Justin Trudeau to meet Jeff Bezos as Toronto bids for Amazon HQ2

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is meeting Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Thursday in San Francisco.

The meeting is part of Trudeau’s visit to the U.S., which is intended to “strengthen the bonds between Canada and the United States,” a spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s Office said in an email.

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Along with meeting government officials, he also has meetings with tech moguls in Silicon Valley.

“He will also meet with various business leaders and entrepreneurs in the technology sector to explore opportunities for growth in high-quality jobs and investment in Canada,” spokesperson Chantal Gagnon told Global News.

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The meeting with Bezos will take place at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, and comes as Toronto is still in the running to be the home of Amazon’s second headquarters.

Toronto is one of only 20 North American cities to make the shortlist, after 238 put forth proposals last year.

Toronto only Canadian city shortlisted for Amazon HQ2

The online retail giant, based in Seattle, said it would work with each candidate city over the next few months to dive deeper into the feasibility of each host area. Amazon plans to make a final decision sometime this year.

It promises to add 50,000 jobs and invest $5 billion in the city.

The meeting is a good sign — if not specifically for Toronto’s bid, then for the country as a whole, according to Sean Mullin, executive director of the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University.

“The fact that Jeff Bezos, who just recently became the wealthiest person in the world, is willing to sit down with our prime minister and talk to him about the tech sector, I think is nothing but a good sign for a potential bid, but also for the country,” Mullin said.

“The fact that there is only one Canadian city, Toronto, in the running — I think it probably makes the case easier. The prime minister can go down and make them make the case for one site that represents the whole country as opposed to a series of different locations.”

Questions about Trudeau’s trip posed to Toronto Global, the company behind the city’s bid, were re-directed to the PMO.

But spokesperson Julia Sakas said officials have been working closely with both the provincial and federal governments on the project.

“What I can tell you is that we have heard from Amazon and have received some information about next steps,” Sakas said in an email, noting that Amazon has asked for a “deeper dive” into commercial factors.

Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development spokesman Karl Sasseville said the government is committed to attracting more investment to Canada.

“Canadian communities like those in the Toronto region are seen as excellent places to invest and create new business opportunities — we will continue to work hard to promote the benefits of investing in Canada,” he wrote in an email to Global News.

Trudeau’s trip also comes as Canada and Mexico strive to address U.S. demands for NAFTA reform, with the fate of the trade pact uncertain. Last week, Trudeau reiterated a tough stance, saying Canada could walk away if he was not happy with talks to modernize the agreement.

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Trudeau is due to give a speech in Chicago on Wednesday to sell the merits of bilateral trade.

*with files from Reuters and Global News’ Adam Frisk 

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