Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau promised millions of dollars in new money Tuesday for research and development, as well as for small technology businesses.
Trudeau said a Liberal government would put up $200 million a year for three years to help research facilities, small business incubators and exporters. Another $100 million a year would go toward an industrial research assistance program.
"Under Stephen Harper, our economy has had a weak 10 years," Trudeau told a crowd after touring a factory.
"The global economy is increasingly competitive. New technologies are disrupting old economic models, and emerging economies are taking an ever-growing share of the global marketplace."
Trudeau said Canada has a smaller base of capital for new firms and his plan would give new technology companies a better chance of success through access to office space in so-called incubators, and partnerships with universities and colleges.
He pointed to a report from the Geneva-based World Economic Forum that said Canada has fallen to 22nd place from 12th in terms of innovation among leading countries since 2009.
Trudeau made the announcement at a factory that produces high-tech electrical transformers in Winnipeg Centre — one of the poorest ridings in the country and one the Liberals are hoping to steal from the NDP.
New Democrat Pat Martin has had a stranglehold on the riding since 1997, but the Liberals are pinning their hopes on Robert-Falcon Ouellette, an aboriginal candidate with a military background who first entered politics last year and finished a surprising third in Winnipeg's mayoralty race.
Ouellette was by Trudeau's side as cameras followed the pair on a tour of the factory.
While Ouellette faces an uphill battle — the Liberals finished a distant third in Winnipeg-Centre in 2011 — polls suggest the Liberals could make other gains in Winnipeg, thanks largely to the low approval rating of Manitoba's NDP government, which has rubbed off on the federal New Democrats.
Trudeau is hoping to regain former Liberal strongholds in Winnipeg South-Centre and St. Boniface-St. Vital, which have been won by the Conservatives in recent years.