A Con­ver­sa­tion on In­no­va­tion With Navdeep Bains

In­no­va­tion Min­is­ter Navdeep Bains sat down with Pol­icy Editor L. Ian Mac­Don­ald on April 23 for a wide-rang­ing Q&A touch­ing on the Trudeau gov­ern­ment’s five des­ig­nated su­per­clus­ters, ad­vanc­ing women in busi­ness, on­line pri­vacy and other is­sues.

Policy - - In This Issue - Q&A / L. Ian Mac­Don­ald

Pol­icy: Min­is­ter, thank you for do­ing this. We want to talk off the top about the su­per­clus­ters and the progress that’s been made to date. Is it fair to say you’re still in the start­ing gate but, you know, ready to go?

Navdeep Bains: Ab­so­lutely, it was a very com­pet­i­tive process. This is a key part of our gov­ern­ment’s In­no­va­tion and Skills Plan. Su­per­clus­ters are very im­por­tant. We used our power to con­vene, to bring in­dus­try, academia and civil so­ci­ety to­gether. Es­sen­tially, the key out­come is re­ally about jobs and growth and we’re re­ally ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity go­ing for­ward. We

had over 50 dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tions or sub­mis­sions to the su­per­clus­ters ini­tia­tive. We ul­ti­mately de­cided on five. We wanted to avoid giv­ing a lit­tle bit of money to many dif­fer­ent projects and in­stead, fo­cus on the most am­bi­tious, bold ini­tia­tives so we selected five.

Pol­icy: One per re­gion?

Navdeep Bains: Well, it worked out that way but as you know in­no­va­tion hap­pens ev­ery­where across the country and if you look at the five selected su­per­clus­ters as well, it re­ally re­flects two key di­men­sions. One is the in­flu­ence of ecosys­tems and plat­forms and also play­ing to our strengths. The ocean or agri­cul­ture, for ex­am­ple. Our country is blessed with nat­u­ral re­sources, so the ques­tion is how do we lever­age these strengths and how do we make sure that these sec­tors of our econ­omy are also part of our fu­ture eco­nomic growth.

Pol­icy: What about the role of the pri­vate sec­tor in this and the match­ing funds, $950 mil­lion from the pri­vate sec­tor, $950 mil­lion from the gov­ern­ment and you talked about it in your state­ment in Fe­bru­ary at the launch of $50 bil­lion of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity be­ing gen­er­ated over ten years. Are you com­fort­able with that num­ber?

Navdeep Bains: This is busi­ness led. This is what makes this ini­tia­tive dif­fer­ent. It’s not about gov­ern­ment pre­scrib­ing the sec­tors or the tech­nolo­gies or the in­dus­tries. This is about busi­nesses de­ter­min­ing where the growth is and go­ing out there and build­ing partnerships and they did that in a mean­ing­ful way. We had 450 to­tal busi­nesses par­tic­i­pate. Over 300 small busi­nesses were part of this ini­tia­tive as well 60 aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions. Clearly, one of the as­pects of this ini­tia­tive was to make sure that, at min­i­mum, the pri­vate sec­tor match dol­lar for dol­lar the in­vest­ment that we are mak­ing, and they ex­ceeded that amount and I think when it is busi­ness led and they are con­tribut­ing more than they ex­pected that demon­strates, ini­tially the suc­cess of this ini­tia­tive. Pol­icy: Can we talk about the five re­gional su­per­clus­ters? First of all, the At­lantic, we have a piece from Matt Hebb, who has quite a strik­ing statis­tic that only one per­cent of Canada’s econ­omy is linked to ocean ac­tiv­ity. Here we have the largest Arc­tic space in the world, the largest ocean space in the world and only one per­cent of our econ­omy is linked to the oceans.

Navdeep Bains: Enor­mous po­ten­tial and that’s why we think that if you cre­ate a plat­form, an ecosys­tem that can ben­e­fit ship­build­ing, oil and gas, re­new­able en­ergy, aqua­cul­ture. There’s just so much po­ten­tial with the ocean su­per­clus­ter. What was also very in­ter­est­ing to see is that all four At­lantic prov­inces came to­gether. Rather than mak­ing in­di­vid­ual bids they de­ter­mined that if they came to­gether as a re­gion to re­ally lever­age the ocean and the po­ten­tial that ex­isted there, they would have a stronger ap­pli­ca­tion, and they did.

