Syrian refugees are ‘Canada’s economic future’

When Syrian refugees arrive in Toronto, Canada’s prime minister said he welcomes them not as asylum seekers but as citizens

Published: Updated:

When Syrian refugees arrive in Toronto, Canada’s prime minister welcomes them not as asylum seekers but as citizens, PM Justin Trudeau said at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

“I welcomed them as new Canadians and as the future of the Canadian economy. Diversity is the engine of investment; it generates creativity and enriches the world. We know this in Canada,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister noted that people respond to a positive and inclusive vision of society. “The result is creativity that enriches Canada and the world. It makes me profoundly optimistic and confident.”

Trudeau’s predecessor, Stephen Harper, wanted Canada to be known for its resources. “I want you to know Canadians for our resourcefulness,” Trudeau said. “We have a diverse and outstandingly creative population, great education and infrastructure, social and financial stability and a government [willing] to invest in the future. We have remarkable confidence. We believe in progress and we are willing to work hard to get there,” he said.

During his talk in Davos, Trudeau also warned that “new technology is always dazzling, but it needs to serve the cause of human progress.” He pointed out that technology will not determine our future, but “our choices and leadership” will.

“I believe in positive and ambitious leadership,” he said. “The Fourth Industrial Revolution will not be successful unless it creates opportunities for the billions who are unable to be here today.”

Canadian economy

Turning to Canada’s economy, the prime minister maintained that Canadians believe that the economy and the environment go together. “We are a resource-based economy and we believe this is a huge opportunity for us. The world needs to do both,” he said.

During his election campaign, Trudeau and his team made a strategic decision to present a positive vision: “We decided that, by presenting a positive vision, not only would we be able to get elected, we would have a strong and inclusive mandate to provide a government for Canadians. We wanted to bring forward what Canadians want to be, rather than what we are afraid of.”

Trudeau noted that it’s easy to get elected by playing up to divisions and negativity. “Once you get elected through dividing people, it become hard to govern,” he said. “The primary responsibility of any government is to keep its citizens safe, but also to keep them free and true to our values. Getting this balance right in a responsible way is what people are looking for.”

Over 2,500 leaders from business, government, international organizations, civil society, academia, media and the arts are participating in the 46th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on 20-23 January. Under the theme, Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the programme comprises over 300 sessions, of which over 100 sessions will be webcast live.