Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his keynote address at the World Economic Forum Wednesday to try to rebrand Canada, saying his Conservative predecessor wanted the world to know the country for its resources–but he wants people to know Canadians for their resourcefulness.
It was a message that earned a smile from Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, proud of resource-rich Alberta.
“I might not have used that same language that the prime minister used today,” Nenshi said in Davos.
“I would say Canada is ‘resources plus.’ But it’s certainly the case that market access is an issue being discussed in every corner of this place. It is important, because not only do we have to get the energy to tidewater, we’ve got to have someone on the other end who wants to buy it. And the kind of work that we’re doing here is important for that.”
Trudeau said Canada’s natural resources remain an important part of the economy — even as a slide in oil prices delivers an economic punch to provinces like Alberta — but he pointed out the country’s growth doesn’t depend on what lies underground.
But Nenshi suggested Canada is still a “resource-based economy.”
“Our biggest export is still energy, and I do not see a path where that does not continue to be the case,” Nenshi said. “So clearly we need to do what we can on market access.”
WATCH: The shift from resources to resourcefulness, as the Prime Minister said, isn’t sitting well with many Albertans, especially as oil prices remain low. Quinn Ohler reports.
Nenshi suggested the two most likely pipeline projects to move forward are in Canada: TransMountain and Energy East. He said he heard Chinese officials at the forum saying China is “overcapacity in energy” but added the country’s government is focused on improving air quality due to the use of coal power.
“They need cleaner energy and that cleaner energy should come from Canada. And this is really a chance to do it, but we have to have some courage and just do it.
“The national energy boards should come down with a decision in May on TransMountain, and I would urge the federal government to not delay and to move forward with that project quickly.”
In his speech, Trudeau framed Canada as a safe place to invest amid global economic uncertainty, and told the forum that governments need to spend rather than pursue austerity measures.
He said Canada understands that the fourth industrial revolution will not be successful unless it creates real opportunity for the billions who weren’t able to join world leaders in Davos this week.
With files from The Canadian Press