Calgary Chamber of Commerce Remarks: Why We Must Say ‘Yes’ To Big Ideas
Today, I had the honour of delivering remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. I spoke about the Bank’s commitment to the province, and to the industries that enrich our lives and greatly contribute to Canadian prosperity.
Thank you, Sandip, for that kind introduction, and thank you all for that very warm welcome.
I want to begin by welcoming the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Lois Mitchell – thank you for being here.
I also want to extend my sincere thanks to Sandip, and the entire team at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce for helping to make today’s event possible.
I’m very pleased to be back in Alberta.
This province – and this city – are profoundly important to me both personally and professionally.
I was born and raised in Calgary.
My wife, Megan, was born in Edmonton.
I spent summers working on the oil rigs to pay my university tuition.
I’d like to believe that the entrepreneurial spirit that is so foundational to Alberta’s strength and resilience rubbed off on me all those many years ago.
In just a few minutes, Sandip and I are going to have a conversation and following that, I would be very happy to answer any of your questions.
Before we get to the Q&A, I wanted to take this opportunity to briefly tell you about Scotiabank, about our international footprint, and about our long history in this province.
Internally, we like to say we “Bank the Americas”. From Canada’s Arctic to the tip of Patagonia in Chile.
More specifically, our strategic focus is on Canada, the United States and the countries that make up the Pacific Alliance trading block, which are: Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia.
Scotiabank followed our customers to Latin America many decades ago, and today, more than half of the Bank’s 98,000 employees reside outside of Canada.
The Pacific Alliance countries have favourable demographics.
The combined population of all four countries is 233 million people, compared to 37 million here, in Canada.
They have young populations – with a median age of 29 – compared to 42 years of age in Canada, and 38 in the United States.
And, at present, only 50% of citizens are believed to hold a bank account.
Over my years at the Bank, I have spent a great deal of time in the four countries.
I have seen firsthand the economic, social and cultural transformation taking place across the region.
The transformation is real, it is significant, and it is presenting businesses, such as Scotiabank, with enormous growth opportunities.
For example, over the past four years alone, we have grown our earnings across the region by more than 70%.
Today, if you were to weigh our presence across the PAC countries, we’re the fourth largest bank.
Our strong international platform provides our Canadian clients with a trusted partner in Latin America.
We provide a number of Alberta-based companies, which operate in counties such as Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Colombia with corporate and commercial banking and advisory services.
We will continue to invest in our operations across the Pacific Alliance and we remain confident that our international footprint is a strategic differentiator for the Bank.
Of course, Scotiabank has deep roots here, in Canada.
In fact, the Bank predates Canada’s Confederation.
In Alberta, we opened our first branch in 1903 and over the past century we have become a significant contributor to the people, communities and the economy here, in Alberta.
You should know that we’re very proud of that.
We presently employ more than 2500 people across the province and provide our customers here with advice and solutions, specific to their banking needs.
In 2016, we relocated the head office of our private equity and venture capital firm – Roynat – from Toronto to Calgary.
Roynat now has operations in both Calgary and Edmonton, providing high-quality jobs for Albertans.
The Bank also has a long and successful history of lending and advising energy companies in Alberta and, indeed, across the globe.
We like to think of ourselves as Canada’s Energy Bank.
The energy platform is very important to our overall business.
Globally, we have more credit committed to the energy sector than any of our competitors.
We support our energy clients through well-established capital markets capabilities, which include: equity research, sales and trading, commodity hedging and mergers and acquisitions.
We have been proud to support our energy customers in good times and during downturns.
In fact, some of our strongest relationships today were forged in more difficult times.
We are also grateful for the strong relationships we enjoy with our customers more broadly, be they large multinational corporations, small or medium-sized enterprises, or individuals and their families.
Earlier this year, I was in Edmonton meeting with some Alberta-based customers.
We talked about the ways that the Bank could support them – be it through funding allocation, or advice – as they worked to implement their ambitious growth agendas.
Those are some of the things that we can, and will continue to do for our customers.
The pledge that we heard earlier this week – to cut business taxes – is precisely the type of initiative that will help small businesses grow, hire more employees, invest in the future, and, ultimately, attract more business dollars to the province.
Businesses – and their employees – benefit from red tape reduction, lowering taxes and keeping them low.
I want to leave plenty of time for your questions, so I’ll close with this:
As the President and CEO of a bank with operations in more than 35 countries, I do a fair bit of travelling.
The more I travel, the more I realize that so many countries aspire to attain what we have here, in Canada: our freedoms, our values and our prosperity.
Yet, many Canadians have a lack of appreciation for the fact that our freedoms, values and prosperity are not an accident.
These advantages are the direct result of the sacrifice, the courage and the grit of Canadians who came before us, and the industries and entrepreneurs that have contributed to our lives.
Previous generations found a way to say “yes” to major projects and then built them safely and responsibly.
A good example are the oil sands, which stand as a testament to human innovation and ingenuity.
Saying “yes” to those projects helped to build a country that is the envy of the world.
Scotiabank has been there to support oil sands development from Day 1.
Like many of you, I have been growing increasingly uneasy when I see so many vital projects cancelled, deferred, or put on hold indefinitely.
Industries that help to create millions of jobs, and enable our way of life as Canadians, are being vilified.
The same industries – it should be said – that are recognized around the world for their technical competence and adherence to the highest environmental and ethical standards.
Desperately needed pipelines, processing and export facilities are consistently bogged down by excessive regulation, misinformation and indecision.
As Canadians, we must not fool ourselves.
As investment dollar shift to other jurisdictions, and Canadian competitiveness lags, we all pay the price.
A recent report by the C.D. Howe Institute put the total cost of cancelled resource projects at $100 billion…
that is the same amount that the federal government committed to spend on vital infrastructure projects over four years.
Canadians are some of the toughest, most innovative people on earth… largely necessitated by our geography and climate.
We’re also good at building big things.
Enormous bridges and dams, a highway to the Arctic, and, of course, a railroad stretching from one side of the country to the other.
As I watch the news, I find myself wondering when we stopped being a country that knew how to say ‘yes’…
Say yes to big ideas and projects that sustain our future prosperity.
I’m not here to expound on the merits of the energy industry, or the need for greater market access for our resources.
The evidence in that regard is clear and convincing.
What we must do now is find a way to get the projects done, for the benefit of all Canadians.
I want to thank you for your attention, and I look forward to our discussion.
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