Trudeau touts technological innovation during MIT campus visit

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remembers asking his father why the stereo and other gadgets he had as a boy were made in Japan _ not in Canada.

The answer he eventually got from other people over the years was that Japan is a small country without a lot of natural resources, one that had to massively invest in its people through technology spending and education.

“I remember being really pissed off,” Trudeau said Friday at an innovation and sustainability conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Wait, wait, wait, we have all these advantages and because we have all these advantages we can’t be smart and innovative too?”

Trudeau said Canada now relies heavily on technology and innovation in harvesting its natural resources, but he added it has also learned that resource development alone cannot drive the country’s economy.

The question-and-answer session with MIT professor Danielle Wood was the final event of Trudeau’s three-day trip to the United States, where he focused largely on selling Canada as a solid place to invest.

The Bank of Canada warned earlier this week investor confidence has been hit by concerns about the progress on negotiating a new North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trudeau’s trip came at a tense stage of those talks between Canada, the United States and Mexico. An artificial deadline to complete a new deal came and went on Thursday, and there are now serious questions about how much longer it will take and what impact elections in Mexico and the U.S. will have on progress.

Technology was named as a Canadian strength by several people Trudeau met with or spoke to during the trip, many of whom mentioned Canada’s welcoming immigration policies and openness as a competitive feature held up against a lens of protectionism and slowdown of immigration in the United States.