Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative Announcement

Speech

Speaking Points

The Honourable Bardish Chagger, PC, MP
Minister of Small Business and Tourism and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Toronto, Ontario
December 18, 2017

Check Against Delivery

Thank you, Minister Bains. And welcome, everyone.

I want to begin by acknowledging that we are on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and, most recently, the territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you heard from Minister Bains, today is about the future.

In today’s economy, innovation is imperative. New technologies are constantly changing our understanding of the world around us.

Our government’s ambitious Innovation and Skills Plan is our response to this disruption.

We understand that we must make investments to ensure Canada continues to be a world-leading hub of innovation.

One important element of our plan is working with, and supporting, start-ups and small businesses.

They are often the ones that drive innovation, transform our economy and create well-paying middle-class jobs for the future.

In my role as Minister of Small Business and Tourism and also as the Member of Parliament for Waterloo, one of the most exciting aspects of my work is seeing these creative, passionate businesses owners invest blood, sweat and tears in growing their businesses.

Yet we know they need more support, especially at those early stages where having access to venture capital is critical.

That is why we are announcing this investment today, which was a Budget 2017 commitment.

We committed to investing $400 million.

Yet more importantly, we committed to working with partners in the private sector to leverage this investment to attract other investors.

We also did not want to simply reheat old ideas. We want to improve on past initiatives.

An important consideration we heard from Canadians was the need for diversity—diversity of ideas, perspectives, experiences and, yes, gender.

It is for that reason that we have set aside $50 million of our commitment specifically for what we call “innovative models.”

This fund will focus on supporting businesses that challenge conventional practices in the venture capital ecosystem.

This means specifically identifying women entrepreneurs and other under-represented groups in fund management teams, as well as emerging regions and sectors.

Beyond this unique fund, we will also ensure that all investments made through the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative will be assessed with an eye on enhancing diversity and addressing gender balance.

As we approach the end of 2017, these kinds of considerations are long overdue.

This is something our government—under the leadership of notable feminist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—is deeply committed to addressing.

And as the father of two brilliant daughters, I know this is also a personal priority for Minister Bains.

We want to see this fund create the best possible returns. Of course, this includes financial returns.

But we also must look beyond balance sheets and the benefits to society.

By focusing on strengthening diversity, we are working to encourage the Canadian venture capital industry to reconsider its models.

Canada has been fortunate recently.

And thanks to our work, its growth now leads the G7.

We have created close to 600,000 jobs since 2015.

However, we cannot be satisfied with this recent success.

As Prime Minister Trudeau reminds us: Better is always possible.

And if Canada is to continue setting an example for the world—as an economy and as a place where people from all over the world want to live—we must ensure all of us have the same opportunities to prosper and contribute.

Our government has committed to doubling the number of women-owned small businesses by 2025.

Considering that just 16 percent of businesses are either owned or run by women, this is not just an important social goal but also a critical economic one.

The Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative will play a key part in achieving this goal.

Today is just the beginning. I expect that we’ll be seeing the transformational results of these investments for years to come.

That’s pretty exciting and so important for our future growth and job creation.

Thank you.


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