana­dian Stud­ies at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity in Bal­ti­more.

In a pa­per pub­lished last month co-au­thored by Ola­woye, MARS re­searchers sug­gested Canada re­think its pitch to top tech ta­lent. In­stead of pro­mot­ing it­self as a place to set­tle, com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ments needed to sell the virtues of re­gions and cities.

Trudeau is likely to do just that when he sits down face-to­face with Jeff Be­zos, Ama­zon’s top ex­ec­u­tive, as his com­pany de­cides whether to make Toronto home to a sec­ond head­quar­ters.

Ryan Remiorz/the Cana­dian Press

Em­ploy­ees grab self­ies with Prime Min­is­ter Justin trudeau as he leaves the of­fices of Sales­force in San Fran­cisco on thurs­day.

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