What is also re­ally ex­cit­ing is that a lot of small busi­nesses are in­volved. As I men­tioned, a to­tal of 450 busi­nesses are in­volved in the su­per­clus­ters ini­tia­tive but 300 of them are small busi­nesses. The suc­cess of a lot of these ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing the ocean su­per­clus­ter, is about strength­en­ing that sup­ply chain. It’s about how can large, big firms help small firms scale and grow. How can they help them with re­search and de­vel­op­ment? How can they help them with tech­nol­ogy adop­tion? How can they make their pro­cesses more seam­less?

And, again, how can they con­nect to global sup­ply chains? That is a key part be­cause as part of our In­no­va­tion and Skills Plan we are fo­cus­ing on skills, tal­ent and peo­ple, train­ing, re­train­ing and life long learn­ing. Tech­nol­ogy adop­tion’s an­other key as­pect but both of those are re­ally driven to­wards help­ing com­pa­nies scale and grow. That’s one of the key out­comes from the su­per­clus­ter ini­tia­tive.

Pol­icy: Quebec and the AI, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence hub in Mon­treal, which is al­ready quite im­pres­sive and the al­liance be­tween the Uni­ver­sity of Mon­treal and McGill is quite some­thing. Navdeep Bains: And Water­loo as well. I was there at the Uni­ver­sity of Water­loo when they in­tro­duced their Water­loo AI In­sti­tute. It’s im­por­tant to note that we have over 500 com­pa­nies in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence in Canada. If you look at the po­ten­tial, ac­cord­ing to PwC, AI will ac­tu­ally rep­re­sent over $157 tril­lion of eco­nomic growth and op­por­tu­ni­ties or part of our econ­omy by 2030. So, it’s all about how can we re­duce in­ven­tory, en­hance the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, help in­te­grate our sup­ply chains. Those are some of the key as­pects we looked at through­out the se­lec­tion process. Not only did they have am­bi­tion but they saw a real growth area and they demon­strated mean­ing­ful tech­nol­ogy de­ploy­ment through ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence as a cross plat­form that would im­pact so many dif­fer­ent as­pects of our econ­omy. For in­stance, re­tail, man­u­fac­tur­ing, agri­cul­ture, etc.

Pol­icy: And On­tario and the Toron­toWater­loo cor­ri­dor.

Navdeep Bains: So ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing re­ally stepped up in a big way. Ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing, par­tic­u­larly 3D print­ing for ex­am­ple, was a big play. I think it’s a demon­stra­tion that these tech­nolo­gies are com­ing and they are im­pact­ing so many dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries. When con­fronted with this re­al­ity, we must ask our­selves how do we com­pete? How do we add value? How do we com­pete with other ju­ris­dic­tions that are also bet­ting on in­no­va­tion and sim­i­lar tech­nolo­gies? What was re­ally in­ter­est­ing about the ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing su­per­clus­ter ini­tia­tive is their fo­cus on train­ing and skills. Be­cause as you know, in our bud­get, we fo­cused on in­no­va­tion and skills train­ing. You can’t have in­no­va­tion if you don’t have skills, if you don’t have the peo­ple, the tech­nol­ogy, the know how, the cre­ativ­ity. With the ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing ini­tia­tive, they re­ally stepped up in a big way on knowl­edge trans­fer, on train­ing and re­train­ing be­cause as ro­bot­ics are in­vested, as they in­vest in 3D print­ing, they need to re-skill, they need to re­de­ploy re­sources to make sure the

We’ve done re­ally well when it comes to ven­ture capital in Canada. We had a record num­ber last year—$3.2 bil­lion in VC fund­ing—but we need to make sure that we also cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for women, so there was a spe­cial carve-out of $50 mil­lion for wom­en­led busi­nesses and other busi­nesses that, in the past, tra­di­tion­ally got over­looked.

skills and labour force re­flect the new op­por­tu­ni­ties that will emerge.

Pol­icy: And the Prairie cor­ri­dor?

Navdeep Bains: That one is re­ally look­ing at how to add value to pro­teins through canola and pulses. Again, play­ing to our strengths. Peo­ple rec­og­nize that China and In­dia are grow­ing economies, with vi­brant grow­ing middle classes.

Pol­icy: Huge cus­tomers.

