Minister Bernier's speech to Centennial engineering students was met with mixed reactions

Minister of state’s message to students: be entrepreneurial

Maxime Bernier, Canada’s Minister of State for small business and tourism, gave an optimistic talk on Monday, encouraging Centennial College students to pursue their passions in starting small businesses.

“Just believe in yourself, and go and try and you’ll be successful,” he told an audience at the school’s Progress Avenue campus in Toronto.

Bernier’s speech comes at a time when the Canadian dollar is at a six-year low. Falling oil prices have put strains on resource-rich provinces. However, Bernier said it’s only a problem for the government and advantageous for the average citizen.

“Natural resources by themselves do not bring wealth,” he said. “Entrepreneurs, for me, are in fact the only real natural resource a country needs to have, all others can be bought from elsewhere.”

Students at the college were not so convinced by Bernier’s enthusiasm.

“We were told it (Bernier’s presentation) would be about how to be an entrepreneur, but he instead kind of just bounced off any questions and just said Canada’s awesome,” a student in Centennial’s HVAC program said.

Still, Bernier’s speech did convince at least one student to consider starting his own small business post graduation.

“Before, I was just thinking of just working for another company, but now it’s always a possibility,” Robert Kehl, an HVAC student, said.