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Speech – World Economic Forum and Canadian Association of New York (CANY)
Speech by the Honourable Bill Morneau, P.C., M.P.
Check against delivery
Hello and thank you for joining me here today.
I’d first like to thank Jean-Pierre Rosso, Jonathon Cini and the World Economic Forum team who helped organize this luncheon.
I want to thank Consul General Phyllis Yaffe, as well as Ken Ottenbreit from CANY for helping with this event.
And I want to thank our moderator Gillian Tett for joining us today.
I’m thrilled to be back in New York City.
A few weeks ago, I met with students at Columbia University to talk a little bit about what makes the Canada-US relationship so special—
The shared priorities that make us more than neighbours, but strong partners who, more often than not, share the same goals.
Priorities like providing a better life for the middle class, and those working hard to join it.
And creating good, well-paying jobs on both sides of the border, so that hard-working Americans and Canadians can give their kids and their grandkids a better future.
On March 22, I tabled our government’s second budget, which we called Building a Strong Middle Class.
This budget is the next step in our plan to make responsible investments that support families, build our communities, and help Canada be globally competitive in the new economy.
It is a plan that began 18 months ago, when we were first elected.
We got to work immediately by lowering taxes for middle class Canadians, and providing a more generous and better-targeted benefit for families with children.
And more support for students, women and Indigenous Peoples.
We also made historic enhancements to Canada’s public pension plan and renewed funding for our public health care system—particularly in mental health and home care.
We also signed trade agreements and partnerships that have made Canada’s place in the world stronger—
All of these things in just 18 months.
And already we are seeing encouraging signs that our plan is working.
There is a growing sense of optimism among Canada’s middle class.
Consumer spending is up.
Unemployment has fallen in the time since we took office.
Since July of last year, over 250,000 jobs were created, almost all of which were full-time. This is the strongest seven months of job gains in a decade.
And the pace of economic expansion is forecast to pick up in 2017.
But we know there’s more to do.
Why? Because all over the world, countries—including Canada—are being challenged to address middle class anxiety.
At my first G20 meeting in Antalya, Turkey, in November of 2015, Canada’s plan to restore optimism to our middle class was looked upon with curiosity by some of the other representatives.
Less than a year later, at the G20 Summit in China, the idea that the benefits of growth need to be more widely shared was on everyone’s lips—and top of the agenda.
A few weeks ago, at the G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting in Germany, it was simply an accepted truth.
It was at that meeting where I met Secretary Mnuchin for the second time.
Our discussion was a continuation of the conversation that I feel began in Canada—how we can work together to strengthen the middle class.
Though we in Canada feel like we were ahead of the curve in beginning to address these problems a year and a half ago, we aren’t about to quit while we’re ahead.
That’s why we’re building on our initial investments to make our communities better places to live, with historic investments in infrastructure: more than CAD$180 billion over the next decade.
We are working with provincial and municipal governments to plan, implement and deliver transformative infrastructure that makes the daily commute shorter and our communities healthier.
And we will work with the private sector to do even more.
Our $35 billion Canada Infrastructure Bank will work with the private sector to create opportunities that are big and transformational, so that we can create thousands of jobs and attract as much as $4 to $5 in private capital for every tax dollar invested.
Recently, we welcomed the announcement by our leading financial institutions to establish a business growth fund that will help ambitious Canadian companies get the capital they need to grow and succeed globally.
We saw a challenge. We worked together to solve it. Quickly. And at no cost to the taxpayer.
We’ve also chosen to make big bets by focusing investments in six economic sectors where we know Canada can lead the way globally: digital, clean technology, agri-food, advanced manufacturing, bio-sciences and clean resources.
Just last week we announced a CAD$125 million investment in a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, designed to support and link together three particularly strong and emerging clusters in the Canadian cities of Montréal, Toronto and Edmonton.
But as complex as the technology we rely on gets, we can never forget who’s behind that innovation.
People—and I’m not just speaking of Canadians here.
Which is why our plan is not just working to create jobs today, we’re getting Canadians ready for the jobs of tomorrow.
It is an ambitious plan. We are looking far down the road to ensure prosperity of the next generation.
And we are looking past our own borders to build on that prosperity through new partnerships, and old friends.
As I’ve said before, openness and investment are the keys to Canada’s future success.
As we look to grow our economy, we are aiming to dramatically increase our exports, particularly in those sectors I just mentioned.
So naturally, we are going to turn first to Canada’s best customer and trusted partner—the United States.
In part, that’s why I’m back here in New York—my second visit here and fourth visit to the United States in just over two months.
Tomorrow I’ll be in Indianapolis.
I’m here to remind you that we do a lot of business together.
Almost US$2 billion (CAD$2.4 billion) per day, every day, in terms of goods and services trade—even more if you include cross-border investment.
Together, our two countries are building a 21st century border through initiatives that will expedite the safe—and vital—flow of people, information and goods across our shared border.
Just consider one of the many ways in which Canada’s and America’s middle class are deeply linked—your car’s transmission and how it got to you.
It begins at Metaldyne, St. Cloud, Minnesota, where scrap iron chips are cast—scrap iron chips from Canada.
These materials are then sent back to Linamar, a Canadian auto parts manufacturer based in Guelph, Ontario (560 employees), to be machined and assembled.
Then that part crosses the border for a third time back to the Ford transmission plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, where it becomes part of a fully assembled transmission.
Then the completed transmission is shipped back to an assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario, Canada where it is installed in the vehicle.
Then the assembled vehicle crosses the border for a fifth and final time on its way to a dealership in your neighbourhood.
It’s an incredible journey that touches the lives of hundreds of people on both sides of our border—Canadians and Americans with good middle class jobs.
Regardless of the rapidly changing economy, this journey will persist.
Because behind all the innovation, there are our people—talented and creative Americans and Canadians who work to build our cars, grow our food, and turn new technologies into products sold around the world.
The transmission in your car is just one of countless examples that underscore how we are connected and what we can achieve through trade and partnership.
It is a specific example of how entire industries are linked across the continent.
The North American steel industry, for example, is highly integrated, bringing jobs and benefits to the United States as well as Canada.
This two-way trade is essential to the prosperity of workers—including steel makers—in both countries.
That is why we believe a border tax is not in the best interest of American or Canadian families—in fact it would make us poorer, by imposing extra costs on US companies and disrupting trade at the border.
This is trade that works.
It works for our economies and it works to help the middle class in both Canada and the United States.
That is why we are making targeted investments to address bottlenecks in our national trade corridors, making our marine ports, airports, as well as rail lines and highways more efficient—to better connect our two economies.
In supporting a more innovative economy, we will help young Canadian companies scale up, increasing opportunities for investment and establishing new supply chains that build on where we have succeeded together in the past.
Our plan is focused on building Canada’s middle class, but the prosperity we are after doesn’t stop at our border.
Canada-US trade works.
Canada-US trade brings assurance to the middle class and those working hard to join it, at a time where the future seems less than certain.
That makes it worth investing in, preserving and pushing forward.
Thank you. I am happy to take a few questions.
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