Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces proposed investment with Rio Tinto
Thank you, François-Philippe, for continuing to be there to help our businesses and our workers innovate across the country.
I’m always happy to make announcements with François-Philippe, it always costs a little money, but we continue to create good jobs of the future. Because it’s not just a question of jobs; it’s a question of careers, a question of future generations knowing that we are positioning Canada to reap the long-term benefits of the investments we are making as a country.
Of course, I also want to acknowledge Sophie, Jakob, and everyone from Rio Tinto. As François-Philippe said, it is thanks to your knowledge, the expertise of the workers here that Rio Tinto is positioning itself as a global leader in critical minerals processing here in Canada.
I also want to acknowledge our friend Louis Plamondon, MP for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel. He remarked on how long ago it was…when he was elected. It was what, six, seven decades ago that you were elected? Is that right?
In 38 years, not once has a prime minister come to the riding to make an announcement…I pointed out that I came a couple times during election campaigns to try to unseat him, but without success. But coming…coming to announce investments here, I’m very, very pleased because, as François-Philippe said, it’s a matter of recognizing that the future is being built all over, it’s being built all across Canada. And the announcement we came here to make will ensure a future not just for the people of Sorel, but for all Quebecers, all Canadians for generations to come as we lead the way in critical minerals.
But before beginning this speech, I want to take a moment to talk about Ukraine.
Before we begin today, I want to take a moment to strongly condemn Russia’s continued attacks on civilians in Ukraine.
Russia’s strikes against civilians in Ukraine are unacceptable. Russia’s criminal attacks are shattering lives forever. It’s terrible to think of the people going about their lives in Kyiv, sending their children to parks, going to work one Monday morning only to be hit by airstrikes, missiles targeting civilians, targeting innocent people.
We see what is happening, the courage of Ukrainians, how fiercely they are defending their territory, making it extremely difficult for Vladimir Putin, who made a monumental mistake by underestimating Ukrainians, underestimating the resolve of Western countries to stand with Ukraine to defend the democratic principles we all protect.
And so what is he doing? He is targeting civilians with missiles. He is killing women, children, innocent people. We see how illegal and unjustified these attacks are, and Canada will continue to stand with our allies around the world to push back against Russia and stand with Ukraine.
Yesterday, I spoke with President Zelensky and offered my condolences on behalf of Canadians regarding the tragic deaths caused by Russia’s actions. The Russians… the Russians’ missile strikes on civilians, on innocent people commuting to work, kids playing in parks, are targeted at civilians and civilian infrastructure; there’s no military targets in there. Just a recognition that Ukrainians have fought so bravely, and the world has stood so solidly by their sides and behind them that Russia’s decided to take this to the next level and attack innocents.
We remain committed to holding this Russian regime to account and to supporting Ukraine, including financial, humanitarian, sanctions and military assistance. That’s what I told President Zelensky. And today, Minister Anand announced a deployment of approximately 40 combat engineers to Poland under Operation UNIFIER to train Ukrainian sappers as part of a multinational effort. We will continue to support Ukraine and democracy against Putin’s authoritarianism.
This morning, we gathered in a virtual G7 meeting and we heard from President Zelensky, who kicked us off with a strong request for continued solidarity and assistance by the world, which we assured him we would give. And during the ensuing G7 meeting, we talked about Ukraine, but I also brought up the subject of Iran and made it clear that Canada will continue to support the women in Iran and that all democracies should come together to support them.
We’re seeing transformation and changes and challenges all over the world right now. I can understand how anxious people are about their future, about their kids’ future, whether they’re talking about geopolitics, whether we’re talking about war in Europe, whether we’re talking about the impact of climate change, which we saw a reminder in Îles-de-la-Madeleine and the Atlantic provinces with Hurricane Fiona.
And these are things that cause a lot of uncertainty and anxiety in the world, but it’s also linked to the reasons why I’m so glad to be here today, to talk about what we’re doing to ensure that Canada continues to play a strong and positive role on the world stage in providing the essential building blocks of that future, whether it be a carbon neutral future, whether it be a cleaner, greener future, whether it be the kind of future in which everyone can aspire to good jobs, a safe home and a better future for their own kids.
So I’m very pleased to be here with you today in Sorel. We’re here because we want to create jobs, keep our air clean, and strengthen our supply chains. These are goals we share with Rio Tinto, and it’s why our government is proposing a major investment to help the company focus on critical minerals processing here in Quebec. In addition to creating up to 150 new jobs and maintaining jobs at Rio Tinto and in the region, this investment aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the Rio Tinto Fer et Titane plant in Sorel-Tracy by almost 50% by 2030.
Now there’s still politicians who say that you have to choose between good jobs and clean air. Well, this announcement, along with so many others we’ve already made, shows concretely that a healthy economy and a healthy environment can, and indeed must, go hand in hand. Today’s announcement with Rio Tinto will create jobs and position Canada as a leader in the critical minerals that go into things like electric vehicles for our net-zero future.
These critical minerals are important because they give us what we need here at home to build things like batteries for electric vehicles. In recent months, we have announced several partnerships -- I’m referring here to Stellantis, GM, Unicorp -- which will create and maintain more than 17,000 good jobs, in addition to helping fight climate change.
We have long talked about how climate change represents a real challenge for our societies, for our communities, for our families, for our country, for our world. We are also trying to say, yes, climate change represents opportunities as well. In the last few years, we have faced more challenges than opportunities, but with the announcements we have made over the last year and a bit, we are seeing the results of the work we’ve done in the last seven years to show that while fighting climate change, we can create opportunities for good jobs that will last not just several years, but several generations, positioning Canada as a leader in meeting the world’s energy and mineral requirements.
Good, middle-class jobs, clean air and made-in-Canada technologies. This is our vision for a strong economy and a strong future.
Quebec and Rio Tinto are global leaders in innovation and green technology. Last year, we continued our collaboration with Rio Tinto with a new investment in the ELYSIS project in Saguenay, to create the world’s first carbon-free aluminum.
Together, we’ll continue to innovate, create jobs, and above all build a clean and prosperous future for our children.
Thank you, everyone.