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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Really Wants Toronto to Get Amazon’s Second Headquarters

February 9, 2018, 1:33 AM UTC

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pushing hard for Amazon to consider opening a second headquarters in Toronto.

Trudeau bragged on Thursday during a press event in San Francisco about what he considers are Toronto’s attractive qualities for the online retail and cloud computing giant’s planned new campus, a much coveted $5 billion prize that cities are trying to attract in what is an unusually public competition. Amazon previously said that its planned-second headquarters would eventually accommodate 50,000 workers.

“I think any investment into Canada would be a great thing, and obviously the Amazon (AMZN) second headquarters would be a significant boom for any city that got it,” Trudeau said. “Toronto is a world-class city with an incredible workforce, tremendous diversity, all the kinds of advantages that Amazon has laid out that it’s looking for.”

“I certainly hope that we get that H2Q hub,” he added.

The prime minister’s comments come just hours before he is expected to meet with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as part of a mini-tour of several U.S. cities by the Canadian leader that includes San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Trudeau is trying to garner support for the North American Free Trade Agreement and promote Canada as a country that welcomes U.S. tech companies setting up offices and hiring locals.

Amazon has narrowed down its search for second headquarters from 200 cities to 20 finalists, with the only non-U.S. city being Toronto. Other Canadian cities that have previously submitted bids include Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.

“I know that just as we supported all the different Canadian city bids, we are going to continue to demonstrate why we know Canada is such a great place to invest,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau’s stop in San Francisco also included meeting Salesforce (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff to talk about diversity and equality issues, he said. Salesforce also said that it would spend $2 billion in Canada over a five-year period to hire Canadian workers and expand the company’s existing data centers in the country,

“That $2 billion is going to create a lot of great Canadian jobs, thousands of them,” Trudeau said.

Enterprise software startup AppDirect, which hosted Trudeau for the press event, also said that it would hire 300 Canadians and open a new Toronto office.

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Trudeau is heavily courting U.S. technology companies to open offices in Canada as a way to prevent home-grown tech workers from leaving the country for work in the U.S.

“Technology companies have been increasingly looking to Canada to lay down roots,” Trudeau said, referencing the recent openings of artificial intelligence research labs by companies like Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), and Facebook (FB) as examples.

Trudeau did not say what kinds of incentives the Canadian government is offering to U.S. technology companies to convince them to settle in the country, and instead pitched Canada’s “great talent” and the government’s investments in artificial intelligence.

“They’re not coming because of investments we offer, in most cases we haven’t,” said Trudeau.