Navdeep Bains: Huge cus­tomers, es­pe­cially when it comes to their daily diet. They want to con­sume more and more pro­tein. So again, the ques­tion is how can we add value? How can we make sure that we are able to take ad­van­tage of these emerg­ing economies where there is enor­mous eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity and mar­ket ac­cess. Us­ing ge­nomics as well as IT to re­ally add value to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties. Again, this demon­strates in­no­va­tion isn’t about the lat­est iPhone, it’s not about the lat­est tech­nol­ogy. It’s about in­dus­tries like agri­cul­ture, for in­stance, that are very in­no­va­tive and they, again, demon­strate a great deal of am­bi­tion which po­si­tions Canada well in the global econ­omy.

Pol­icy: And fi­nally, B.C. and the tech cor­ri­dor?

Navdeep Bains: So, this is a big data play. The ap­pli­cants looked at data an­a­lyt­ics and fo­cused on quan­tum tech­nol­ogy as well through D-Wave for in­stance, and that’s a very im­por­tant com­pany ini­tia­tive as well. They looked at how they can use data and big data and data an­a­lyt­ics to in­no­vate, in the nat­u­ral re­source sec­tors, so of course forestry is an ex­am­ple of that, but also in pre­ci­sion health. Again, what’s in­ter­est­ing about these su­per­clus­ters is they go be­yond one sec­tor or one in­dus­try. It’s about these plat­forms that pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for co-de­vel­op­ment. If you look at all the su­per­clus­ters, there are some com­mon themes and one of the ar­eas that we as a gov­ern­ment fo­cused on was in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty. The lat­est bud­get fur­ther demon­strates our com­mit­ment to science and re­search.

We do well in pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional re­source to our aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions. Though we need to do a bet­ter job of tak­ing that re­search and com­mer­cial­iz­ing it. And when we do com­mer­cial­ize and gen­er­ate the IP we have to make sure Cana­di­ans ben­e­fit from that IP. For the first time in the his­tory of Canada, we now have a na­tional IP strat­egy. As these su­per­clus­ters grow, as these tech­nolo­gies emerge, as these ecosys­tems strengthen, the IP that is gen­er­ated will ben­e­fit Cana­di­ans. The IP strat­egy we just an­nounced will help Cana­dian com­pa­nies ad­dress some of the key re­cur­rent is­sues IP ex­perts and in­dus­try stake­hold­ers have been fac­ing over the last decades. In the knowl­edge econ­omy, IP is more im­por­tant than ever be­fore. If you look at the S&P 500, 84 per cent of their com­pa­nies are linked to IP. Their as­sets. 84 per cent of their as­sets are linked to IP. If you look at the top 50 TSX com­pa­nies only 40 per cent of their as­sets are linked to IP. Clearly, when you look at our U.S. peers, for in­stance, we need to a bet­ter job in this new knowl­edge econ­omy.

Pol­icy: One of the things that is quite strik­ing is the em­pha­sis on fe­male en­trepreneurs in the bud­get and for ex­am­ple $1.65 bil­lion to women busi­ness lead­ers or start ups over three years through the BDC and EDC. Can you dis­cuss that?

Navdeep Bains: I’m an ac­coun­tant so num­bers mat­ter and we had, as you may re­call, when we formed gov­ern­ment, we had our man­date let­ters made pub­lic and from those man­date let­ters we also came for­ward with met­rics. Key tar­gets that we wanted to achieve. One of the tar­gets was that we wanted to dou­ble the num­ber of ma­jor­ity woman-owned busi­nesses to 340,000 busi­nesses by 2025. One of the key ar­eas that we looked at where there was a gap in our abil­ity to achieve that tar­get was fi­nanc­ing for woman en­trepreneurs. So, in­vest­ing $1.65 bil­lion would deal with that gap around fi­nanc­ing. Specif­i­cally tai­lored and tar­geted to women owned busi­nesses to help us achieve that tar­get. This com­ple­ments an­other pro­gram called the Ven­ture Capital Cat­a­lyst Ini­tia­tive. We’ve done re­ally well when it comes to ven­ture capital in Canada. We had a record num­ber last year—$3.2 bil­lion in VC fund­ing—but we need to make sure that we also cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for women, so there was a spe­cial carve-out of $50 mil­lion for women-led busi­nesses and other busi­nesses that, in the past, tra­di­tion­ally got over­looked. This isn’t only about busi­nesses in tra­di­tional ur­ban cen­tres, but also in our ru­ral re­mote com­mu­ni­ties as well. So, again, we are be­ing very clear: in­no­va­tion has to ben­e­fit the many, not just the few.

Pol­icy: There’s also $105 mil­lion over five years to re­dress bar­ri­ers to women start-ups.

