Canada open for business, investment: Trudeau
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.