TORONTO – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began a day-long pitch Monday to some of the world’s most powerful institutional investors, urging them to invest in Canada, and specifically in infrastructure.
Trudeau’s first brief meeting was with Ontario financial representatives at a swank downtown Toronto hotel where he talked about a $180-billion investment opportunity.
“Canada has a made very strong commitment to be investing in infrastructure over the next 12 years,” Trudeau told the group of Canadian pension funds and financial institutions.
“We need to make sure that the investments we’re making are going to bring Canada in the right direction and done as efficiently as possible.”
Trudeau talked about leveraging private capital to make taxpayer dollars “go even further.”
The aim, he said, was to put the country in the global vanguard when it comes to transit, green and other types of infrastructure.
“These are the things that we know are going to be a key part of Canada’s growth.”
The prime minister did not speak after the meeting and several of those in attendance, including the ahead of the Toronto-Dominion bank, declined to comment.
Trudeau and many members of his cabinet also planned a second meeting later Monday with two dozen representatives of large international pools of capital worth as much as $21 trillion. Those at the table were expected to include representatives of central banks, sovereign wealth funds, insurers and pension funds.
WATCH: The minister of infrastructure and communities, Amarjeet Sohi, defended the Liberals infrastructure budget by acknowledging ongoing and future projects, such as transit, that will help build cities across Canada.
Attracting billions in private-sector capital for infrastructure projects is key to the Liberal government’s long-term strategy to boost Canada’s sluggish economic growth.
The investors’ summit comes just two weeks after Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced plans to launch an infrastructure bank next year, into which the government pledged to pump $35 billion over the coming decade.
In addition to the infrastructure bank, the government also intends to create a new Invest in Canada Hub for attracting foreign investment; and it plans to relax some restrictions on foreign investment.
The summit is being hosted by the federal government but BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, organized the event. BlackRock’s legendary founder, Laurence Fink, was expected to be among the participants in the summit.
No specific projects have yet been identified for funding from the bank but Trudeau, Morneau and Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi were expected to tell potential investors that toll bridges, energy grids and water systems could all be attractive investments for fund managers looking for predictable, long-term returns.
– With files from Joan Bryden in Ottawa.