Trudeau Pitches Canada: Any Hope of a Buyer?

trudeauSince coming into power, Prime Minister Trudeau has been going on a global door-to-door campaign selling Canada to the world. Trudeau is laying the pitch on thick given the skepticism surrounding both a resource economy that is suffering from low oil prices and massive deficit spending in his debut federal budget. The hot-shot PM is hitting foreign investors from all angles. On the right, he is touting Canada’s transition from a resource-based economy to an intellectual powerhouse. On the left Trudeau is championing his deficit spending as a show of optimism and confidence in the future. As a final blow, Trudeau is championing to investors abroad that the future involves innovation from Canada in sustainable energy production

Trudeau has taken every opportunity to sell Canada to the world. In January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland he started on his path of trying to change the perception of Canada from a resource economy to a ‘resourceful’ economy. More directly, the PM has been courting tech companies around the world trying to encourage massive investment from the powerhouse tech sector into Canada. Trudeau even took the time in the run-up to the recent Nuclear Summit in Washington, DC to talk at the US Chamber of Commerce highlighting his sustainable energy plans, his openness to free trade, and – yet again – the optimism his deficit spending shows in the future of the Canadian economy. 

We know his pitch, but is anybody actually buying it?

Domestically, critics in the federal government are skeptical of the PM’s assessment that Canada will be able to move beyond a resource producing economy. His critics want the PM to stop running away from the resource sector, arguing that it is a cyclical sector and it will rebound, ‘it always does.’ An argument that amounts to: ‘Sit on your hands and wait.’ Putting aside the fact that the Liberal government acknowledges the need for oil jobs, if Canada operated in a vacuum and was only capable of being a one-trick pony, this is not a terrible argument. Unfortunately, the reality is far more complex. Canada can’t be afraid to diversify its economy, and attempt to position itself to attract investment in sectors that are not typically thought of as Canadian.

When this observer first saw Trudeau laying out his pitch for Canada, skepticism any big investors would bite was high. With oil prices approaching some of the lowest lows in recent history and Canada’s loonie losing a lot of ground, Trudeau’s confidence came off as more obligatory than earnest. However, his most recent pitch at the US Chamber of Commerce, with big cats from Google, Coca-Cola, Ford, General Electric, and others in attendance, the PM’s consistency in message coupled with a well-timed economic development has provided cause for serious optimism. As oil has seemingly – but not without high risk of further erosion– stabilized, Canada’s new GDP numbers showed the biggest month-to-month growth in three years in all sectors. 

The Federal government seems most focused on finding investment in sustainable energy and the tech sector. It seems investment in green infrastructure will have to come from the budget deficit first before any outside investors will be overly convinced that the risks are worth swallowing. The tech sector seems to be where Trudeau has the best chance for his hard work to pay dividends. With recent investment from tech giant Google in Waterloo-based tech companies, Trudeau has been sucking up to the big players. While there is some concern of his insistence to entertain tech giants, there is optimism that the Canadian economy, with the right incentives, could go the way of Ireland in this sector and attract large investment. 

Currently, the biggest investment has come from federal government in the form of massive deficit spending. But, as Trudeau has said over and over again, confident countries invest. Initially there was little chance anyone was being convinced by this, but recent developments provide hope buyers may open up their checkbooks. 

While this remains relatively wishful thinking, it’s certainly refreshing for a PM to move away from trying to backtrack to what the ‘golden days of old’ brought to Canada, and focus rather on how to effectively transition to a new economy. 

Nathan Seef (4 Posts)

Nathan Seef is Associate Managing Editor of Freedom Observatory. Nathan earned a Master of International Criminology with Merit from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Criminology from York University in Toronto, Canada. He specializes in transitional organized crime and environmental harms. Nathan has given several guest lectures on green criminology and is passionate about finding ways to reduce the negative impacts of mass production. He has strong interests in issues of global governance, international law, and international affairs. Nathan is also an Associate Editor at iAffairs Canada, an online publication affiliated with the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.


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