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We want the world's best engineers, says Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau

He says Canada values diversity in science and engineering, is investing $125 mn in its strategy for artificial intelligence research and talent, and plans to make the visa process easier
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   04-04-2017
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau posted this picture of himself to Quora, in response to the question
“Can you post a picture as proof that you are answering these questions yourself?”

Responding to a series of questions on Quora, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday highlighted his government’s commitment to diversity in scientific research and engineering.

In response to the question “Why should the best engineers in the world come to Canada?” Mr Trudeau wrote, “We know that one of the great drivers of innovation and creativity, particularly when it comes to problem-solving (which I know engineers love), is diversity. Having a group of smart, capable people focus on the same problem from a range of different perspectives, backgrounds and lived experiences is much more likely to come up with great answers than a homogeneous group would.”

He noted that the University of Waterloo was the top recruiting spot for Silicon Valley, and that this was due in part to “the incredible multiculturalism of its graduates, and not just for the high quality of education”. He added that multiculturalism was a strength shared by Canadian schools and institutions.

File photo of Bill Gates at the University of Waterloo, Canada (image by Mohammad Jangda, used under CC license)

Canada wanted to encourage that actively, he said, by reaching out beyond its borders. He wrote: “Our global talent stream will facilitate two-week work permit processing time, so companies in Canada will be able to bring in highly-skilled international workers, including engineers, quickly and efficiently. It will give employers a faster and more predictable process for bringing in top talent and new skills to Canada. We want to help high-growth companies bring in the talent they need quickly by slashing the processing time for a Canada visa application from six months to just 10 business days.”

The prime minister said his government was committed to “evidence-based policy” and respecting academic freedom, while making the necessary investments in pure and applied science. “For example, we have more STEM graduates every year in the province of Ontario than in the entire state of California,” he noted.

In response to the question “What is your stance on AI research given Canada's privileged position in the field?” Mr Trudeau said he had been personally fascinated by AI ever since high school, when he read books such as Roger Penrose’s Emperor’s New Mind and Douglas Hofstadter’s The Mind’s I. “So it’s really exciting for me to be able to encourage Canadian leadership in the field today,” he added.

He noted that strong public support for research programs and world-class expertise at Canadian universities had helped propel Canada to a position as leader in artificial intelligence and deep learning research and use. “Canadian talent and ideas are in high demand around the world—but activity needs to remain in Canada to harness the benefits from artificial intelligence,” he said. “So to retain and attract top academic talent, and to increase the number of postgraduate trainees and researchers studying artificial intelligence and deep learning, our latest budget proposes to provide $125 million to launch a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy for research and talent.”

The strategy would promote collaboration between Canada’s main centres of expertise in Montréal, Toronto-Waterloo and Edmonton, he said, and would position Canada as a world-leading destination for companies seeking to invest in artificial intelligence and innovation. “A leader in the area of artificial intelligence, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research will be responsible for administering the funding for the new Strategy,” he added.

The original responses by Mr Trudeau can be found here and here.

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