Justin Trudeau calls Waterloo Region 'extraordinary hub' for innovation
Prime minister says region hosts 'innovation at the cutting edge of the global economy'
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received a tour of Google's new Canadian headquarters Thursday in Kitchener, Ont., and praised the region as an "extraordinary hub" for innovation "at the cutting edge of the global economy."
Speaking at a news conference, the prime minister stressed the need for "good, innovative jobs" and praised the region for becoming a hub for companies such as Google and BlackBerry.
We need a government that bets on Canada, that invests in Canada.- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Trudeau, who referred to himself a "geek prime minister" that was "half-way decent as a coder," said there is "just so much to see" at the high-tech 185,000-square-foot space.
Google Canada managing director Sam Sebastian said the company's investment in Canada is "for the long term."
The property will be the home of Google Canada's national development team and eventually include 350 engineers. The innovation centre is located in Kitchener's landmark Breithaupt Block, a former rubber manufacturing facility originally built in 1902 that takes up a full city block.
The news conference was also an opportunity for Trudeau to touch on a number of issues, including the economy. The prime minister said despite challenges in Canada due to low commodity prices, "we also know that there are tremendous bright spots," referencing the tech hub in Kitchener.
"We're still looking at growth," he said. "It's not as strong as we like."
'Unique ecosystem in Kitchener'
The company said the unveiling would provide a showcase for Trudeau to see its virtual reality technology, which was built in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, as well as other locally made products.
"I'm really excited about where we're going and how we're going to get there together," he told reporters before being presented with gifts including a framed caricature.
"We need a government that bets on Canada, that invests in Canada," the prime minister said, expressing optimism about the country's future prospects.
Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said in a statement that Trudeau's visit showed the confidence higher levels of government have in the region.
"There is a unique ecosystem in Kitchener that allows innovators and entrepreneurs to connect, grow and build success together," Vrbanovic continued. "There is no doubt that Google's expansion in Kitchener will further develop that ecosystem to ensure that any company — large or small — can make it in Kitchener."
The mayor also reinforced the importance of implementing two-way, all-day GO Transit train service in southern Ontario "to attract and retain knowledge workers, and allow private sector organizations along Canada's innovation corridor to compete in the global economy."
The prime minister was at the University of Waterloo earlier Thursday and also made a stop in Toronto Wednesday.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/google">@google</a> says nearly 60% of its employees at the new office are <a href="https://twitter.com/UWaterloo">@UWaterloo</a> grads. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/kw?src=hash">#kw</a>—@amandamgrant
Time for a 3D selfie for <a href="https://twitter.com/JustinTrudeau">@JustinTrudeau</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/google">@google</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/kw?src=hash">#kw</a> <a href="https://t.co/Ujbr4PsEb4">pic.twitter.com/Ujbr4PsEb4</a>—@amandamgrant
- An earlier version of this story, citing a company news release, said the first Google office in Waterloo Region was in Kitchener, Ont. In fact, the office was in Waterloo.Jan 14, 2016 1:48 PM ET