Navdeep Bains: Cor­rect. If you look at the start-up cul­ture in Canada, we do re­ally well at start­ing up busi­nesses and again if you look at the data there are many op­por­tu­ni­ties not pre­sented to women en­trepreneurs and there are a range of sys­temic bar­ri­ers that ex­ist. We want to make sure we pro­vide the ad­di­tional re­sources to help the star­tups in Canada be­cause it is not only

the start-ups that we’re fo­cused on but how do we help them scale up and be­come global cham­pi­ons That’s re­ally been the fo­cus of our gov­ern­ment. If you look at our In­no­va­tions and Skills plan, we con­sulted Cana­di­ans, we specif­i­cally con­sulted busi­nesses across the country and we came to the de­ter­mi­na­tion that this is go­ing to be a multi-year ef­fort. One of the key out­comes is our abil­ity to be­come a scaleup na­tion, rather than just a start-up na­tion. We will con­tinue to sup­port the start-ups, specif­i­cally women, but over­all, we want to make sure we help com­pa­nies scale up. We’ve pre­sented, for in­stance, a pro­cure­ment pro­gram, In­no­va­tion So­lu­tions Canada. The idea is that us­ing gov­ern­ment as a mar­quee cus­tomer Cana­dian start-ups will be able to val­i­date their prod­ucts and ser­vices so when they go abroad they can say they have done busi­ness with the Gov­ern­ment of Canada and that opens up more op­por­tu­ni­ties for them to scale up and grow in new mar­kets. We’ve also pro­vided op­por­tu­ni­ties for ru­ral and re­mote com­mu­ni­ties. Our Con­nect to In­no­vate pro­gram is a very good ex­am­ple of that. In this day and age, high speed in­ter­net is no longer a lux­ury, it’s es­sen­tial. High speed in­ter­net and broad­band con­nec­tiv­ity in ru­ral and re­mote com­mu­ni­ties is es­sen­tial for busi­nesses. Not only to start but scale up as well and get ac­cess to global mar­kets. As I men­tioned, in­no­va­tion hap­pens ev­ery­where, so if we want our busi­nesses to suc­ceed and grow, wher­ever they are based in Canada, we need to en­sure that all Cana­di­ans can ac­cess the ba­sic tech­no­log­i­cal tools they need in the 21st cen­tury econ­omy. And then, of course, on skills I think it is re­ally es­sen­tial to note that we’ve brought for­ward the Can Code Ini­tia­tive. This is about cod­ing for one mil­lion kids and teach­ers over the next two years, again a fo­cus on young girls and Indige­nous peo­ple.

Pol­icy: Also, that 15 per cent of small and medium-sized busi­nesses do­ing busi­ness with the gov­ern­ment would be led by women.

Navdeep Bains: We be­lieve that num­ber can def­i­nitely in­crease. We be­lieve that gov­ern­ment as a mar­quee cus­tomer can re­ally cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for these busi­nesses to be­come more ex­port ori­ented, be­come more in­no­va­tive and that’s what we’ve done with the In­no­va­tions So­lu­tions Canada pro­gram. We would help with the proof of con­cept, we’d help with the pro­to­type, we’d help them with over­all pro­cure­ment and it’s good for gov­ern­ment as well be­cause it in­jects in­no­va­tive ideas and so­lu­tions to help us ad­dress chal­lenges and is­sues that we’re fac­ing within gov­ern­ment. It makes us more nim­ble, bet­ter po­si­tioned to serve our con­stituents, at the same time it al­lows us to use gov­ern­ment re­sources to strate­gi­cally in­vest in Cana­dian start-ups and Cana­dian busi­nesses, women led busi­nesses, for them to be able to suc­ceed not only within Canada but glob­ally as well.

Pol­icy: In terms of gen­der equity in busi­nesses, is it help­ful, and I think it ob­vi­ously it is, that you’ve named Jan­ice Fukakusa of Royal Bank as the Chair of the In­fra­struc­ture Bank.

