Blockchain industry in Canada: Pierre Polievre wants Ottawa to be the ‘capital of the world’

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on Oct 3, 2022
Updated: Oct 4, 2022
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  • Pierre Poilievre is the new leader of Canada's Conservative Party.
  • Poilievre fancies himself as a blockchain supporter.
  • He wants Canada to become the 'blockchain capital of the world'

Canadian political news just got interesting with the election of Pierre Polievre as leader of the Conservative party and main opposition to Justin Trudeau’s ruling Liberal government. 

Poilievre is a Canadian politician who has served as a member of Parliament since 2004. He has many inklinks of libertarianism – the individual, not the government, is responsible for maintaining their own well being. This line of thinking is mostly consistent with how cryptocurrency and Bitcoin (BTC/USD) supporters feel.

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As it turns out, Poilievre is also a blockchain enthusiast who wants Canada to become the “blockchain capital of the world.” But where does Ottawa stand today in the growing digital economy?

Poilievre: Canadians need ‘freedom to use other money’

Canada’s central bank, the Bank of Canada, has failed in its job to curb inflation while raising interest rates seems to be a regular occurrence.

Polievre went so far as stating that the central bank is “ruining the Canadian dollar.” The alternative, he added, is for Canadians to have “the freedom to use other money, such as Bitcoin.”

Polievre is indeed putting his money where his mouth is. In fact, he once said that Bitcoin is an asset that lets Canadians “opt-out” of inflation (a talking point he likely regrets making… have you seen the latest Bitcoin news?).

Standard financial disclosures for politicians shows that he owns at least $10,000 worth of a Canadian Bitcoin exchange traded fund called Purpose Bitcoin which is among the top Bitcoin ETFs you can buy. So he passes the sniff test as he is putting his money where his mouth is.

He explains his views on Bitcoin (after using his wallet to buy a shawarma sandwich) in this interesting YouTube video which I suggest you check out.

Crypto means ‘less financial control’ for politicians

Polievre explains in a policy paper dated March 28, 2022 that Canadians should live in a world where politicians and bankers have “less financial control” over the population. 

Instead, Canadians should have greater financial control to “own and use crypto, tokens, smart contracts, and decentralized finance.”

Why now? Simply put, the Trudeau government is doing a great job at “ruining the Canadian dollar” and Bitcoin offers an alternative asset to hedge against rising costs and a weakened currency, according to Polievre.

Commenting on the broader crypto market, he wrote:

The Blockchain economy is about more than new forms of cash. It’s also about decentralizing control of our economic decisions. A Poilievre government would welcome this new, decentralized, bottom-up economy and allow people to take control of their money from bankers and politicians. It would expand choice and lower the costs of financial products, and create thousands of jobs for engineers, programmers, coders, and other entrepreneurs.

Under a Conservative government, crypto will be legal and treated like a commodity (i.e gold) with similar taxes and regulations. The logic here being “what is legal to do with Canadian dollars should be legal to do with crypto currencies and vice versa.”

Poilievre’s comments give the impression that Canada has fallen really behind compared to its global peers in adapting and welcoming the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. Either this is true or merely partisan politics. So, which one is it?

IoTeX CEO: Canada is already blockchain friendly

I am familiar with several Canadian blockchain projects that are attracting attention, but it was difficult to find hard data.

I reached out to Raullen Chai, the CEO and Founder of IoTeX (IOTX/USD) to ask for his opinion. He has some insight, having lived and studied in Canada prior to beginning an impressive career in Silicon Valley that ended in co-founding a project that brings the idealistic power of blockchain to devices, Dapps, and NFTs.

You can read my full Invezz interview with Raullen in 2021 here.

Chai told me in an interview for this article that Canada has been a rising hub for blockchain innovation since at least 2018. Today, there are more than 550 blockchain projects and 330 crypto-related startups in Canada. Indeed, Canada in its present form is very “blockchain-friendly,” the CEO notes.

In fact, IoTeX partnered with a Canadian startup called Morpheus.Network which leverages its blockchain technology to “disrupt the trillion-dollar global supply chain market and make international trade more efficient.”

Meanwhile, the trucker protest of early 2022 and the Liberal government’s move to seize bitcoin wallets of those who financed the disruption is unlikely to tarnish Canada’s reputation. Raullen says:

I sincerely do not believe this will affect its crypto and blockchain stance or how the global blockchain and crypto community sees Canada. However, it could make people more concerned about owning their crypto outright instead of having it on exchanges. The whole nature of crypto is that we have the power to become our own bankers, making it impossible for anybody to seize our assets.

Final thoughts: Polievre has to play the long game

The Financial Post notes that Poilievre made an appearance on a crypto podcast in early 2022 and has since completely shied away from new interviews. Of course, he is always welcome on the Invezz podcast (hint, hint).

The brutal bear market means Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will likely take a back seat to more hot-pressing issues, including the carbon tax, housing prices, foreign affairs, among others. No one wants to be praising the benefits of crypto when many investors are feeling the pain.

So what does all of this mean for the crypto industry? Essentially, nothing. Not the most exciting time for the industry that is seeing major projects like Luna (LUNA/USD) collapsing.

As noted by the IoTeX CEO, Canada already offers blockchain companies a friendly environment to operate. Right now, Polievre doesn’t seem (or even want) to bring anything new to the table. Maybe things will change ahead of the next election scheduled for October 2025.