The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland was held this past week from Jan. 20-23. This “Forum” is a Swiss nonprofit organization that holds a yearly event in Davos at which 2,500 of some of the world’s most influential business leaders, intellectuals, journalists and political leaders come together to discuss the relevant and current issues related to international, public and private sector cooperation.
The issues tackled at the forum are not restricted to particular subject matter. According to Ventures Africa, some of the primary issues discussed this year at the forum were the fall in global oil prices, the Paris Climate Accord and China’s impact on the global market. Yet, besides these economic issues, social issues are readily addressed as well. According to The Financial Post, one issue that was of particular concern this year was “glass ceilings” (obstacles) that prevent women from achieving top positions in the business and financial sector as easily as men. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke at the event and, like many other leaders, used the time to petition foreign investors.
According to The Globe and Mail, Trudeau told reporters at the forum that, “People who invest billions of dollars in the global economy gather here and I’ve been spending the past few days pitching them on Canada … and encouraging them to take a closer look at Canada.” Trudeau met with potential investors, such as billionaires like the founder of the Chinese website Alibaba, Jack Ma, and defended his policy positions as being economically responsible, claiming that, “the Liberal government would not allow a runaway deficit”. He also touted the Liberal Party’s infrastructural development plan and emphasis on middle-class economic growth, increased employment, innovation and educational improvements as being indicative of promising investment opportunities in Canada.
Trudeau’s aim was not only to prove his policies as being fiscally sound, but to “rebrand” Canada. Trudeau said in an interview, “People with money to invest like to think they can look the Prime Minister in the eye and get a sense of what his core beliefs are and how their investment will be treated in Canada.”
Yet, Trudeau was not free from critique. At the forum he claimed he wanted Canada to be known for its “resourcefulness” rather than its “resources”. Throughout the forum, Trudeau emphasized Canada’s economic diversity while also signaling a move away from fossil fuel-based energy. According to an article by The National Post, many who work in the energy sector feel that their government is abandoning them. Another article in The Financial Post notes that “Trudeau’s ‘Sunny-Ways’ marketing may have amused the Davos elites, but it’s cold comfort to the estimated 100,000 people back home who lost their direct and indirect oil and gas jobs over the past year, or their homes and businesses, or their life savings. For the legions of scientists who work in the energy sector, it’s downright insulting.”
Mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi, disagreed with Trudeau, saying that, “We are a resource economy. Our biggest export is still energy and I do not see a path where that does not continue to be the case, so clearly we need to do what we can on market access,” according to the Calgary Herald.
Whether one does or doesn’t agree with Trudeau’s economic assessment and portrayal of Canada, there is no doubt that he has “rebranded” Canada at the World Economic Forum.
Assistant External News Editor