Navdeep Bains: I think if you look at the gov­er­nance struc­ture for the su­per­clus­ters we’ve ac­tu­ally been very clear about pre­scrib­ing two ar­eas. One is they need to have a very clear gen­der strat­egy. The Prime Min­is­ter led by ex­am­ple when he cre­ated the first gen­der bal­anced cab­i­net and we want to see lead­er­ship through the gov­er­nance struc­ture with the su­per­clus­ters with a gen­der equal­ity and di­ver­sity strat­egy. Not only at the board level but at the em­ploy­ment and de­ployed funds lev­els as well. These two are con­sis­tent with the leg­is­la­tion that just passed on Thurs­day, Bill C-25. This Bill C-25 is about pro­mot­ing di­ver­sity on cor­po­rate boards. Cor­po­rate boards must now have a di­ver­sity pol­icy and if they don’t it is a com­ply or ex­plain model, they must to ex­plain to share­hold­ers why they don’t have a di­ver­sity pol­icy or why they didn’t reach the ob­jec­tives out­lined in their strat­egy. If you look at the UK ex­am­ple or if you look at the Australia ex­am­ple, this will ac­tu­ally in­crease the num­ber of women on boards sig­nif­i­cantly. Right now, in Canada, only four­teen per­cent of board mem­bers are women and that must change. We can do bet­ter.

Pol­icy: There’s $4 bil­lion over five years in the bud­get on R&D and Science. That’s in your depart­ment.

Navdeep Bains: In­no­va­tion, Science and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment. As an ac­tivist gov­ern­ment we’ve been very clear: they’re all linked. Science is about the long term. We need to make sure we make sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ments in science.

If you look at Canada’s suc­cess in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. It’s at­trib­uted to suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments and here I give credit to the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment as well, about mak­ing in­vest­ments in that spe­cific area. If we want to see Canada com­pete glob­ally, and we are in a global in­no­va­tion race, we’re com­pet­ing with China that’s fo­cused on mass in­no­va­tion. We’re com­pet­ing with In­dia that’s fo­cused on dig­i­tal cities, for in­stance, then we need to be strate­gic about fo­cus­ing on re­search where we can be the leader in break­through tech­nol­ogy where we can de­velop ar­eas of ex­per­tise. This com­ple­ments the over­all brand of Canada as well. The fact that we not only value di­ver­sity but we are gen­uinely open to peo­ple. The global skills strat­egy is the best ex­am­ple of that. This is also part of our In­no­va­tion and Skills Plan. This par­tic­u­lar pro­gram al­lows Cana­dian aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions and Cana­dian busi­nesses to bring some­one with high in de­mand skills to Canada in a mat­ter of two weeks. This is re­ally a game changer. We in­tro­duced this pro­gram last June and thou­sands of com­pa­nies and aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions have ap­plied and we’ve is­sued many, many visas. This clearly has helped Canada, again, reap the ben­e­fits of those in­vest­ments that we are mak­ing in science. It helps us trans­late that science and com­mer­cial­ize that into good IP and it al­lows those IP com­pa­nies to suc­ceed be­cause, go­ing back to IP very quickly, IP-in­ten­sive firms on av­er­age pay 16 per cent more than their coun­ter­parts when it comes to wages, they

are more ex­port ori­ented and they cre­ate more jobs. At the core of that is re­ally our in­vest­ment in is­sues like cod­ing but global skills as well and science is re­ally crit­i­cal to that. That’s why that $4 bil­lion in­vest­ment was im­por­tant and of that $4 bil­lion in­vest­ment in science $1.2 bil­lion was for the grant­ing coun­cils. That pro­vides pre­dictable fund­ing over the next five years for us to play a lead­er­ship role on cut­ting-edge re­search.

In light of what has hap­pened in the U.S., in light of what has hap­pened with Brexit, for in­stance, that’s re­ally demon­strated that Canada is in a unique po­si­tion. We value peo­ple.

Pol­icy: There was a piece re­cently from MaRS in Toronto—a sur­vey of tech firms. Fifty-three per cent saw an in­crease in in­ter­na­tional job ap­pli­ca­tions since 2017 over 2016 be­cause of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies on im­mi­gra­tion. The top choices for re­lo­ca­tion out­side the U.S. were: Canada 32 per cent; the UK six per cent; France five per cent. This seems like a huge op­por­tu­nity for us.

