Skip to content

Sudbury “on the right track,” says McKenna

By Jason Thompson Greater Sudbury is on the right track. That’s the message former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna spread at a gathering at Tom Davies Square in Sudbury Sept. 20.

By Jason Thompson

Greater Sudbury is on the right track. That’s the message former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna spread at a gathering at Tom Davies Square in Sudbury Sept. 20.

The marriage of technology and education is key to thriving in the new global economy, says former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna. He was in Sudbury Sept. 20 as the guest of mayor David Courtemanche. McKenna, who was also Canada’s ambassador to the United States, is now the vice chair of TD Bank Financial Group. He told the audience of politicians and business and community leaders that education and technology is the key to thriving in a new global economy.

Referring to the city’s three post-secondary institutions, Canada’s first new medical school in 30 years (NOSM), and the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation, McKenna said Sudbury has done well for itself in terms of education, especially considering how bad things were 20 years ago during a period of high unemployment and a struggling nickel market.

“With the institutions that you have created within this community and with the massive investment of industry, you’re creating more tools and more productive tools,” McKenna told the media following his speech.

“What that will guarantee is that not only are your industries sustainable, but you’re going to be discovering new ore bodies that would not have been profitable under old technologies.”

With this, McKenna said the community will have a viable and sustainable mining industry for decades to come.

“People make the mistake of thinking Sudbury is just about the primary industries, the mine, the smelter, the refinery.

There’s some 300 companies around here that service these industries and that have all kinds of other technologies . . . which are exportable around the world.”

McKenna drew similarities between Greater Sudbury and New Brunswick, the province he led as premier for ten years.

“We saw, in a resource-based province, the loss of jobs because of technology – technology that was needed to compete with foreign markets,” he said.

This created massive unemployment problems that pushed the province’s jobless rate to about 17 per cent.

McKenna said he came to the conclusion that fighting global markets was impossible and that a marriage between education and technology could create an economic base in the province that would supplement, not replace, the resource sector.

While McKenna’s speech focused on the good things Greater Sudbury has done in recent years, along with commending Mayor Dave Courtemanche and the community for a job well done, he warned that if the good times are going to continue, the city must not rest on its laurels.

“Sudbury is not in danger of over-concentrating on one sector because that sector is being transformed with the technology and innovation we’re developing, and other sectors are being developed simultaneously,” McKenna said, citing Sudbury’s fibre-optics network as an example of this.

The fact that China and India are growing their economies is a good thing because these countries purchase our goods in return, said McKenna, who admits he is a “globalist.”

“We have to compete with the emerging economies of the world, but we still have a more productive workforce and have more innovative technologies.”

These are only positives so long as Canada continues to move up by investing in education and knowledge, he said.

“We can compete with these emerging economies, but we have to stay nimble, we have to work hard and we have to keep getting smarter all the time,” said McKenna.

Government officials are speaking more about education than they ever have in the past and there seems to be a real effort to ensure Ontario doesn’t get left behind, he said.

McKenna said the United States is a powerhouse when it comes to education and this is what drives their economy, the strongest in the world.

About one third of the world’s colleges and universities are on American soil and eight of the Top 10 globally are in the United States. McKenna said it is also no coincidence that the four richest states are those whose populations have the highest levels of education.

Those countries which prosper in the new global economy are those that have education and technology at the top of their list of priorities, he said.

“In a country with an aging demographic, we have got to find efficient ways to work or we’re going to run out of workforce.”