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Former BlackBerry co-CEO pushes for lobby representing Canadian tech interests

TORONTO - Former BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie says industry and government need to work together if Canada is to hold its own against international competition in the tech sector.Speaking at an Empire Club of Canada event in Toronto, Balsillie said that over the last few years a number of Silicon Valley giants like Google and Amazon have set up satellite offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Waterloo, Ont., in hopes of attracting top local talent.As a result, those companies are funnelling "big returns" out of Canada and back to their global headquarters.Among other things, Balsillie says Canada lacks a national lobby organization that would help homebred startups get the attention they need to grow.Without one, he says the voices of Canadian tech companies are being drowned out in Ottawa and other important centres by multinational corporations.Balsillie also suggested the government enact infrastructure and other policies to help the local tech sector, adding that political leaders need to start to seeing "how predatory this game is."

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