Navdeep Bains: Enor­mous op­por­tu­nity. We were mind­ful of this be­fore the U.S. elec­tions and we sent a clear signal when the port­fo­lio was changed from In­dus­try Canada to In­no­va­tion, Science and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment. Our Prime Min­is­ter was very clear about his com­mit­ment to di­ver­sity and mak­ing sure that we pro­mote bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties for women in en­trepreneur­ship. If you look at our In­no­va­tion and Skills Plan, it re­ally sets in mo­tion the fact that Canada was gen­uinely open for trade, in­vest­ment and peo­ple. In light of what has hap­pened in the U.S., in light of what has hap­pened with Brexit, for in­stance, that’s re­ally demon­strated that Canada is in a unique po­si­tion. We value peo­ple. We un­der­stand that we don’t have a mo­nop­oly on good ideas. For our com­pa­nies to suc­ceed and grow and be glob­ally com­pet­i­tive we need to gen­uinely be open. We ob­vi­ously are mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ments in our do­mes­tic pipe­line through skills and train­ing and cod­ing and re­train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion and life­long learn­ing. Mak­ing big bets on science, fo­cussing on in­no­va­tion and that’s re­ally helped strength­en­ing Canada’s value propo­si­tion and that’s why you are see­ing many peo­ple that want to come and study here and work here and ul­ti­mately stay here and raise their fam­i­lies, which is re­ally im­por­tant to us be­cause we are a country of 35 mil­lion peo­ple and we need im­mi­gra­tion if we want to main­tain and en­hance our qual­ity of life. Not to men­tion that in a glob­al­ized econ­omy, our busi­nesses di­rectly ben­e­fit from hav­ing a di­ver­sity of cul­tures, lan­guages and per­spec­tives around the table.

Pol­icy: What’s your feel­ing, as the in­no­va­tion min­is­ter, of this Face­book story? Are you wor­ried about it? Eighty-eight mil­lion peo­ple had their iden­ti­ties com­pro­mised.

Navdeep Bains: We have to be very vig­i­lant. We have to rec­og­nize that in the new knowl­edge economies, es­pe­cially in the new dig­i­tal econ­omy, data is a re­ally im­por­tant raw ma­te­rial and the pro­tec­tion and pri­vacy of data, in­di­vid­u­als’ data is crit­i­cal. That is why we brought for­ward changes to PIPEDA, the Per­sonal In­for­ma­tion Pro­tec­tion and Elec­tronic Doc­u­ments Act, in terms of mak­ing sure that if any­one’s per­sonal data that was ei­ther stolen or lost must be im­me­di­ately no­ti­fied by the busi­ness or the busi­ness en­tity. If com­pa­nies fail to do so and fail to tell the pri­vacy com­mis­sioner, they will be sub­jected to a $100,000 fine per in­frac­tion. So, we’re tak­ing con­crete steps to fur­ther pro­tect Cana­di­ans’ right to pri­vacy. We’re also work­ing on a data strat­egy. As I men­tioned, when we think of our In­no­va­tion and Skills Plan and we look at all the dif­fer­ent poli­cies and pro­grams, some of the foun­da­tional pieces are in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty and our up­com­ing data strat­egy and we’re work­ing on both of these ini­tia­tives. Both in terms of the eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties it un­locks and to help un­der­stand the im­por­tance of data and how we can be more com­pet­i­tive but also un­der­stand­ing the pri­vacy and eth­i­cal con­cerns must be taken very se­ri­ously. To an­swer your ques­tion, as in­no­va­tion min­is­ter, I’m very mind­ful of the chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties and some of the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties we have around data and data pro­tec­tion, but at the same time we have two choices; ei­ther we de­fend the sta­tus quo or we rec­og­nize that, if we look at ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence for ex­am­ple, data is so es­sen­tial, how do we get ahead of the curve and set the rules and put in place poli­cies that al­low us to com­pete and grow and suc­ceed in this global in­no­va­tion race and at the same time not com­pro­mise peo­ple’s per­sonal data and in­for­ma­tion. We can ei­ther re­sist the tech­no­log­i­cal changes we are fac­ing or we can em­bar­rass them. As the Min­is­ter of In­no­va­tion. I’m pos­i­tive that Cana­di­ans have what it takes to meet the chal­lenges and seize the op­por­tu­ni­ties as­so­ci­ated with what some re­fer to as the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion.

Pol­icy: I must say on a per­sonal note as a jour­nal­ist I worry about Face­book be­ing an ag­gre­ga­tor and a dis­trib­u­tor rather than a news desk.

Navdeep Bains: Well, they said they are a plat­form and this is some­thing they have to rec­og­nize. They have a re­spon­si­bil­ity and they are much more than a plat­form. So, they have a re­spon­si­bil­ity with re­gards to is­sues around fake news. They have re­spon­si­bil­i­ties around pro­tec­tion of peo­ple’s data and they need to step up in a big way.

Pol­icy photo

In­no­va­tion Min­is­ter Navdeep Bains in con­ver­sa­tion with Pol­icy Editor L. Ian Mac­Don­ald at his Cen­tre Block of­fice on April 23.

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