I'd like to begin by thanking my esteemed colleagues. You are members of one of the House of Commons committees that plays a key role in assuring Canada's long-term prosperity. It's therefore a pleasure to be with you as we inform and define the industrial policy that will make Canada prosperous for generations to come.
Mr. Chair, as you know, it's a pleasure for me to appear before the committee today. I apologize for last time, but I think I was scheduled and some things happened.
This committee is so critical to informing, shaping and advancing our industrial policy, as I was saying. I'm grateful for the thoughts, the work and the leadership of the committee in helping us to shape the best possible industrial policy.
As 2023 unfolds, the Canadian and global economies continue to change rapidly. Profound forces are reshaping whole industries as well as domestic and global supply chains. We are living in a time of a green and digital transformation of our economy, and this opens generational opportunities for Canada. A digital revolution is transforming how and where business is done, a phenomenon being driven by frontier technologies such as AI, quantum and biotech.
I want to say that this morning I announced further investment in AI at Scale AI, one of our global innovation clusters.
Coming back from Washington...and some of the members were with me.
Sébastien Lemire, among others, was with me in Washington last week. I can tell you that our American neighbours acknowledge Canada's leadership in artificial intelligence, quantum computing and cyber security. It is technologies like these that will move us forward in the 21st-century economy.
The impacts of climate change are becoming more obvious every day, driving governments, investors and consumers to demand low-carbon green products and services. Finally, the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and a complex geopolitical environment have underlined the risk of volatile supply chains and a need for adaptability and resiliency.
I continue going back to my trip to Washington last week with the . Resilient supply chains was the topic that everyone wanted to talk about with Canada.
Countries are recognizing that, in the future, strong and resilient economies will need to be digital, sustainable and driven by scientific and technological excellence. As such, we have worked diligently to create the conditions for Canada's success.
Canada has a unique opportunity—a generational opportunity, as I have said before—to become a leader in the economy of tomorrow. I've often said that Canada has everything needed for a 21st century economy, by which I mean a sustainable, knowledge-based economy with a greater emphasis on digital technology.
I believe that Canada can be the strategic partner of choice for our allies around the world, because we have what a 21st-century economy requires.
That's the vision and the message that I shared in Tokyo, Berlin, Seoul, London and Brussels during my recent visits there, as well as in Washington, where I was last week, as I mentioned earlier.
For many of our strategic trading partners, the question is no longer “why Canada?”, but rather “how and when Canada?” They realize that we have what very few countries can offer. We have the five elements that drive investment.
The first is talent. Canada is still a very big magnet for talent. My colleague Sébastien Lemire heard me say that more than once in all of our meetings.
The second thing is strong ecosystems, which you see in the auto sector, the EV industry, aerospace and biomanufacturing.
We have key natural resources, like critical minerals, to be able to manufacture the batteries and semiconductors.
We have abundant renewable energy. As supply chains are getting greener, we can produce green steel and green aluminum, and we hope to produce green batteries and green semiconductors.
Finally is the access to market. I always remind people around the world—and you've heard me say this, Mr. Chair—that we're not a country of 38 million people, but a country that gives preferential market access to 1.5 billion consumers. That is a message that is resonating around the world.
I don't need to tell you that, more than ever, proximity to resources, markets and assembly lines are dictating investment decisions. That's why Canada has been winning a number of strategic investments recently. Supply chains are going from global to regional, with more emphasis on resiliency than pure efficiency. These new market dynamics play very well to Canada's strengths.
Mr. Chair, allow me to illustrate my point with a few concrete examples.
In the life sciences and biomanufacturing sector, we've made huge investments to better protect Canadians' health and ensure their safety. For example, we attracted leading companies to Canada, like Moderna in Montreal, we strengthened the foothold and presence of leaders in Canada, like Sanofi in Toronto, and supported innovative domestic companies like Vancouver-based AbCellera.
In the aerospace sector, projects worth nearly $2 billion have been launched, challenging industry leaders to look to the future and invest in sustainable aviation, including hybrid propulsion and biofuels. I can tell you that major manufacturing companies are looking at what's happening in these leading-edge areas in Canada. For example, the president of Boeing told us that he was well aware of what was happening here.
In the automotive sector, we're on track for the next 20 to 30 years. We're helping build a complete EV and battery ecosystem, from mining to recycling, attracting the likes of GM‑POSCO, Umicore and LG‑Stellantis, which is building the first battery giga-factory in Canada.
BloombergNEF, As you may have seen, recently ranked Canada's battery ecosystem in second place, behind China and ahead of countries like the United States. It's interesting to note that in less than a year we've succeeded in carving out an enviable position for ourselves in electric vehicle manufacturing.
We not only secured key commitments from all the major automakers already in Canada but also recently signed strategic agreements with Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz during the German Chancellor's visit.
We are also helping to decarbonize key industries like steel, in partnership with ArcelorMittal Dofasco and Algoma Steel, and green aluminum, with Rio Tinto and Alcoa. That's the well-known Elysis project recognized around the world.
In short, through strategic investments, we are positioning Canada to lead in key economic sectors central to a green 21st-century economy.
