Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today dropped the new mandate letters for his ministers, with the innovation minister’s objectives including a number of targets for the Canadian tech sector.
That list includes launching a national quantum strategy and a Canadian version of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The letters came two months after Trudeau announced his new, post-election cabinet on October 26. The shuffle followed the September election, which saw the prime minister lose some of his cabinet ministers. For the innovation and business sector, the most notable change was Mélanie Joly leaving her role as minister of economic development and official languages to become foreign affairs minister.
For François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science, and industry, the new mandate letters outline an extensive set of objectives that put a spotlight on sustainability and COVID-19-related work, but also include a laundry list of things the Canadian tech sector has been calling for.
Champagne’s objectives that are relevant to Canadian tech include:
- The launch of a National Quantum Strategy;
- Advancement of the National Cyber Security Action Plan and the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy;
- Investment in the National Research Council’s Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre;
- Adding 1,000 Canada Research Chairs to help attract and retain top talent at Canadian universities and support graduate research;
- Establishment of a new fund to help colleges and universities commercialize leading research;
- Working with the Minister of Public Safety to “safeguard Canada’s world-leading research ecosystem” and intellectual property (IP) intensive businesses;
- Moving forward with a Canadian research agency (promised on the campaign trail) modelled on the United States’s DARPA;
- Support for digital policy, including the establishment of a digital policy task force and introducing legislation to advance the Digital Charter created by former innovation Minister Navdeep Bains in 2019 and;
- A focus on sustainability that includes the implementation of the Net Zero Accelerator Initiative; supporting the procurement of Canadian clean technology; a new infrastructure and innovation fund that will scale-up and commercialize made-in-Canada technologies for the reuse and recycling of plastics; and developing a climate data strategy to provide the private sector with access to data that could inform planning and infrastructure investments.
“In today’s mandate letters we see substantive detail of a policy agenda for the Liberal government, which includes a number of positive measures to help build the regulatory structures, funding mechanisms, and marketplace frameworks to create the conditions for success in the 21st-century digital economy,” said CCI’s director of strategic initiatives, Dana O’Born.
“Minister Champagne and the rest of the federal cabinet have a lot of work to do,” she added, speaking on behalf of CCI’s Canadian tech company members.
Mary Ng, minister of international trade, export promotion, small business and economic development, has a variety of items on her plate as well, including climate action and the digital economy. Among other things, she has also been tasked with adding a stream to the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy’s Ecosystem Fund, focused on diversity.
The mandate letters also outline how various ministers are set to support the federal government’s Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). In his post-election cabinet shuffle Trudeau divvied up the RDA agenda to six ministers after dividing the Western Canada RDA to create the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada and Prairies Economic Development Canada.
“We welcome the government’s renewed aspiration to update Canada’s privacy law, but we urge Minister Champagne to consult with private sector leaders and experts about how to achieve the government’s objectives without unintended negative consequences to growth and prosperity,” O’Born stated.