Speaking Notes for the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, to address the World Strategic Forum


Miami, Florida
April 20, 2017

Check against delivery

Good morning everyone.

I am proud to be here, in Miami, at such an important forum with such great leaders.

The themes of today are Energy, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development. These are right up my alley and top priorities for the Government of Canada.

I think we can all agree, at the outset, that development has to be sustainable.

Some of you may know I had the privilege of flying into space in my previous career. My experience gave me a unique perspective on what we do here on Earth.  From space, it is Earth’s extraordinary beauty and unity that you see. There are no borders. The geopolitical lines that divide us so often have all disappeared. All you see is our beautiful blue planet.

All of us here today, from our various nations, understand the fragility of this planet. 

Our nations, individually and collectively, have said that we need a new way forward, one that will see science and technology advance all our economies without jeopardizing the environment we all inhabit.

This is particularly important for me and my government.

We’ve come to a point where we recognize that our resources are not inexhaustible, and that our environment can’t necessarily renew itself without our help.

We need to think ahead and anticipate needs. We need to deal with challenges before they become crises.

Let’s look at infrastructure.

Much of our infrastructure is outdated and under stress. To achieve sustainable development, we will need to make substantial new investments.

And since there are types of infrastructure that only governments can create, governments must take the lead.

Good infrastructure can support trade and economic growth.

And good infrastructure can protect our environment.

Economic growth and environmental protection can, and must, co-exist.

Canada’s transportation system, like transportation systems everywhere, is the lifeblood of our economy. It carries people and goods within the country and out to the world.

But the transportation of people or the shipping of products to the world must be done efficiently, and with care to balance growth with protection of the environment.

Transportation accounts for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada and my department is therefore deeply involved in efforts to find cleaner, greener options across all modes of transport.

Just a few things that we are looking at include major investments in public transit, emission reduction requirements for different modes of transport, the use of alternative and renewable fuels and more fuel-efficient connected and automated vehicles.

The Government of Canada is committed to investing in our transportation sector to make it cleaner, more efficient and more environmentally responsible.

And the Government delivered on this commitment by launching the Oceans Protection Plan in November 2016.

This world-leading marine safety system meets the unique needs of our country. Canada has more coastline than any other country in the world. Our three coasts are iconic elements of our national identity and support the livelihood of many shoreline communities.

The Oceans Protection Plan aims to ensure that our coasts are protected in a modern way that allows for environmental sustainability, safe and responsible commercial use, and collaboration with coastal and Indigenous communities.

I would like to spend a little time on Canada‘s approach to renewing its infrastructure, and show how important it is to helping us achieve our ambitious environmental goals.

Major infrastructure projects are expensive. And they take time.

The Government of Canada has chosen to take a long-term view of our infrastructure development.

We know that investments in infrastructure will make our country more economically competitive, and create more jobs for the middle class.

We know that investments in infrastructure will also make it possible to protect and preserve our environment and enhance our quality of life.

That is why we have adopted a long-term strategic plan to build up our country.

We intend to invest more than 134 billion US dollars (180 billion Canadian) in infrastructure over 12 years.  This financial commitment by the Canadian government is over and above the billions of dollars in investments being made by other levels of government and the private sector.

By the way, Canada’s public procurement market, which was worth more than $10 billion US in 2015, is open to U.S. suppliers.

Canada’s open market access has allowed U.S. suppliers such as North American Steel, Microsoft, Anchor QEA, 3M Cogent, Perceptics, Rapiscan System, Norseman Structures, and others to win significant Canadian contracts.

Where will the money go?

Canada is a vast country, in fact, the second largest on Earth, with more than 44,000 kilometres of rail track and over 1.3 million kilometres of public road.

We have a wide range of needs: resource development, public transit, urban infrastructure, seamless border crossings and infrastructure on our coasts to support maritime trade.

All these needs are important, to varying degrees, across the country. Canada is a trading nation that must transport goods over long distances to reach international markets.

In the transportation sector, we will be investing in infrastructure projects that keep people and goods moving efficiently and reliably – through gateways and along the trade corridors that span the wide expanse of our country.

Canada’s expanding trade relationships are placing increasing pressure on our existing transportation networks and supply chains. And that puts a premium on efficiency and reliability.

