Source: IIM Bangalore | January 14, 2015
Emphasizing Canada’s focus on fiscal rectitude and innovation, the zeal with which it advocates open markets and its concerted efforts to overcome skills mismatch, Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander wooed talented Indians, be they entrepreneurs or MBA graduates, in his hour-long talk at IIM Bangalore today.
“We want to pursue the value of immigration. We have carefully and deliberately reformed our immigration system,” he said, listing Canada’s Express Entry visa and the Start-Up visas for entrepreneurs as steps in that direction.
Inviting start-ups to be incubated in Canada, he said many Indian entrepreneurs had set up businesses last year and there were many projects in the pipeline from Bangalore this year. “You talk of Silicon Valley in our neighbor country, we we have Quantum Valley in our country where cutting-edge research happens.”
He spoke of his country’s focus on strategic investments, complemented by a relatively low tax business environment and openness to new markets had led them to go from just 5-6 free trade agreements a decade ago to free trade agreements with 49 countries now. “We want to move at the speed of business, not at the speed of bureaucracy,” he said, observing that India was the centerpiece of such partnerships. “Whether it is pharmaceuticals or medical research, life sciences or fields such as Ayurveda and yoga, India excites us,” declared the minister who arrived in the city after leading the Canadian delegation at the Vibrant Gujarat summit.
Delighted at the number of exchange partnerships that a management school such as IIM Bangalore has with top B-schools in Canada, he said: “We cannot grow without leadership, exchange and innovation.”
Describing immigration as the key factor for Canada’s growth, he said his country was keen to benefit from the talent and unique skills of people from anywhere in the world. He drew attention to the quality of life in Canada’s top cities and said: “A youngster looking to work in animation or video games or keen on a technology start-up will feel most at home in any of our cities. When I say we are welcoming, I don’t mean those huge welcome signs at the airport but the ways in which people treat you on the metro.”
Charting the course of Canada’s business environment from the 1960’s to now, he said the turning point had arrived when entrepreneurship and innovation were brought into government. “We repaid debt, we launched an ambitious plan for reducing taxes, we targeted tax relief for families, especially the middle class, and we put our on focus on fiscal discipline. That’s why though we were tested by the 2008 crisis, unlike our neighbor, our banks neither failed nor bailed out, unemployment did not spike and the real estate market did not tank.”
Stating that there was a lot of scope to “right size” Canada’s relationship with India through all the new immigration initiatives, he said: “We are in territory a little bigger than you – all right, so we are a lot colder than you – but we are just 35 million to your 1.2 billion. We want to benefit from your talent and your uniqueness,” he said.
Earlier in the afternoon, N Ravi, Career diplomat and Senior Fellow, IIM Bangalore, introduced the minister to the gathering.
The minister’s talk was followed by a Q&A session, where students and entrepreneurs in areas as diverse as transport and sports management sought information on Canada’s integration initiatives for immigrants.