Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a Quora Q&A session on Monday, answering questions both light-hearted and personal but also some with added international significance. For sure, the man claims to have read “just about everything” by Stephen King, but he also believes strongly in Canada’s evolving relationship with Britain and the EU and, significantly, has stated that concerning the US and Donald Trump, he promises to stand up for both Canadian values and the Canadian economy.
One comment of note came in reply to the question, “Why should the best engineers in the world come to Canada?” to which Trudeau responded that innovation and creativity often require tapping into a range of perspectives and backgrounds, both cultural and knowledge-based, and that encouraging multiculturalism at Canada’s post-secondary institutions (he singles out the University of Waterloo as a prime recruiting ground for the technology industry) is therefore not only ultra-Canadian in its roots but ultimately the best way to get the job done.
Trudeau said that he wants to deepen Canada’s multicultural science and technology pool “by reaching out beyond our borders,” and, pointing to the new Global Talent Stream, a path within the Temporary Foreign Worker Program which will aim at a two-week standard for processing work permit applications for highly skilled talent, he insisted that he’s onside with luring as many big brains to Canadian businesses as possible.
“We want to help high-growth companies bring in the talent they need quickly by slashing the processing time for a Canada visa application from six months to just 10 business days,” said Trudeau.
Founded in 2009, Quora is a popular question and answer site that was started by two former Facebook employees and is now valued at nearly a billion dollars.
All signs point to this being the right approach to take, both in terms of how to create a robust economy here in Canada and how to deal with prickly neighbours on the international front. The idea of soft power seems to have been booted to the curb in today’s America First/Brexit climate, but there’s little chance it won’t return to prominence once the new US regime finds out that its brand of economic nationalism won’t bring it the return to riches it had hoped for.
Much has been written about the projected brain drain from the United States, as that country’s immigration ban has reportedly caused international academics, scientists and tech workers either working in or planning to move to the US to reconsider their plans and head to places like, well, like Canada, instead.
Not just in academia and the tech fields, though, the US oil industry, for one, is expected to be leaking chemical, electrical and production engineers over upcoming months and years. After the announcement of the second executive order on international travel from select Muslim countries, The Guardian went to Texas to report on the new Trump order’s effects on hiring, finding that Muslims already in Texas are being spurred to move to greener pastures. “Canada is looking good. So is Germany,” said an electrical engineer from Pakistan, currently living in Midland, Texas. “When you come here you feel like you’re giving up your honour just to get set up.”
It’s no small matter, either, attracting immigrants to your country. Writing in the Washington Post, tech entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa referred to some of his own research which found that 24.3 per cent of US engineering and technology start-up companies and 43.9 per cent of start-ups based in Silicon Valley were founded by immigrants. And more than 40 per cent of the international patent applications filed by the US government had foreign-national authors.
Immigrants play “an outsize role in US research and innovation,” says Wadhwa. “Clearly, blocking the path of immigrants into the United States cuts off the exact economic growth serum that has made America great,” he says.
Thus, yes, Mr. Trudeau, stand up for Canadian values and let them ring throughout the land. Our made-in-Canada take on openness and diversity is sure to be the winning ticket.