Efficiency is crucial because the modern economy demands that goods get where they’re going at the lowest possible cost.

Reliability is crucial because delays and disruptions due to bottlenecks and congestion undermine our reputation and result in our customers looking elsewhere for goods. And we know they have choices.

That’s why the Government of Canada’s Budget for 2017 proposes a new National Trade Corridors Fund.

This fund will address urgent capacity constraints and freight bottlenecks at major ports of entry, and connect rail and highway infrastructure.

I’ll give you an example of how critical these trade corridors can be.

Thirty thousand trucks and two billion dollars in trade move every single day between Canada and the United States – and more than a quarter of that trade moves between Windsor and Detroit. It is the site of the busiest land border crossing in Canada. Now just imagine if something went wrong with it!

We should be clear about this: Any measures that thicken the border and impede trade will result in more red tape and needless regulation, and ultimately higher costs for American businesses. That could delay projects, resulting in lost jobs and opportunities for American workers.

I recently met with the new US Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, who is also responsible for infrastructure.

I told her how much we value our trading relationship with the US, and we talked about the importance of trade corridors like Windsor-Detroit.

I’ve talked about what we’ll be doing as a government. Now, let me take a few minutes to discuss the “how.”

There will always be infrastructure that can only be built by governments – and only with public money. We embrace that responsibility.

Much of our infrastructure funding in the future will be delivered through public contributions, cost-shared with other levels of government and the private sector.

But there are some projects where there is the potential for even greater private-sector participation.

Traditional public-private partnership models have been very successful over the years.

And we believe there is an opportunity for the federal government to pull in more private sector investment in infrastructure through loans, loan guarantees and equity participation.

Toward that end, our government is creating the Canada Infrastructure Bank. The Bank will make it easier for Canadian provinces, territories, and municipalities to undertake large, transformational infrastructure projects.

By using private capital to build those big new projects, we will free up public money to build more public infrastructure.

Many infrastructure projects will have no need to go to the Bank for funding. And we will not impose it on any of our partners. It is simply another tool they can use.

Much of the work we do on energy, infrastructure and sustainable development involves collaboration with the United States.  Our relationship with the United States is very important to us, on every level.

In fact, Canada and the US enjoy the longest, most peaceful, and mutually beneficial relationship of any two countries in the world.

Our friendship is based on common history, culture, a shared environment and shared values.

Our economies are also tightly linked.

In 2016, bilateral trade reached 635 billion US dollars, representing close to 2 billion American dollars’ worth of goods and services crossing the border every day.

Canada is the U.S.’ biggest customer - by far.

In 2016, Canadians imported 322 billion dollars worth of goods and services from the United States.

Moreover, for every dollar’s worth of goods Canada exports to the U.S., there are on average 25 cents' worth of U.S. inputs. So, when you buy Canadian products, you’re also buying American!

In 2016, Canada bought more goods and services from the U.S. than did China, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Canada is the largest supplier of all forms of energy to the United States, and our oil and gas pipelines and electricity grids are highly integrated.

In that sense, Canada plays an important role in U.S. energy security and in helping to achieve North American energy independence.

The Canada-U.S. energy relationship creates tens of thousands of jobs in both countries and thousands of American companies supply Canada’s energy industry. Our two nations have a shared interest in renewable energy.

In 2015, nearly one third of a trillion dollars was invested globally in renewable power - nearly 50 percent more than was invested in power from fossil fuels.

The U.S. saw record growth in solar installations in 2016, with solar leading as the number one source of new electricity capacity in the U.S.

And in Canada, more than 33 billion US dollars has been spent on renewable energy projects over the past five years.

I’m very pleased to say Canada and the United States have more than 150 federal, state and provincial bilateral arrangements concerning the protection of the environment.

And I look forward to seeing our two countries continue to build on decades of close cooperation on environmental issues.

To conclude, when it comes to infrastructure, governments must think ahead and anticipate needs, rather than simply reacting after gaps develop.

We must deal with challenges before they become crises.

The time to build infrastructure for a sustainable future is now.

So I’m very pleased that you have gathered to discuss these very important, very relevant, and very timely issues… and I look forward to hearing about the ideas that emerge at this forum.

Thank you.




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