Politics

'We could be doing even more': Business leaders meet with PM ahead of economic update

The industrial conglomerate Siemens would invest more in Canada if the federal government lowered its corporate tax rate, the head of the company's Canadian operations said Monday after a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Chief Executive Officer of Siemens USA Barbara Humpton and Siemens Canada chief executive Faisal Kazi, left, Monday, November 5, 2018 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The industrial conglomerate Siemens would invest more in Canada if the federal government lowered its corporate tax rate, the head of the company's Canadian operations said Monday after a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Siemens Canada's president and CEO Faisal Kazi said while his company would welcome lower taxes, Canada remains an attractive investment location due to its talent pool and the government's ongoing investments in innovation.

"Of course we can invest more if the tax structure was more attractive (in Canada)," Kazi said. "We would be doing even more."

Kazi and Siemens USA CEO Barbara Humpton met with Trudeau Monday afternoon during the Most Powerful Women International Summit, hosted by Fortune magazine.

Following a major tax reform in the United States, Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau have been under pressure to respond in order to keep Canada competitive.

Morneau intends to announce policies to bolster Canada's competitiveness in his Nov. 21 fall economic update.

Humpton said her company is interested by the government's $950-million "supercluster" program and its investments in artificial intelligence.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains announced last February five technology groups that would share up to $950 million in federal funding to bring together business, academic institutions and other non-profits to create clusters of innovation across the country.

Trudeau also met Monday with Isabelle Marcoux, chair of the board of printer Transcontinental Inc., who said they talked about increasing the role of women in business and additional government help for print journalism.

A lot of progress has been made in government, Marcoux said, but "much more" needs to be done to increase the number of women on the boards of Canadian companies.

She said she is doing her part to build a pool of women executives who will become eligible for prominent roles in corporations.

"Canadian companies have a responsibility to build that pipeline," she said.

Marcoux said she also pressed Trudeau on the need for his government to spend more on helping local newspapers through difficult times.

Her company, which used to own many newspapers across the country, sold all but one and divested from all its magazines, she said.

"We are a printer, and we see that our clients — especially the local press — are suffering."

Ottawa promised $50 million over five years to help local journalism in its 2018 budget.

"I think it was not enough," Marcoux said. "And it's a little complicated to have access to those funds."

Trudeau is scheduled to address the conference Monday evening.

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