Justin Trudeau shot back at Durham MP Erin O’Toole for referencing Trudeau’s “swagger” during Question Period after the prime minister used the phrase to describe the growth of Canada’s innovation economy at a conference the day before.
While speaking at e-commerce giant Shopify’s annual conference in Toronto on Tuesday, Trudeau said he’d like Canada to have “a little more swagger” when it came to promoting homegrown innovations. The comment received mixed reactions, and came up several times during Question Period the following day.
O’Toole referenced the comment when talking about bringing Taiwan into the World Health Assembly.
“Will the prime minister show some global swagger and take a public position in support of Taiwan joining the World Health Assembly, or will he remain silent due to his admiration for basic dictatorship?” asked O’Toole.
Trudeau responded with an impassioned speech about Canadians being confident about “swaggering” on the world stage.
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“The Conservatives seem to have an issue with the idea of swagger, the ideas of Canadians being strong and proud on the world stage,” Trudeau responded.
“Canadians understanding that being back on the world stage, being positively engaged, being confident about our investments in AI, our investments in new technologies, our investments in the economy of the future, are things to be proud of here in Canada. No, we will not apologize for swaggering when it comes to talking about Canada and being confident in the future we are building together.”
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In his speech at Shopify’s conference the day before, Trudeau praised Canada’s entrepreneurs, but lamented how susceptible their innovations are to overseas investors.
Trudeau says he’s seen a lot of funding flowing to Canada from Silicon Valley, where major American technology companies have built their businesses.
He went on to add that “we need to do a better job of generating that capital here.”
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Trudeau also says there’s a flurry of Canadians returning home from the U.S., but he did not elaborate further.
His statement is at odds with recent worries from experts of a so-called brain drain caused by computer engineering workers in Canada moving south of the border for jobs.
-With files from the Canadian Press.