Barrick Gold Chairman Says Time for Trudeau to Shine in China

  • Canada prime minister needs to act before halo wears off
  • New leader `has made it perfectly clear' Canada is open

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should leverage the international buzz around his election to create a global model for relations with China, Barrick Gold Corp. chairman John Thornton said.

"That model will be good for Canada," Thornton, said in panel discussion in Toronto Thursday. "It will be good for China and because it’s a model, it will also start to be emulated by other similar countries, including the United States."

Trudeau is capturing the international spotlight the way U.S. President Barack Obama did when he was first elected in 2008, Thornton said. He needs to act before that ‘halo’ effect wears off, he said.

"It reminds me a little bit of the change from George W. Bush to Obama in the sense that the prime minister has made it perfectly clear that Canada is open in every respect and in particular open for inward investment," he said.

China has been of particular interest for Thornton, who is as a professor and director of global leadership at the Tsinghua University in Beijing. He sits on numerous boards in the country, including China Investment Corp. and the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

‘Strategic Framing’

China has recognized that it needs more than just broad-based trade and state-owned enterprises that set up shop abroad to feed its need for resources, Thornton said. The country has systematically identified a number of individuals, companies, and countries it believes can be reliable, enduring partners over a long period of time, he added.

“The sooner Canada gets on this the better,” he said. “There’s an enormous competitive advantage and Canada should be taking advantage of it.”

Thornton said he was impressed by Trudeau’s speech in Davos last month when he talked about being resourceful rather than just focusing on the country’s natural resources.

"It struck me as a rather strategic framing of the future of the country," Thornton said.

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