On January 6, 2014, Communica Vancouver attended the Vancouver Board of Trade’s first event of 2014 featuring Prime Minister Stephen Harper discussing Canada’s economic future. Iain Black from the Vancouver Board of Trade moderated the discussion that covered a variety of opportunities and challenges facing Canada’s economy, including recent trade agreements, the energy industry and Aboriginal issues. The official government news release from the event can be found here.
Prime Minister Harper and Iain Black from the Vancouver Board of Trade
Prime Minister Harper spoke extensively about the importance of Canada’s economic trading relationships. He discussed the recent Agreement in Principle for a Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. This means Canada, unlike any other G8 country, would have tariff-free access to all of the European Union. The agreement is a key piece in diversifying Canada’s global trading beyond its current North America focus.
Prime Minister Harper noted that the energy industry is one of the main engines behind Canada’s economic growth. There is without a doubt an imperative to diversify the markets for our energy exports and to reach Asian customers.
Prime Minister Harper explained that the government’s role is not to endorse particular projects but to set up the proper regulatory processes to review, scrutinize and evaluate these projects. With the best scientific evidence available, the federal government will assess both the economic interests and the environmental effects of major energy projects. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure environmental protections are in place before these projects proceed.
On moving forward with Aboriginal relations, Prime Minister Harper described how the federal government is moving forward with land claims to bring certainty to some areas. However, Prime Minister Harper prefers to view Aboriginal issues in this country not just through treaties and the constitutional obligations to consult, but through a lens of economic development opportunities.
He explained that Canada’s natural resource development is bringing massive economic opportunities to areas of Canada primarily inhabited by Aboriginal peoples. This will allow Aboriginal groups to join the mainstream Canadian economy. And, through this economic development, progress in issues plaguing Aboriginal communities, such as social, health and educational issues, will be made.
Prime Minister Harper remains optimistic about Canada’s economic outlook over the short, medium and long terms. He said that as long as the federal government remains focused on the economy, and Canada’s political stability and ability to make decisions holds, Canada will have a prosperous economic future.
At this well-attended Board of Trade event, Vancouver’s business community seemed to share in the enthusiasm for Canada’s economic growth.
–Jessica Davies, Communica
The Vancouver Board of Trade presents Prime Minister Harper with a Vancouver Canucks jersey