The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Canadian Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Model

London, England, Saturday, July 28, 2012


Thank you, Your Excellency, for your generous introduction and for the hospitality you have shown all of us this morning.

Good morning, distinguished guests. Thank you for joining Mr. Campbell and me here in this little piece of Canada for an opportunity to learn more about our country’s approach to public-private partnerships.

This is my second trip to London this year. My wife Sharon and I enjoyed the privilege of representing Canadians last month at the official Diamond Jubilee celebration of our monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

This current visit coincides with yet another momentous international event. The Olympic Games is the world’s premier athletic competition: three weeks of the finest athletes from around the world testing their skills, strength and stamina on the most demanding stage in sports.

As a long-retired collegiate athlete, I’ll be watching the competitors closely. I’ll be watching to see whether cyclist Clara Hughes will become Canada’s most decorated Olympian; whether boxer Mary Spencer will step from the centre of the ring to the top of the podium; and whether freestyler Ryan Cochrane will lead our swim team to glory.

I’m sure all of you have your own favourites—athletes whose spirit, dedication and fortitude have turned them into icons for millions of men, women, boys and girls in your home countries.

But if we delve a little deeper into the Olympic Games, we discover that it is more than a just showcase for sports. It is an unparalleled opportunity for tens of thousands of people—athletes, coaches, fans, families, journalists, broadcasters, businesspeople and government officials—from over 200 countries to share experiences, exchange ideas and develop friendships, alliances and partnerships that may reach far beyond these three weeks in this one city.

In this simple way, London 2012 will enable us to practice something I call the diplomacy of knowledge. It is a straightforward concept that has significant consequences. The diplomacy of knowledge is our ability and willingness to work together and share the information we uncover and refine—across disciplines and across borders—to create a smarter, more caring world.

Looking at this definition—especially the idea of working across disciplines and across borders—we see that the diplomacy of knowledge is a perfect way to stimulate innovation.

Innovation is a word that gets bandied about a good deal. So much so that it no longer has any universal meaning. What exactly is innovation? Contrary to what many people believe, it is neither discovering nor inventing.

Innovation is changing something that is already established; it is taking an existing idea or concept and approaching it from a different perspective, or combining it with a seemingly unrelated idea or concept to improve it or create something wholly, radically new. And as a consequence, this process usually does some good or recalibrates organizations for better results.

Governments play an important role, by ensuring that all citizens have access to quality schools; by creating solid organizations that encourage people to work together and share; and by nurturing a national economic climate that rewards people for producing innovative methods, products and practices.

Yet governments cannot act alone. Innovation that is true and enduring happens when educated men and women from across professional and scientific disciplines and from across regional and national borders make a determined effort to work together to create, share, test and refine knowledge. It is that determination to reach across national borders to share knowledge that brings me here today.

The Canadian public-private partnership model is an ideal expression of the diplomacy of knowledge. Men and women from a cross-section of disciplines—bankers, developers, designers, architects, engineers, legislators, government officials—and a cross-section of borders within Canada—cities, Aboriginal communities, provinces, territories and the federal government—have followed this model to find new ways of building infrastructure.

We call it, appropriately enough, the Canadian PPP model for infrastructure. The Canadian model works because private-sector experts from a variety of sectors are actively and heavily involved throughout project development. It postulates that private-sector capital is at risk and therefore harnesses the incentives and discipline of capital markets.

The model takes the entire lifecycle of projects into consideration —from design, to construction, operation and maintenance—providing governments with a complete picture of project costs and risks. It also enables public-sector organizations to focus on their core business—defining their desired outputs—making private-sector partners responsible for coming up with the most sensible solution to produce those outputs.

The benefits of the Canadian approach are real: better services for users; lower costs to taxpayers; and faster project delivery times for governments. The Canadian PPP model for infrastructure is also flexible. Jurisdictions throughout our country have used it to build roads and bridges, hospitals and prisons, fire halls and police stations—infrastructures that all nations need.

It is particularly effective when tackling large, complex projects, as the model takes full advantage of the knowledge, skills and wisdom of a range of experts to reduce lifecycle costs and build higher-quality infrastructure.

I would like you to put the Canadian PPP model to the test. Adapt it to suit your needs. You may find uses for the model that are suited to your specific requirements or longstanding traditions, uses that we in Canada could never have imagined. Learn from your experiences as you use our model. Make our approach even better. And share your results with us and with others around the world.

That is what it means to work across disciplines and borders. That is the diplomacy of knowledge in action. That is stimulating true, lasting innovation that will benefit our citizens.

Thank you all very much. I look forward to the discussion this morning.