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Interview with Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton

ICBA meets Richard Bruton

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, recently spent a number of days in Canada as part of the Government’s 2019 St Patrick’s Day Programme.

The agenda was a mix of culture, business and politics, taking in visits to significant historical sites like Ireland Park, and meetings with political figures like Omar Alghabra, MP and Environment and Climate Change Minister, Catherine McKenna. The Minister also switched on the green lights at Niagara Falls for St Patrick’s Day.

Minister Bruton sat down with the ICBA on his return and spoke in detail about the visit in a ten-minute interview which you can listen to below.

 

We’ve also pulled out some of the highlights which you will find below in lightly-transcribed excerpts.

Meeting Omar Alghabra MP, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of International Trade Diversification

Omar Alghabra

Omar Alghabra MP, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of International Trade Diversification

Canada is faced with a very similar challenge as Ireland post-Brexit. We see our largest neighbour possibly putting significant trade barriers in our way. Canada has suddenly realised also that it's 75 percent dependent on the US market and that it's not a market that is quite as guaranteed as it was. So, it was very interesting to exchange thoughts on what Canada is doing with its trade commission to support Canadian businesses internationalizing.

We had meetings with a number of Irish companies there, the common thread was Data Analytics and Financial Technologies and they had developed very good opportunities in Canada solving key problems for Canadian companies. So, it was very interesting to see that on both sides you’re seeing the evolution of new ideas, innovative companies spreading their wings by trading in one another’s markets. At a time when a lot of people talk about protectionism, it’s really exciting to see companies carving out a niche and diversifying and benefiting, and mutual gain - a win-win situation.

Encouraging further Canadian investment in Ireland

There's been a huge expansion in recent years of Canadian investment in Ireland, and it's something that we want to encourage. I attended a business breakfast where very high on the agenda was the changing relationship as a result of Britain exiting the European Union and Ireland being the last common law English-speaking country which is a member of the European Union, and there's no doubt that people in Canada will be looking at Ireland in a fresh light in that respect. So, we have forty very important IDA investors already who have invested in Ireland and we would like to see others follow.

Meeting with Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna – carbon taxes and rebates

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

It was very interesting to get an insight into what Canada is doing [in the area of Carbon taxes] - they have been pioneers of the idea that we should have a carbon tax with the money refunded. They are proposing that ninety percent of the revenue raised would be returned in a dividend and ten percent would be used for climate action. So, it is very much the idea that the purpose of a carbon tax isn't to raise funds but rather to encourage people to switch the way they behave in their own home and move away from high-carbon ways of living.

They've run into some difficulties because Canada has very independent-minded provinces, and so the relationship between a federal initiative and implementation in the provinces can be fraught. So, there is some pushback in some provinces against these measures and that is a very significant challenge that it is being worked through. I’m not going to comment on domestic politics in Canada, but it does show that anything in this area is a challenge because you're trying to encourage people to change the way they're used to living. And in significant states with either a significant shift in the political climate are indeed very strong interests in oil or the like, that poses greater problems.

They also are looking at this concept of transition and how they would manage, and have been managing, particular sectors that are very badly affected by transition. So, for example, they have committed in some provinces to get out of coal altogether and that obviously has had an impact on some traditional coal mining and coal-dependent areas. So, it was again interesting to see what they're doing in that area.

What can Ireland learn about implementing or increasing carbon taxes from the Canadian model?  

I think the dividend idea is one that is very attractive. The idea that it's clear to the public that when you're raising a tax it isn't a question of trying to raise revenue or putting barriers in the way of people, it's trying to change behaviour for the long term. So, if you receive a cheque in the post, as they are proposing, then that makes it easier for people to accept that this is a good measure.

I think always the problem in relation to climate is people, at a certain part of their brain, accept that it's a good thing, but to make it possible for them to move on from that, to switch to an electric vehicle or to insulate their home or to change to a heat pump, these things are harder steps and so it is important that you get momentum and get citizens engaged. And I think changing the way the tax is perceived is a really important part of that.

Minister Bruton switched on the green lights at Niagara Falls for St Patrick’s Day

Minister Bruton switched on the green lights at Niagara Falls for St Patrick’s Day

How the Irish government is helping Canadian multinationals to grow  

What Ireland did after the crash was rebuild our economy based on enterprise, innovation, and exporting, and that was founded on a very competitive base. And while, yes, as we approach fuller employment there are some pressure points, we currently have the highest productivity growth in Europe, and we're seeing companies do really well competing in the export markets.

