Canada open for busi­ness, in­vest­ment: Trudeau

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Canada’s new Trudeau-era econ­omy will be as much about brain power as it is fos­sil fu­els, the prime min­is­ter told a high-pow­ered eco­nomic fo­rum Wed­nes­day as he set out to re­brand the coun­try on the world stage.

Justin Trudeau’s key­note ad­dress at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos was clearly meant to dif­fer­en­ti­ate him from pre­de­ces­sor Stephen Harper, who of­ten used the meet­ing to tout Canada as a re­source pow­er­house.

Canada’s nat­u­ral re­sources re­main a vi­tal part of the econ­omy — even as slid­ing oil prices take their toll on re­gions like Al­berta — but there’s more go­ing on north of the 49th par­al­lel than just hew­ing wood and draw­ing wa­ter, said Trudeau.

“My pre­de­ces­sor wanted you to know Canada for its re­sources,” he said. “I want you to know Cana­di­ans for our re­source­ful­ness.”

Trudeau pointed to the suc­cess of Univer­sity of Water­loo grad­u­ates in Sil­i­con Val­ley and the school’s eclec­tic stu­dent pop­u­la­tion, call­ing di­ver­sity “the en­gine of in­ven­tion.”

And he framed Canada as a safe place to in­vest amid global eco­nomic un­cer­tainty.

“We have a di­verse and cre­ative pop­u­la­tion, out­stand­ing education and health care sys­tems, and ad­vanced in­fra­struc­ture,” he said. “We have so­cial sta­bil­ity, fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity and a govern­ment will­ing to in­vest in the fu­ture.”

That mes­sage was re­peated in meet­ings with some of the big­gest busi­nesses ex­ec­u­tives of the con­fer­ence, in­clud­ing Mi­crosoft CEO Natya Nadella, Face­book COO Sh­eryl Sand­berg. In an evening meet­ing with bil­lion­aire Ge­orge Soros, the 85-year-old said he wasn’t stressed about the Cana­dian econ­omy, but played down Trudeau’s op­ti­mism for the global econ­omy, in­clud­ing Europe. But not ev­ery­one was con­vinced. Back home, NDP Leader Tom Mul­cair said he wanted to see more ac­tions from the govern­ment rather than sim­ply telling the world that “Canada is back.”

Cana­di­ans, Mul­cair said, know the coun­try is in tough eco­nomic times, “fam­i­lies are suf­fer­ing, there’s in­creas­ing in­come in­equal­ity in our coun­try. We’ve got to start deal­ing with that.”

In Davos, Cal­gary Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi said he wouldn’t have used the same lan­guage as Trudeau when look­ing at the fu­ture of the Cana­dian econ­omy.

He called Canada’s econ­omy “re­sour­ce­plus.”

“We are a re­source econ­omy. Our big­gest ex­port is still en­ergy and I do not see a path where that does not con­tinue to be the case,” he said.

For­mer Lib­eral cab­i­net min­is­ter Brian Tobin, who was in Davos as vice-chair­man of BMO Cap­i­tal Mar­kets, said the coun­try didn’t need to “run away” from the re­source sec­tor.

Com­modi­ties, he said, are cycli­cal and their value will re­bound.

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