Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived Thursday in sunny California, armed with a Canadian sales pitch aimed at attracting Silicon Valley talent and investment capital. "Pivot to Canada." Recruiters from cities in Canada attend Canadian university alumni events in the valley, urging graduates to come home "to your next career move in the Great White North". Toronto is the only non-U.S. city among the 20 that have made Amazon's shortlist.
But the warm greeting in California comes amid mounting tensions between Canada and the United States over the renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement.
Several tech entrepreneurs in Canada said the University of Toronto in particular was a draw, thanks to its research in machine learning and other artificial intelligence, and that businesses also could be certain they could hire anyone they wanted, given immigration policy.
"At the same time, we need to improve NAFTA", he said.
After his speech, Trudeau was asked about his relationship with Trump.
Trudeau said that Canadians are rightly nervous that NAFTA will be torn up - a repeated threat Trump has made over successive rounds of talks between Canada, the United States and Mexico - and what it would mean for jobs on both sides of the border.
Negotiators from the U.S., Mexico and Canada recently finished their sixth round of talks on NAFTA.
The lengthy talks have increased the political pressure and the rhetoric in Canada, where the stakes are high.
Trudeau declined to talk about specifics Thursday, but said Canada wants an agreement that is "win-win-win" for all three countries.
"We're going to continue to demonstrate why we know that Canada is such a great place to invest". Among his desires is requiring more made-in-America auto production and shifting more government contracts to US companies. "That could cause immediate disruption for the tech community" on both sides of the border, said Daniel Ujczo, an global trade lawyer based in Columbus, Ohio, who has been part of the NAFTA talks, now in their sixth round. "Canada and Mexico keep raising worker mobility issues, but the USA won't discuss it", he said.
Trudeau, who was not injured or involved in the crash, was leaving the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where he delivered a speech highlighting the importance of trade between U.S. and Canada.
Mr. Trudeau rejected the notion that Canada was standing in the way of progress on modernizing the trade deal, days after a USA government official said the United States was considering striking a separate agreement with Mexico. In 1988, Reagan and then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney signed the first free trade agreement a precursor to NAFTA.