But our vision doesn't end there.
We must redouble our efforts if we are to become leaders in hydrogen production. We need to turbocharge investments in cleantech, agtech, biotech and fintech. And we must seriously consider the possibility of producing semiconductors here in Canada, thus integrating the country into the North American value chain. You've no doubt heard me before on the subject of the Albany-Bromont corridor. I also talked about it when I was in Washington. Establishing this corridor would put us in a key position for semiconductors in North America.
My mandate also includes scientific research and development, which are at the very core and key drivers of innovation. Someone recently told me the research of today is the economy of tomorrow. I don't think it could be better said.
That's why we recently recapitalized the pan-Canadian artificial intelligence strategy with more than $443 million in support of commercialization, standardization, talent and research. We also announced more than $360 million to our national quantum strategy to capitalize on Canada's leadership position in quantum.
The good news is that it's already bearing fruit, with Canadian champions like Xanadu. I don't know if colleagues know, but Xanadu is the only company in the world that has a quantum computer that is dedicated to battery chemistry. Everyone you talk to around the world in the OEMs knows about Xanadu. This is a real Canadian champion. This is about applied quantum, which is making a difference.
We have also doubled down on our commitment to invest in research and development, so that we can ensure our competitiveness.
This morning I announced not only that we would double down on AI, but that we are further investing $750 million in the global innovation clusters program. We will be working with our partners in the private sector to generate significant investment.
This funding will help scale up innovative ecosystems in areas of significant Canadian competitive advantage, including digital economies, which we see a lot in western Canada; the protein industries, which is how we can feed the world with plant protein; and advanced manufacturing, which is serving our ecosystem well. I know my colleague Brian Masse knows all about that. It also includes artificial intelligence, which we already have a head start on for supply chain and logistics; and finally, ocean technologies for colleagues on the east coast, where Canada is also punching above its weight.
We are also launching a new lab-to-market platform to help graduate students and researchers commercialize their work. There are new targeted scholarships and fellowships for promising Black student researchers. We will soon be announcing a cohort of new, internationally recruited Canada excellence research chairs in the STEM fields.
Mr. Chair, before I conclude my remarks, I want to take the opportunity—briefly, because I see my time is going fast—to say a word about an issue that recently made some headlines regarding research security.
First, let me be very clear to Canadians who are watching. Protecting Canadian research and intellectual property against foreign interference, espionage and theft is our government's top priority—and it is my top priority. That's why, in 2021, I issued national security guidelines for research partnerships, investing $160 million to help universities build their internal capacity.
That said, it is clear that more needs to be done. We all need to do more, including the provinces and universities. As I said to the science committee, we'll be coming up with new mandatory rules to make sure that we tighten up in light of what we're seeing.
That's why, earlier this month, I directed the Canada Foundation for Innovation—or I will be directing them very shortly—to take a new and stronger posture when it comes to research security. All the granting agencies will have new mandatory guidelines they will need to follow in order to protect our research in light of what we've seen. I will also write to representatives of Canada's universities to urge them to do likewise for all their research partnerships and, more particularly, the partnerships involving sensitive research.
My message is this: We're going to do more. The provinces need to do more. The universities need to to do more. That, I think, is how we are going to be protecting.
I'd say that Canada has never been as well positioned as it is now to leverage industrial innovation to achieve a sustainable and resilient economic future. Canada has never been in such a strong position to become a key strategic partner for the whole world.
We need to be ambitious and to seize this opportunity to make Canada a leader in the economy of the 21st century.
I'd be happy to answer your questions.
We'd like to have you for two hours, though—maybe next time.
Minister, you have a good quote about competition. You say, “I will never waver in my commitment to promote competition and make wireless services more affordable for all Canadians.” We can agree on that much.
I've been very vocal. I feel there's been a competition failure in the divestiture of Freedom Mobile from the Rogers-Shaw merger. The point of that was that Rogers, the most expensive wireless carrier in the world, by the stats, and the number one market shareholder in Canada, was freely able, in buying an asset from Shaw, to control that divestiture and who it was going to sell it to. The fourth competitor was, of course, Vidéotron. Rogers did so without the approval and the remedy process from the Competition Bureau. Of course, we saw what happened in the tribunal.
What was more disturbing was that there were competitors that were trying to be involved in that deal, and they were shut out. Globalive and Distributel each offered almost $900 million more to buy that asset from Shaw Mobile, yet they were excluded as a whole.
When we had this committee and investigated that, there were a couple of alarming testimonies. Number one, through lobbyist registries, we found that you met with Rogers five times last year. ISED met 60 times with Rogers, yet Globalive and Distributel both claimed that they couldn't get a call or a meeting at all.
We found that when it came to NDAs that Rogers had signed, they would give a different one to Globalive than they gave to anyone else. They certainly weren't engaging with Globalive or others. The system seemed to be broken. When the competition for competitors of the divestiture came, it seemed like Rogers could just pick who it wanted to deal with or, more importantly, who it didn't want to deal with. If it came to Globalive or to Distributel, if it decided not to engage with them, the process was completely eliminated.
My first question to you, sir, is if you feel that process was fair in how that was handled.