The Government is acutely conscious of the need to improve our skill base. We are already the country with the highest third level participation, the highest number of graduates in STEM subjects, we have a very good regime for people who want to take workers in either from the rest of Europe or indeed from further afield to meet a particular skills shortage. So, we have equipped our economy to be sensitive to the needs of international investors both on the skills front and on the tax front, and we are very competitive in many ways.

We have just published a €120bn infrastructural plan where we're planning to roll out the infrastructures that will sustain the progress we're making, and we've identified key areas where there is tightness - housing being a major one, transport of course, and other social areas like health and education. So, I think we have a very strong strategy to continue to be an internationally competitive country, the government is acutely conscious of the needs of multinationals who are trading partners for us and we want to encourage that growth.

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In Profile: Ireland-Canada Chambers of Commerce Vancouver

Vancouver Chamber of CommerceVancouver Chamber Lar Quigley

For the first in our series of ICCC profiles, we’re joined by Lar Quigley, President of the Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce Vancouver (ICCCVan).

Describe ICCCVan’s genesis and mission

The founding members recognised there was limited support and networking opportunities for the growing Irish community here in the city and sought to address this by establishing a formal chamber.

The Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce Vancouver (ICCCVan) was subsequently incorporated in late 2017. Initially we had three board members and have since expanded to ten with an all island approach and mandated gender balance.

We support our members by providing them opportunities to hear from senior leaders in the community as well as participate through networking events, roundtables and educational sessions.

ICCCVan maintains close links with our sister chapters across Canada, as well as the Irish Embassy in Ottawa.

Tell us a bit about your membership

We have so many amazing members here at the Chamber, but some interesting entrepreneurial ones have come from Bia Foods (Siobhan Young) and Donnellan’s (William Donnellan) whom both spotted opportunities to better serve the Irish community and have grown impressively in the food and hospitality sectors over the years.
From a general overview, our member’s industry breakdown is reflective of the economy here in the province with remainder mostly composing of professional services.

• 30% Technology
• 25% Natural Resources
• 15% Construction/Engineering

Can you point to an example of a member that started out very small and has grown successfully in Vancouver?

Moving2Canada.com is a great example. Since launching in 2012 by Ruairi Spillane, the website has been a one-stop shop for free impartial information and resources to make the transition to Canada enjoyable and simple for prospective immigrants and the recently arrived.

They offer job postings, a ‘getting started’ guide’ and articles covering every step of the journey. Their social forums service thousands of community members.

Ruairi’s accomplishments were recognized on a broader scaler recently when he took home the Immigrant Entrepreneur at the Small BC Business Awards here in Vancouver. Ruairi recently launched Moving2Ireland.com with the idea of bringing the same concept to help both new immigrants to Ireland and returning emigrants.

What brought you to Vancouver?

I had made the decision to leave Ireland when I saw some of the early signs of the recession in 2008 and on a whim applied for a Canadian working holiday visa.

I had visited Ontario/Quebec on a vacation in 2006 so that had planted some seeds and gave me a sense of what to expect from a cultural perspective.

Toronto was my original focus as it’s the country’s financial hub and I had a background in treasury banking from Dublin. It was my mother who randomly recommended Vancouver, she had been here at a conference in the 80s and so I opted to start here – ten years later I’m living two blocks from where I started.

What advice would you give to an Irish company starting to do business in Vancouver?

Vancouverites value relationships and the city has a village like feel to it with a compact downtown core. The work style, whilst focused, is more laid back than you’ll find in Dublin and this is driven by having such easy access to the mountains and beaches in the city.

Why Vancouver? Top three things that make this city so great.

Vancouver is Canada’s fasted growing and most diverse metropolitan economy. There are significant opportunities for growth and development in the region. British Columbia has a long history of pioneering technological innovation and has a world class creative and digital media sector.

From a top three perspective:

1. Most liveable and healthiest city in North American.
2. Number 5 on KPMG’s most tax competitive world cities
3. Canada’s number one start-up ecosystem

Anything else you would like to add?

We’re excited to build on our launch momentum to host an upcoming ministerial visit (Ciaran Canon) for the St Patrick’s week festivities.

A special note of thanks to our friends at the Embassy in Ottawa and the new Consulate team here in Vancouver for all their invaluable support.

Minister Heather Humphreys speaks at ICBA Trade Briefing

The Ireland-Canada relationship is one that I know the ICBA works hard at fostering and supporting through your membership and events such as today’s.

ICBA also collaborates with a wide range of key stakeholders, such as the Chamber network in Canada, and indeed with the agencies under the remit of my Department, such as Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland.

As Minister, my department and agencies are supportive of the activities of the Association and applaud your ongoing efforts to build partnerships between the vibrant business communities in Ireland and Canada.

