Canadian Politician McGuinty On Cleantech Business Mission to Israel and the West Bank

dalton mcguinty ontario canadaCanada, unlike the United States, is made up of provinces.

One of its richest, and home to Toronto is Ontario – a province whose leader wants it to “go green” (see fist pumping, left). It is also where I was born and raised.

Now, Ontario’s Premiere (leader) Daltan McGuinty is currently on a trade mission to Israel, and a focus will be on clean tech.

He and his entourage arrived in Tel Aviv on May 26, and have already visited some of Israel’s most exciting clean technology companies – those attracting worldwide interest and investment, as part of Ontario’a trade mission to Israel. Part of his journey was to see how the private and public sectors cooperate in clean tech innovation, according to News Ontario.

On his visit McGuinty saw the Israeli electric car company Better Place. Ontario to some extent has already partnered with Better Place back in 2009, where the Israeli company, headquartered in CA, is expected to help Ontario set up an electric car grid. I’m skeptical it will work in a province where men love their big trucks and drive with them for hours, but maybe Better Place can deliver the right model through new partnerships.

At the trade mission meeting, Premier McGuinty and Sandra Pupatello, the province’s Economic Development and Trade Minister visited Better Place’s R&D facility in Tel Aviv and met with the company’s CEO, Shai Agassi.

McGuinty also visited the strangely beautiful solar power flower tower of AORA deep in the Arava desert in southern Israel, before travelling to the Arava Institute where the mission met with the students and faculty of the environmental education facility that creates partnerships between Israeli and Jordanian students. Ormat, the geothermal energy company, was also on his list.

The six day trade mission according to the Ottawa Citizen, lamenting its city’s low participation in the meeting, will include 38 companies from the province.

The trade mission, the paper reports, was designed by McGuinty himself to learn more about Israel’s success in nurturing innovation and attracting venture capital. “With 7.2 million people, Israel has more companies on the NASDAQ than any country in the world, except the U.S. It attracts as much venture capital investment as France and Germany combined.”

Targeting the life sciences sector, the mission will include hospitals and companies from Ontario. Faculty from Queens, McMaster, Western, York and the University of Toronto are reportedly attending also. Hopefully this trip will lead to deeper business ties between Israel and Canada. Unlike the US, Canada and Israel weathered the storm of America’s financial crisis a lot better than expected.

Quick facts:

  • For every 10,000 electric vehicles on the road, Better Place estimates that Ontario will offset more than 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
  • Since 2003, more than 1,300 megawatts of renewable electricity capacity has come online in Ontario — enough to power more than 400,000 homes.
  • Ontario is Canada’s leader in wind power and solar photovoltaic capacity. The province is home to both Canada’s largest wind and solar farms.

Meanwhile, the Financial Post in Canada reports in February that Ontarians are not completely convinced by McGuinty’s green mission:

The initiative…aims to spend as much as $5-billion to encourage the growth of renewable forms of energy as well as create as many as 50,000 jobs over the next three years. The province has not released specific details about how it will generate employment.

On May 27, McGuinty was in the West Bank. Some 15,000 people living in Ontario have Palestinian roots. His official website reports:

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty travelled to the West Bank today as part of a trade mission to the Middle East. He was joined by Economic Development and Trade Minister, Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Dr. Eric Hoskins, MPP Monte Kwinter, MPP David Zimmer and several business delegates.

During a lunch with political and business leaders, McGuinty committed to exploring new ways in which to build upon existing collaborative relationships between Palestinian and Ontario Universities. Although partnerships already exist in a variety of fields, including engineering, environmental sciences, justice and health, it is beneficial to expand into other areas of mutual interest.

Later, in Ramallah, the Premier met with the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad, where they discussed ways to improve trade between Ontario and the West Bank and continue to build on shared development, knowledge creation and strengthening links between universities.

The Premier also visited Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity, one of the oldest churches in the world.

He said: “Visiting the West Bank and meeting the people who live and work here, I’m reminded of just how small our world is, and how we’re all connected. When so many Ontarians can trace their roots back to this part of the world, we’re in a unique position to build new partnerships and explore new opportunities.”

Parts of this post were first published on Canada’s Israel blog.

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