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Make Montréal the home of the Canada Infrastructure Bank

Letter addressed to the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Bill Morneau, co-signed by Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, and a business collective, and published in La Presse+. List of signatories follows.

 

Dear Minister,

We applaud your government’s decision to create the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), and we reiterate our support for this initiative. We believe it is an essential additional tool to ensure the funds are available for major, strategic projects for Canada.

We believe that Montréal is the perfect Canadian city to be home to the CIB. Its economic ecosystem contains the expertise needed to get this new institution off the ground quickly and make it an international model for best practices. Montréal clearly has what it takes to be the national centre of infrastructure excellence.

Take advantage of CDPQ Infra’s location to strengthen the Canada Infrastructure Bank

Plans for the CIB were inspired by the innovative approach developed by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), which recently created a subsidiary, CDPQ Infra. The CDPQ has built singular expertise in Canada in financing and developing major transportation infrastructures. We need only to think of its flagship project, the Réseau électrique métropolitain (REM), and other projects it has been responsible for, such as the Canada Line, the Heathrow Express and the Gatwick Express. Having the CIB and the CDPQ in the same city would make it possible to benefit directly from this expertise and harness the potential for synergy.

Engineering expertise concentrated in Montréal

Montréal is the leading centre of infrastructure expertise in Canada, because of its major engineering firms, like SNC-Lavalin and WSP, and universities. The city’s pool of expertise would allow the CIB to become operational quickly and achieve its objective of attracting top talent to make it a world-class centre in infrastructure. A number of large corporations involved in major infrastructure projects have their head offices in Montréal, such as VIA Rail, CN, Hydro-Québec, ADM, the Port of Montreal, Bombardier Transportation and Bombardier Aerospace.

The city is also the university capital of Canada with 11 schools, several of which have respected specializations in engineering-related disciplines (ÉTS, Polytechnique Montréal, Concordia, McGill and INRS), as well as in finance, economics, big data, artificial intelligence and public administration (Université de Montréal, ENAP, HEC Montréal, ESG-UQAM).

We should also note that the talented professionals concentrated in Greater Montréal are bilingual, which is an asset for serving Canada and attracting potential investors and partners, particularly since the signature of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Strengthen Canada’s second largest city

We believe that Canada as a whole would gain from consolidating the country’s second leading financial centre. Over the years, Montréal’s financial sector has lost ground to Toronto. The sector is now experiencing something of a revival, with the advent of FinTech and the vitality of institutions such as the CDPQ. The federal government could contribute to this revival by locating the CIB in Montréal.

The government’s plan also assumes that trade infrastructure is strategic and a priority. Montréal is already a hub for transportation and logistics in Canada and North America. While the signature of the Trans-Pacific Partnership seems less likely, the confirmed entry into effect of the CETA will help reinforce the city’s strategic position and increase the quality of merchandise that passes through it. By strengthening the second largest city, Canada as a whole will win.

The Prime Minister’s mark on his city

Massive infrastructure investment is a flagship initiative of the federal government. While globally, most governments were introducing some form of austerity, the Prime Minister made the visionary decision to stimulate growth through structuring investments, even though this means running a short-term deficit. This decision now defines the “Canadian approach” and has become an international model. The creation of the CIB is one of the main drivers of this strategy, making it the most important symbol of this major initiative. Establishing the CIB in Montréal is a unique opportunity for the Prime Minister to leave the mark of this vision on his city.

To ensure the success of this structuring centre of expertise that will be behind major infrastructure ventures in Canada, we ask the government to make Montréal the home of the CIB. Rest assured that you have the full cooperation of the Montréal business community for this effort.

Signatories:
Mario Albert, Chief Executive Officer, Finance Montréal; Raymond Bachand, Strategic Advisor, Norton Rose Fulbright; André Bourret, Acting Director General, École nationale d’administration publique (ENAP); Pierre Dumouchel, Director General, École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS); Guy Breton, Rector, Université de Montréal; Yvon Charest, President and Chief Executive Officer, iA Financial Group; James Cherry, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aéroports de Montréal; Guy Cormier, President and Chief Executive Officer, Desjardins Group; Pierre Dion, President and Chief Executive Officer,
Quebecor and Quebecor Media; Shahir Guindi, Managing Partner, Montréal, Osler;
Anne-Marie Hubert, Québec Managing Partner, EY; Luc Jobin, President and Chief Executive Officer, CN; Michel Leblanc, President and CEO, Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal; Monique F. Leroux, Chair of the Board, Investissement Québec; Éric Martel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hydro-Québec; Erik J. Ryan, Executive Vice-President, Marketing, Strategy and External Relations, SNC-Lavalin; Claude Séguin,
Chairman of the Board, Finance Montréal; Jean St-Gelais, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, La Capitale Civil Service Mutual and La Capitale Financial Group  Inc.; Alan Shepard, President and Vice-Chancellor, Concordia University

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