Navdeep Bains has been mandated with directing Canadian business toward a new-economic future and tackling decisions on the growth of industry.
Mr. Bains is now Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, a portfolio that used to be called Industry, but was renamed to reflect the new-economy mission. His goals include encouraging R&D and helping businesses scale up and go global. He hopes to develop an “Innovation Agenda.”
Bains oversees a multibillion-dollar government department in charge of Canada’s industrial policy and sees himself as the voice of business at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet table.
He is responsible for deciding whether Ottawa should invest money into aerospace manufacturer Bombardier Inc. and its C-Series airliners, and planning federal support for the auto sector if Canada ratifies the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
The bridge between new-economy innovation and old-economy subsidies has a new theme under the Liberals. Even though the Conservatives subsidized industry, their rhetoric was often skeptical of government’s role. The Liberals on the other hand, stressed new-economy innovation and came to power promising growth, jobs and thriving industry.
Bains believes that when it comes to old-school industries such as the auto sector, innovation is an important factor. Canada has lost assembly-line projects to low-wage areas such as Mexico, although he agrees that attracting them is a challenge, labour costs are only a small part of the equation.
Perhaps the new Minister will also re-examine the benefits of jump starting Canada’s business immigration programs an area that was largely eliminated under the conservatives.
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