Canada: Partnership, Investment and Openness  

Speech

Introductory Remarks by the Honourable Bill Morneau, PC, MP

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It is a pleasure to be here with you in Frankfurt.

Thank you for that kind introduction.

As some of you may know, a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had the distinct honour of speaking at the St. Matthew's Day Banquet in Hamburg.

His remarks called on us as leaders in government and business to step up; to lead by drawing people together.

And to demonstrate a real commitment to engaging with the world so that we can make a real, positive difference in people's lives.

Tomorrow at the G20 in Baden-Baden, I will be sharing Canada's positive approach to strengthening our middle class and giving every Canadian a real and fair chance at success.

It's a message that has been resonating around the world.

But remember, that hasn't always been the case.

In fact, when I travelled to my first G20, the summit in Antalya, Turkey in November 2015, the idea that growth needed to be shared or that middle class anxiety was palpable was not very well understood.

At the time, people looked at our plan for more generous and income-tested child benefits, tax increases for the rich, and tax cuts for the middle class as a bit of a curiosity.

I think we can all agree that curiosity has been satisfied over the last year or so.

The anxiety felt by families around the world and their concern for their children's future has fuelled very powerful movements.

Anti-globalization, protectionism and even anti-immigration sentiments are a symptom of the fact that people—what we in Canada call our middle class, and those working hard to join it—are feeling uncertain about their future.

They look at the pace of technological change, and the seemingly never-ending need for new skills, and are understandably stressed about the future.

It's hard to feel confident, and to face every day with optimism, when you can't see what's around the corner.

That's why at my last G20 summit in China, the idea that the benefits of growth need to be more widely shared was not just at the top of the agenda, it was on everyone's lips.

And while we have found common ground in this effort to create and promote what we call inclusive growth, there is still more we can do to bring optimism and confidence back to the middle class around the world.

In Canada, we've chosen to meet this challenge head-on, with a positive, generous response.

It's what our Prime Minister calls sunny ways.

Our plan puts middle class families first.

As our first action, we cut taxes for the middle class and raised them on the wealthiest one per cent.

We made it easier for young Canadians to get an education by increasing student grants by up to 50 per cent, and told recent graduates that they wouldn't have to pay back their student loans until they got their first job.

And with the introduction of a much better-targeted child benefit—what we call the Canada Child Benefit—this year we will see a reduction of about 40 per cent in Canada's overall child poverty rate, compared with 2014.

About 300,000 children will be lifted out of poverty by this measure alone.

We did all of this because we know that when you give citizens the tools they need to succeed, they will.

This is why we are using Canada's strong fiscal advantage to invest in the things that matter to people.

This includes historic, new investments in infrastructure, including public transit, green and social infrastructure, as well as the roads, tunnels and bridges that are so vital to trade and commerce.

These investments will create good, well-paying jobs for Canada's middle class now, and in the future.

They will also deliver cleaner air and water, and create thriving communities.

In addition, the Government of Canada is tackling the barriers that have prevented vulnerable people in our society from getting ahead—particularly Indigenous peoples.

Because to truly be successful, every Canadian needs to have a real and fair chance at success.

In just a few days—on March 22—I will be delivering my second federal budget.

I will be confirming that Canada plans to continue doing what confident, optimistic countries do—invest in our people, our communities and our economy.

I will also be taking steps to create a culture of lifelong learning, helping people develop the skills they need at every stage of their life to succeed in the new economy.

But we can't do it alone.

I believe the international community needs to focus on three priorities:

  • First, we need to grow the economic pie. And the keys to growth include strategic investments in areas like infrastructure and innovation. We need to create partnerships with the private sector so that we can be even more ambitious, supported by open and fair trade, and a stable financial sector.
  • Second, we need to better share our success with others, by implementing policies that ensure that the benefits of economic integration benefit the majority of our citizens—the middle class—rather than the wealthiest.
  • Finally, we need legitimate and strong international institutions to help coordinate global responses to the great challenges of our times: climate change, technology, conflict and migration. We need to play by a common set of rules that are fair, enforceable and applied equally to all.

This principle of equality and fairness also applies to another area that is of critical importance to the G20, and that is the issue of tax fairness, closing loopholes and fighting international tax evasion.

This is an issue Canada takes very seriously and is working hard to address in collaboration with the G20 and other countries around the world, so that we can bring tax fairness to our middle class.

Before I conclude, I want to leave you with a final thought.

Historically, countries have helped one another succeed by building on what we share in common. That is: we all want a better life for our citizens.

Today, we share the responsibility of showing our people how working in partnership can bring real benefits, especially to those who may be struggling.

Through partnership we can drive investment and create new opportunities for people.

But our partnerships also need to bring assurance to people who are worried about their children's futures.

Because those same people will be supportive if they can see how, together, we can create better jobs and make their lives more affordable—more liveable. 

Canada can be counted on to be a reliable and trustworthy partner in facing our collective, global challenges together.

But we need all hands on deck.

To echo Prime Minister Trudeau's challenge, please do not let the tremendous ideas and talents you bring with you to this forum remain within its walls.

Reach out to your citizens. Listen to their concerns. And show them that their government will act on their behalf and in their best interest, as the world transitions to the new economy of tomorrow.

Thank you and I look forward to our discussion.


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