January 20, 2016 6:04 pm
Updated: January 21, 2016 9:54 am

Analysis: Will Trudeau’s pitch that Canada is open for business work?

WATCH ABOVE: A day after Canada's Prime Minister was given a sobering economic forecast from some world leaders, Justin Trudeau remained optimistic, meeting with more business and international leaders on the second day of the World Economic Forum. Vassy Kapelos reports.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used a keynote address on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum to make the pitch Canada is open for business.

“If you are looking for a country that has the diversity, the resilience, the positivity and the confidence that will not just manage this change but take advantage of it, there has never been a better time to look to Canada,” he told the audience of roughly 400.

So will the sales job work?

WATCH: Trudeau trying to convince investors Canada is a safe place for their money

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Trudeau’s pitch included a distinct attempt to re-brand the Canadian economy as more than oil, using the word “diversity” nine times in the 10-minute speech.

READ MORE: Anxiety in the air as Davos World Economic Forum kicks off

“My predecessor wanted you to know Canada for its resources,” he said. “I want you to know Canadians for our resourcefulness.”

Trudeau’s words immediately drew a response from Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi who said he wouldn’t have used the same language.

“We are still a resource based economy and I do not see a path where that does not continue to be the case,” he told reporters.

WATCH: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi defends Alberta’s resources after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s speech at Davos

But among the crowd gathered in Davos, Nenshi might be among a minority.

Trudeau’s attendance at the forum is drawing international media attention. The New York Times calls the Prime Minister a “big name” at Davos and an Australian daily says he’s a “rock star.”

That “rock star” reputation likely helped Trudeau land meetings with some of the world’s most powerful executives. On Wednesday that included Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and billionaire George Soros.

On Thursday the Prime Minister will meet with General Motors CEO Mary Barra and the president of the Swiss Confederation among others.

Former Liberal cabinet minister Brian Tobin is at the Forum on behalf of BMO Capital Markets and insists Trudeau’s “star power” is helping sell Canada as a great place to invest.

“Probably the greatest amount of excitement being generated by anyone of the visiting leaders is by Justin Trudeau,” he said. “We have a new, young, dynamic prime minister and a real opportunity to re-brand Canada in all its diversity at this meeting.”

But communications expert Allan Bonner isn’t as sure Trudeau’s profile at Davos will translate into more business investment in Canada.

“Happiness and sunny ways and positivity are great and they may even have an effect on the economy,” Bonner told Global News. “I bet Ronald Reagan had an effect on the economy, I bet Jean Chrétien may have; but, it’s a multi-step hypothesis, it doesn’t instantly translate.”

“It’s very good that he has that kind of international public persona … my position is let’s leverage that and turn it into economic activity back here at home.”

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