PM Justin Trudeau using Quora, LinkedIn to sell Canada’s innovation agenda

Justin Trudeau

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau turned to Q&A platform Quora to drive home the point that Canada is setting itself up to become a global leader in innovation and tech.

Trudeau answered questions that were not only cheerful and personal, but also questions that offered insights into Canada’s increasing focus on innovation, its investments in the tech sector, and growing domestic talent.

When asked about his stance on artificial intelligence (AI) research, Trudeau explained how the recent federal budget is investing $125 million to launch a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy to retain and attract talent in AI.

“The strategy will promote collaboration between Canada’s main centres of expertise in Montreal, Toronto-Waterloo, and Edmonto n and position Canada as a world-leading destination for companies seeking to invest in artificial intelligence and innovation,” wrote Trudeau.

As part of the $125 million investment, the federal government is already contributing $40 million to $50 million towards the Vector Institute, a new Toronto-based institute that aims to support research in AI. The non-profit institute, which is affiliated with the University of Toronto, will hire approximately 25 new faculty and research scientists to commercialize research in AI and machine-learning.

In his Q&A session, Trudeau also addressed what governments need to do to prepare for the automation of human jobs. He noted that while automation replacing jobs is inevitable, governments should embrace advancements in automation, while helping to educate and train people to help them find sustainable careers.

“We know that the job market is changing, and instead of resisting in vain, we’re focused on funding research and innovation, like in AI and quantum computing, that’ll help lead the change here in Canada,” writes Trudeau. “And while we do that, we’re preparing Canadians to find good jobs through investments in education and training.”

Trudeau pointed out that Canada’s budget this year includes more grants and interest-free loans for students, in addition to investing in 10,000 “work-integrated learning placements” for students. At the same time, citizens who are a part of the Employment Insurance (EI) program will be able to keep their status if they are pursuing self-funded skills training.

“For unemployed workers receiving EI, this will mean that they can return to school to get the training they need to find a new job—without fear of losing the EI benefits they need to support themselves and their families,” wrote Trudeau, who said Budget 2017 has proposed to provide $132.4 million, over four years, and $37.9 million per year thereafter, towards this initiative.

When asked why the best engineers in the world should come to Canada, Trudeau said innovation and creativity often requires tapping into people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds, and that encouraging multiculturalism at Canada’s post-secondary institutions like the University of Waterloo is crucial.

“The reason University of Waterloo is the top recruiting spot for Silicon Valley certainly has to do with the incredible multiculturalism of its graduates, and not just for the high quality of education,” writes Trudeau.

Trudeau also noted that Canada can deepen its multicultural tech pool “by reaching out beyond our borders.” Pointing to the new Global Talent Stream, a feature of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that will offer a two-week permit processing time to bring in highly-skilled talent.

Trudeau said that he’s committed to bringing the best talent into Canadian businesses. “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,” he wrote.

This isn’t the first time that the Prime Minister has used an online platform to promote Canada’s commitment to innovation. After the budget was released, Trudeau took to LinkedIn to break down how the so-called Innovation Agenda would benefit Canadians — especially through education.

“It is vital that Canadian children – from kindergarten through Grade 12 – have access to education that prepares them for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” he wrote. “Budget 2017 invests in organizations that teach girls and boys digital skills and coding, which means more young Canadians will be ready for a workforce that is inherently tech-savvy.”

To read through the full session, click here.

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer at BetaKit. As a fourth-year journalism student who has written primarily about entrepreneurship, Amira has developed a growing interest in Canadian startup, business, and tech news. In her free time, Amira enjoys reading, baking and watching legal shows.

  • M. Brian Palmer

    So, I take it that people understand how A.I. is already affecting them in very negative ways, I mean the poor people, mainly (i.e. most and growing numbers of us, not only in Canada, but across the globe).

    https://weaponsofmathdestructionbook.com/

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/17/postcapitalism-end-of-capitalism-begun

    Once we prayed to Nature, then Gods (then tyrants, then One God, etc.) for certainty and control, now we pray bits into silicon chips (God may be dead, but computers never will be, but only because they are not, nor will they ever be ALIVE, let alone CONSCIOUS! The burden of proof here is not on me, as they are clearly only dead things now!).

    And they say Science is not (a) Faith, I beg to differ…

    No one seems concerned that the metaphysics on which we justify such BS as “The Singularity” are illogical.

    Numbers aren’t physical in any way as far as we know, but all our materialist dogma is based on the assumption that matter is all there is, AND that it’s the numbers alone that will lay all this certainty and control at our feet, through KNOWLEDGE.

    Once it was wisdom that was valued more (philo-sophia).

    We are so mad with the ignorance of what justifies our conventional hopes for human salvation that we, instead, gleefully further the means to our own likely future collective and individual neglect and suffering, as these many (DEAD) digital saviours replace us.

    People need jobs for purpose now more than ever, and especially if God is dead.

    How will people survive in this profit mad world when they continue to lose jobs to computers, and have their lives increasingly dehumanized and alienated by ONLY QUANTITATIVE INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION, now that the REAL natural world that is our SOURCE of LIFE is pushed to endless environmental brinks, will they eat algorithms?

    I call this “The McDonald’sization of the World”

    At some point more EFFICIENCY means less VALUE!

    The most important values are hard to represent, if they can be represented at all. Technology can neither measure, nor create this kind of value.

    It is by definition invaluable (but vanishing from our collective purview of concern).

    LESS is MORE.