Justin Trudeau is caught between two economies, and his visit to San Francisco on Thursday showed why.
The Canadian leader zigzagged through the city for a series of tech meetings, hailed the benefits of immigrants to an industry thirsty for talent, had a private chat with Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, pitching Toronto for the retail giant’s second headquarters, and even picked up investments from Salesforce.com Inc. and AppDirect Inc. It’s in keeping with Trudeau’s aspiration to remake Canada as a tech leader — with mixed results so far.
Dogging him, though, were some very immediate problems for Canada’s economy. They include divisions over an oil pipeline and questions about ongoing NAFTA talks where the U.S., Canada and Mexico are digging in on distinctly analog industries that feel miles away from Silicon Valley, like manufacturing plants and dairy cows. Trudeau even took a veiled old school shot at Amazon, saying he’d defend brick-and-mortar retail amid calls from his own central bank to rein in powers of “superstar” tech firms.