Read the full speech

Teknicor Announces Expansion into Ireland

Teknicor, ICBA Patron Member is a leading provider of data center infrastructure, data protection and managed cloud solutions, has announced their expansion into the UK and Ireland. Their international presence now consists of offices in Toronto, Boston, London, Dublin and San Juan.

A recipient of numerous Dell EMC partner of the year awards (2014 to 2017), Teknicor has experienced tremendous growth in the US and Canada since their founding more than a decade ago. This growth has been driven by a relentless focus on helping clients reduce risk, complexity and cost while increasing agility through best-of-breed technology. Teknicor has established a reputation for unmatched, end-to-end execution, reflected in industry-leading customer satisfaction, customer reference and employee retention rates.

“We’re entering the EMEA market in close partnership with our best-of-breed partner, Dell EMC”, notes CEO Alan Fullerton. “There’s a pent up demand for the tightly aligned solution we offer together and an immediate opportunity to leverage Teknicor’s specialized teams in data protection (across all industries) and healthcare. We’re seeing a lot of interest in managed cloud solutions, especially from healthcare providers looking to host HIS applications.”

Teknicor’s rapid growth has been carefully managed alongside a continuous investment in resources and capabilities. Mr. Fullerton emphasizes that “We only expand into new markets when we’re absolutely sure that we’ve made the significant investments necessary in all of the regions we serve. This breadth and depth of investment is vital to the execution excellence our clients have come to expect for their domestic and global operations.”

Teknicor is particularly impressed with the business environment, talent pool and efforts of the IDA in Ireland and is looking to employ 70-100 engineers in its Dublin office over the next three years.

IDA opens new Canada Office in Toronto

IDA Ireland has announced the opening of a new Canada Office in Toronto.

Further evidence of trade relations between our two countries continues to increase.

IDA Ireland End of Year Results 2017

IDA Ireland

PressReader Opens New Offices

ICBA Member, Canadian company PressReader officially opened its new offices in Dublin on 16th November and will continue to grow its Irish workforce to 65.

PressReader is a global platform that allows people to read, share and talk about stories from over 7,000 top-quality publications online or via an app. It has seven million monthly active users worldwide. (more…)

New Irish Consulate in Vancouver

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., announced today that Ireland will open a new Irish Consulate in Vancouver to serve Western Canada.

This marks the first expansion of Ireland’s residential diplomatic presence in Canada since the opening of the original Mission in Ottawa in 1939. (more…)

Ireland Canada Business Association responds to Brexit

Speaking following the result of the Brexit referendum in the UK, Garrett Monaghan, Chair of the Ireland Canada Business Association, stated:

Garrett Monaghan, ICBA Chair"The UK electorate’s democratic vote to leave the EU is a decision that will have inevitable consequences and implications for Ireland’s trading relationship with the UK and Canada. Although the pace at which the UK initiates and completes political negotiations remains to be seen, we believe Ireland will regardless continue to prioritise  growth, stability and certainty with the UK.  The ICBA believes and fully expects that Irish business and Government agencies have a common interest in working together to preserve and enhance Ireland’s critical historic, political and cultural ties with the UK.

Ireland’s role and offering to Canadian and international companies as a gateway to the EU single market remains unchanged. Ireland’s hard won and well-established reputation for winning and maintaining  foreign direct  investment will be critically important in the coming months once the terms of Brexit become clearer."

The strong trade relationship between Ireland and Canada is reflected in the impressive €2.75 billion of annual trade between Ireland and Canada in 2015. This includes fast-growing exports by innovative Irish companies to Canada and major Canadian investments in Ireland. The forthcoming implementation of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada will further bolster the potential for trade between Ireland and Canada. As Canada’s nearest neighbour to the EU, CETA presents Ireland with substantial opportunity to take the initiative in working with Canadian, international and domestic companies on significantly liberalised cross Atlantic trade. While indigenous Irish company exports to Canada have grown by over 250% in the last five years and currently stand at €185 million, it has been predicted that CETA will result in a €250m increase in Irish exports per annum.

The ICBA is committed to assisting our members in their bilateral investment and trade between Canada and Ireland . The ICBA has worked over the last 40 years to promote member views and protect their transatlantic businesses.

Shell sells its 45% stake in Corrib Gas Field

Shell has sold its 45 per cent stake in the Corrib gas field to a unit of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

Energy giant Shell has sold its 45 per cent stake in the Corrib gas field to a unit of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) in a deal worth as little as $947 million (€830 million), resulting in about a billion euro of losses following a decade-and-a-half of heavy investment in the controversial project. (more…)