Speech Article from  Global Affairs Canada

Address by Minister Champagne at Converge 2017

February 6, 2017– Ottawa, Ontario

Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with the Government of Canada’s communications policy.

Thank you, Elizabeth [Cannon, Board Chair of Universities Canada and President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calgary] for that kind introduction.

Good evening, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I want to begin by thanking Universities Canada for inviting me and bringing us all together at this very timely conference.

It is a challenging and uncertain time for all nations.

We live in a world facing retrenchment and isolationist trends. 

These trends run opposite from the key ingredients our companies need to succeed. Our companies need knowledge – technology, science and research capability; they need people – diverse talent, bent on innovation; and they need connectivity – to global markets, capital, and resources.

At the same time, capital and talent are mobile and moving fast. Technology is transforming industries and reshaping the ways in which markets work.

As Cathy N. Davidson, City University of New York and Duke University professor, argues, 65 percent of children now in primary school may end up pursuing careers that have not been invented yet!

We have seen a dramatic increase in high-skilled migration flows. There were about 28 million high-skilled migrants residing in OECD countries in 2010, an increase of nearly 130 percent since 1990. Seventy percent of those high-skilled migrants choose Canada as one of their top four destinations in the OECD.

Canada must be on the leading edge of these changes and stay ahead of the curve. The need to act is urgent.

Canada, if we continue to cultivate our diversity, our openness to the world, our business-friendly environment and our talent, will have the ingredients to thrive over the next 50 years.

It is thanks to events like Converge that we are setting the foundation for our future success.      

It’s great to see so many people from across Canada gathered here to talk about what our country can and should look like when we celebrate our bicentennial year.      

The conversations taking place today and tomorrow are in line with our government’s vision for a more innovative, prosperous and inclusive Canada, and in line with our plans to create inclusive growth through our innovation and progressive trade agendas and our International Education Strategy.   

Given the current environment, it’s more important than ever for Canada to be a country that is open and engaged.

Open for business and open to highly skilled workers, researchers, entrepreneurs and international students.

Open to investment and ideas.

Open to the world outside our borders.

Open to global commerce and innovation.

As Minister of International Trade, I see myself as Canada’s “chief marketing officer” in all of these respects.

We have to work towards this goal together. 

That’s why Universities Canada is such a valuable partner in my efforts and our government’s efforts to sell Canada to the world.

With more than 1,000 clients from all levels of the educational sector in Canada, the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) plays an important role in promoting Canadian education overseas. 

In fact, more than 80 percent of Universities Canada members are clients of the TCS, including the University of Calgary, where Elizabeth is President and Vice-Chancellor.

Canada – and Canadian schools – have a lot to offer.

In an uncertain, inward-looking world, Canada is a beacon of stability, reliability and openness. This makes our country very attractive for prospective students. But we cannot rest on our laurels.

In a study cited by The Economist, Stanford’s Dr. Charles Jones found that 80 percent of income growth in the U.S. in the second half of the twentieth century was due to rising educational attainment and greater “research intensity”.

According to the OECD, much of the rise in living standards since the Industrial Revolution has been due to innovation. Of course, many elements have to come together to unlock the keys to progress and growth: knowledge creation, technology, innovation, the role of government and entrepreneurship. This said, as the OECD reminds us: “the innovative effort itself, including formal research and development, remains the sine qua non of growth”.  

To this end, we need to continually be on top of our game, because whether it’s in education or innovation, Canada is in a fierce global race.

Last year, Global Affairs Canada and the provinces and territories jointly launched the new EduCanada brand.

That brand, which we jointly manage with our provincial and territorial partners, is designed to promote the Canadian education systems and attract the best and brightest international students to Canada.

In 2015, there were more than 350,000 international students in Canada, representing a 37-percent increase since 2011. 

Our goal, under the International Education Strategy, is to increase the number of international students and researchers in Canada to more than 450,000 by 2022.

We are on track to exceed that goal.

According to an economic impact study, the international education sector accounted for $11.4 billion in service exports and supported 123,000 jobs across the country in 2014.

Our future prosperity depends in large part on international education because it plays a big role in addressing the skills and labour shortages that hurt Canada’s long-term capacity for research and innovation.

And that applies both to incoming students and researchers and to Canadians studying abroad.

I know how valuable studying, travelling and working in a foreign country can be from my own personal experience. 

I was raised in Shawinigan, Quebec, and from a young age, I always wanted to see what the world has to offer.

That dream of “going international” has guided my life and career.     

I studied law at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. 

After that, I spent 20 years working for major companies abroad, in cities like London, Zurich and Genoa.      
Now I’m proud to have the opportunity to use all the experience I gained overseas in my new role as Canada’s Minister of International Trade.       

I encourage the young people in this room to consider looking beyond our borders for opportunities to live, work and study abroad.

For Canadian youth between the ages of 18 and 35, one of the best options to do so is a program called International Experience Canada.

Through international experience, youth can learn new skills and languages, and make connections that can lead to amazing and unexpected careers, ground-breaking research and innovation and lucrative business endeavours.            

In short, it puts you on the path to success as a leader of tomorrow.

I am proud to work closely with my colleague Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, to deliver on our vision to make Canada a global centre for innovation.   

Our mission is to promote clean growth, create quality jobs, and raise living standards for the middle class and those working hard to join it. 

We need to encourage more Canadians to start and grow companies into globally competitive success stories – like Shopify, headquartered on Elgin Street just steps away from here.

Through the Going Global Innovation and Canadian International Innovation programs, Canada’s trade commissioners offer funding and expertise to help Canadian companies do just that.

Since April 1, 2016, these programs have supported more than 80 Canadian innovators to build, test and launch new technologies in 31 countries around the world.

Through the Trade Commissioner Service, we also offer a wonderful initiative called the Canadian Technology Accelerators.      

It’s a great initiative that has already helped more than 300 SMEs here in Canada raise more than $350 million over the last three years – and create more than 1,300 jobs.     

Our business success in markets abroad – and trade in general – is essential for Canada.

Trade has helped build this country into a top 10 global economy, with the world’s 38th-largest population.       

We know that trade raises living standards and increases prosperity.

We also know that trade helps companies grow – and when companies grow and succeed, they create new jobs.     

That is why our government is proud to be playing a leading role as a global champion of open societies and free and open trade.    

At the same time, we are working hard to build bridges with Canada’s friends and partners to counter rising protectionist anti-trade sentiment.

This means Canada’s actions must be informed by consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, including SMEs, women-owned businesses and Indigenous peoples and northern communities.

Progressive trade is also about prioritizing strong provisions in trade agreements in areas such as labour, the environment and gender equality.

It’s about reinforcing the continued right of governments to regulate in the public interest.

In short, it’s about making sure that trade agreements work for businesses and citizens alike and that the benefits of a more open global trading environment are more widely shared.

At a time of great turbulence, this will help to generate much-needed jobs and growth for the middle class – and those working hard to join it.

These are just a few of the ways our government is working with young Canadians, with universities, with businesses and with our international partners to help build an innovative, prosperous and inclusive Canada today and over the next 50 years.

I thank all of you for participating in this conference!


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