In a January address to the World Economic Forum, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that he wants Canada and Canadians to be known as much for our resourcefulness as for our resources. We agree.
Our natural resources are important. They will continue to be a cornerstone of our economy. But resourcefulness, talent and diversity are natural resources, too, and equally critical to our growth and success. Most of these resources reside in our biggest cities, which are home to 49 per cent of our population and generate 52 per cent of our gross domestic product.
In the 21st century, it’s cities and city-regions that will be the primary drivers of the global and Canadian economies. While competition and growth was once country versus country, or corporation versus corporation, in today’s globally interconnected economy, it’s city versus city.
Around the world, cities are taking action on the opportunities globalization presents. London, New York, Hong Kong and Dubai are globally renowned centres of innovation, migration, culture, wealth and commerce. They are global actors, competing for investment, talent, global events and trade opportunities.
In many respects, cities are like businesses – they need to compete, prosper and grow, or risk getting disrupted by others with more to offer talent and investors. We must make sure our largest metros flourish to win – a case increasingly being made by academics and global think tanks.
In many respects, Canada’s largest cities are where our greatest challenges and opportunities lie. Unfortunately, we have been slower to recognize the importance of our largest cities and to take the necessary steps to compete on the global stage.
If the 21st century is to be the age of cities, then Canada’s cities must be present. In many respects, it is Canada’s time. We have all the potential and natural resourcefulness to succeed – we just need the initiative to get there.
Contributors to this article included
Jan De Silva, CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade
Adam Legge, CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce
Michel Leblanc, CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal;
Ian Faris, CEO of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce;
Dave Angus, CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce;
Janet Riopel, CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce;
Iain Black, CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade;
Todd Letts, CEO of the Brampton Board of Trade
In response to the Global Cities Initiative, the Toronto Region Board of Trade launched a trade accelerator program to help more businesses access global markets.