Dear CanInfra Attendee,
Thank you for attending the CanInfra Summit earlier this week! Our team was energized by the Ideas Contest teams, which as Minister of Finance Bill Morneau said provided us all the opportunity to think about “the great ideas that we need to make a long term impact in our country.”
We’ve also been debating and discussing the insights from the panels and breakouts, as well as the talks by Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister Morneau and Mayor Tory.
This will be a short recap email, with a longer summary of the Summit attached below. You can also see the teams’ punchy two-minute videos on CanInfra.ca. We’ll be posting their pitches and video from the panels soon as well as an e-book on CanInfra overall. A number of you have also expressed interest in talking to the teams further about their ideas, which we are happy to facilitate! If you have any questions, please contact us at CCF@bcg.com.
We would like to heartily thank the CanInfra sponsors who made all of the above possible: Brookfield Asset Management, Deloitte, RBC, CIBC and Torys LLP as well as The Boston Consulting Group’s Centre for Canada’s Future and our media partner The Globe and Mail.
And thanks to you all for supporting the Ideas Contest and participating in the Summit. Our original objective was to spark a national conversation on transformational infrastructure and surface some big ideas to move Canada forward. We moved ahead on these objectives this week, and look forward to continuing the conversation.
Director, BCG Centre for Canada's Future
The Summit opened at Monday night’s dinner with a keynote by Bill Morneau, Canada’s Minister of Finance. Minister Morneau shared his vision for infrastructure and the government’s program, and then congratulated the CanInfra teams. “It is these ideas that will help us decide what we need to do to make long term change in this country," he concluded.
David Walmsley of the Globe and Mail and Kilian Berz of BCG’s Centre for Canada’s Future opened Day 2 of the conference. They talked about how CanInfra could be a catalyst for ideas that could change Canada.
Toronto Mayor John Tory then delivered some energetic and entertaining remarks, covering his vision for the city’s infrastructure, including the need for transit, affordable housing and recreational space. “We have eighty to one hundred thousand people coming to Toronto every year, so doing nothing is not an option,” he said, adding that “Getting something done even if delayed or over budget is usually better than not getting things done.”
Then we had our Showcase Panel with Margaret Kenequanash of Watay Power, Kim Stangeby of GTAA and Rick Janega from Emera and the Maritime Link. It was illuminating to have leaders of major “real world” projects talk about their benefits and challenges. Margaret stressed the need to work closely with the people affected, and that building consensus takes time. Both Kim and Rick pointed out that you need to find common ground, with a business case that ensures multiple parties benefit.
The Digital Panel looked at the digital future for Canada’s economy and society, and what infrastructure would be needed to make it successful. This may require new mindsets and definitions of “infrastructure.” Nadir Mohamed of ScaleUp Ventures, eBay’s Andrea Stairs and Tawfik Hammoud from BCG stressed the importance of data governance and for Canadians as a nation to get ahead of this issue and define a national framework. The concept of the “data utility” could be critical, ensuring widespread and well-governed access for all Canadians and all businesses to the data that will fuel the analytics, automation and decision-making that will make the future economy happen.
Over lunch, Canada Infrastructure Bank leaders Janice Fukakusa and Bruno Guilmette joined us in a fireside chat about their work setting up Canada’s premier new infrastructure institution. The Bank’s mandate is to partner with governments and the private sector to help launch infrastructure projects that otherwise wouldn’t be viable. Janice and Bruno talked about three parts of the Bank’s work: investing in projects; advising communities, governments and projects; and developing shared data to support everyone involved.
In the afternoon, our Leveraging the Private Sector panel hosted infrastructure advisor Michael Bernstein, CIB board member and former Canada-Line CEO Jane Bird, and Dag Detter, author of Public Wealth of Nations. Michael pointed out that infrastructure is changing, becoming riskier as technologies such as solar power or autonomous vehicles disrupt formerly stable asset classes. This has big implications for financing. Dag shared his work on public commercial assets, saying that new ways to manage these assets can be a big boost to cities and nations looking for ways to fund infrastructure. And Jane talked about the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s advisory mandate, pointing out that it is critical in helping governments create the right environment for public-private partnerships.
Next was the finale of the CanInfra Ideas Contest. We spoke to a few infrastructure veterans who have sat through their share of pitches over the years, and they were blown away by the finalist teams. We were too. In fact, the judges were deadlocked and decided to add a third prize since all three finalist teams made such powerful pitches. The winners were:
The CanInfra Summit concluded with a special visit by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who talked about how important infrastructure is to “growing our communities and making our cities and towns better places to live not just today but in the years to come.” He also congratulated all the contest participants. “Canada needs people like you who are ready and willing to innovate and seize infrastructure opportunities,” he added.