BURNABY, B.C. – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demonstrated a new virtual camera used by game makers at an Electronic Arts Canada studio near Vancouver on Thursday after promoting the country’s technology sector to officials in Washington state.
Trudeau held the camera on his shoulder as two actors wearing special suits pretended to box at the company’s Capture Lab, an animation facility in Burnaby.
The prime minister also attended a roundtable at Electronic Arts with business leaders from health care, clean technology, digital animation and visual effects.
“We’re going to talk about how the government can be a better partner, or better get out of your way in some cases, to allow you to continue to grow, to succeed, to create great opportunities for innovations that are going to advance success in Canada, create good jobs for Canadians and draw in great people from around the world,” Trudeau said before the discussions began.
Jon Lutz, vice-president of financial planning and strategy at Electronic Arts, said the company that has created some of the world’s most successful video games is always looking for the most qualified people.
“We need the best people from all over the world so we welcome any strategies that grow the talent pool in Canada and enable us to compete on the global stage,” he said.
“We certainly welcome greater collaboration with our partners in the U.S. and anything that helps build the talent base up in Vancouver,” Lutz said, adding the interactive entertainment industry is a key subsector of technology and could continue growing in Canada.
Later Thursday, Trudeau attended a Liberal party fundraiser in downtown Vancouver, where he applauded local members for signing up 7,000 newcomers since last summer.
Trudeau called on his supporters to keep working hard as he warned about the momentum that upcoming leadership races could give the party’s rivals.
“We’ve got competition. The Conservatives are electing a new leader next weekend. The NDP will do the same later this year. And history has shown that these things matter,” he said, speaking to a room of a couple hundred people.
Outside the venue, protesters carried signs calling for an end to Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, whose terminus is in Burnaby, and to the Site C hydroelectric megaproject in the province’s north.
Earlier in the day, Trudeau met Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in Seattle where they discussed the development of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, an initiative that aims to strengthen technology industry ties between British Columbia and Washington.
The pair also spoke about trade, investment opportunities and innovation in the energy sector, said Trudeau’s office. In brief remarks before the meeting, the prime minister said Washington and Canada share common goals.
“We’re both strongly engaged on issues of climate change, on issues of openness to trade, on leadership on refugees as well and an understanding that diversity can be a real source of strength,” he said.
Inslee said the state and country share an “incredible commitment” to defeating climate change and a recognition that they can grow their economies at the same time.
“It is a great pleasure to know we have a national leader in the North American economy that is committed to that,” he said.
But protesters clad in yellow hazardous material suits that read “Keystone XL Toxic Cleanup Crew” gathered outside the hotel to criticize Trudeau’s environmental record, arguing his support of pipelines is at odds with any global warming promises he has made.
Chanting “Tar sands or clean lands, Trudeau you have a choice,” the group of about a dozen people demanded that the prime minister rescind his support of Keystone XL and the Trans Mountain expansion, two pipelines that have generated considerable debate in the U.S.
Janene Hampton of the Colville Okanagan Tribe in northern Washington said Trudeau claims he cares about indigenous people yet he sides with companies that want to build pipelines that threaten the water sources of Aboriginal Peoples.
“He’s approving these pipelines and the things that they’re asking for. He’s supporting the corporations. He says that he’s an indigenous peoples’ ally. Well, that’s not being an ally,” she said.
Protester Mike Foster said he’s especially concerned about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Alberta to the West Coast and the impact that increased tanker traffic will have on Washington state’s endangered killer whale population.
“We have 78 orca whales left in Puget Sound and the number of tankers coming through these waters would be increased 700 per cent,” he said.
Kinder Morgan Canada’s $7.4 billion pipeline expansion, approved by Trudeau’s government last year, would increase the number of tankers in coastal waters from about five per month to 34 per month.
In 2015, former U.S. president Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from Alberta to Nebraska, but President Donald Trump overturned the decision this year.
— With files from Laura Kane in Seattle.