November 16, 2016
UBS European Conference, London, England

Canada’s Chosen Path: Investment and Openness

Speech by the Honourable Bill Morneau, PC, MP

Check against delivery

I’m happy to be here with you today – it’s great to be back in London, a city in which I’ve had the privilege to live, work, play and study over the years.

I was back at LSE yesterday meeting with an impressive bunch of students, whose insights, ambition and promise never cease to amaze me.

The next generation really gets it.

They know what needs to be done.

It’s up to us to leave them the tools and the opportunities to succeed.

If we can manage that, the future will be bright indeed.

That’s part of what I want to talk to you about today.

It’s been just over one year since I became Canada’s Finance Minister.

And what a year it’s been!

All around the world we’ve had a few surprises along the way.

The world’s attention has been focused on the fact that many of our citizens haven’t seen the benefits of the tremendous economic growth we’ve achieved together over the last several decades.

The soft underbelly of the world economy has revealed itself in expected and unexpected ways.

Hard work doesn’t always equal progress anymore.

A fundamental promise has been broken.

It’s what Canadians asked us to fix when they elected a young energetic leader in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a year ago.

And the anxiety and disenchantment it breeds has fueled some of the powerful movements the world has been witnessing.

Our global challenge is no longer generating growth for growth’s sake, but rather ensuring that the benefits of that growth are shared.

It’s the only path forward.

The question we are faced with is how best to meet this challenge?

In Canada, we believe that trade and global partnerships are the keys to our future success.

That’s why we are focused on investment and openness as we position ourselves in the global economy of tomorrow.

We have a lot to offer.

We are a welcoming nation that draws strength from our diversity.

We have one of the highest potentials for growth among G7 countries.

We have proven our resilience and stability through the global financial crisis and the recent downturn in commodity prices.

We are one of only twelve countries with triple-A ratings from all three ratings agencies.

Our financial system is among the world’s soundest, and we are home to global-scale pension funds.

We also have the lowest total business tax costs in the G7, and the lowest overall business costs in the G7.

Importantly, we enjoy a deep, interconnected economic relationship with the United States.

Nearly nine million American jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada, and 35 states list Canada as their number one export destination.

Another 13 list us in their top three.

As each other’s largest single trading partner, our interwoven supply chains play a role in the quality of life of our citizens and of families on both sides of the border.

This unique friendship, combined with strong trade relationships like the one we enjoy with the United Kingdom and progressive trade agreements like the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), are the foundation on which we will continue to build our global presence.

As part of our plan to create jobs and strengthen our communities, we are actively seeking to attract investment.

That’s where you come in.

Earlier this week in Toronto, Prime Minister Trudeau, cabinet colleagues, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, and I made our pitch to the BlackRock Long-term Investor Summit.

Now, I’ve come to London to tell you Canada’s story, and tell you why you should invest in our future.

It won’t surprise you to hear me say that Canada is a fantastic destination for international investors.

Companies, when they look around the world for investment opportunities, see the educated workforce in Canada, our resources and our political stability as a huge positive.

Already this year, we’ve seen Thomson Reuters announce plans to create a new technology centre in Canada, and move its CEO and CFO from Connecticut to Toronto.

And GM, GE and Microsoft are all making investments in Canada.

Just two weeks ago I delivered our Government’s Fall Economic Statement – a “Mini-budget” of sorts – that laid the groundwork for better jobs, access to global talent and even more investment.

First, we are implementing a Global Skills Strategy to give Canadian companies faster and more predictable access to global top talent.

This will give start-ups and high-growth companies access to specific skills at specific moments in time, allowing them to grow and thrive at home.

Second, we are setting up a new Invest in Canada Hub and hiring more trade commissioners abroad to make Canada top of mind for you as you make decisions.

This is based on the fact that investors have told us they don’t hear Canada’s good news story often enough.

The Hub will be up and running by the end of 2017 and will operate globally.

And we’ll also make sure our legislative framework accommodates investment, making it clearer just how we can work together to create jobs and opportunities for everyone.

We are also doing more of what confident, ambitious countries do.

We are investing in ourselves with over C$180 billion dedicated to infrastructure over the next 12 years.

Through a focus on public transit, green and social infrastructure, as well as transportation infrastructure that supports trade, these investments will create jobs, provide cleaner air and water, and foster thriving communities.

And we want to attract even more investments to allow more projects to get underway.

We are a country with enormous infrastructure needs, and low political risk.

You’ve told us that you want to invest, but need specific conditions to exist.

You need a pipeline of large, worthwhile projects.

You need the ability to implement those projects with confidence.

You need a counterparty to contract with that provides stability and predictability beyond election cycles.

You need a partner with expertise and financial acumen that will help mitigate execution risk.

The new C$35 billion Canada Infrastructure Bank answers those calls.

Through this new Bank, we want to work with you to create opportunities that are big and transformational so that we can create thousands of jobs and attract as much as $4 to $5 in private capital for every tax dollar invested.

Through the promotion of an ambitious economic agenda that puts people first, and with initiatives ranging from the Canada Infrastructure Bank, our desire to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, to moving forward on CETA, we are sending the world a clear message that Canada is not only open to the world, we are here to play.

In fact, we’re here to lead.

Next year, we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of our confederation.

We are coming of age at a time when the world is undergoing one of its most fundamental transformations.

By putting people first and embracing our diversity and openness, we are bringing confidence and optimism back to Canada’s middle class, supporting thriving communities, and creating conditions for shared economic growth fueled by hope and hard work.

This is the future that Canada is committed to building.

We’ve taken important first steps.

And I truly hope you will join us in taking the next ones.

Thank you.