The head of Canada’s largest railroad says he is pulling for SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (SNC.TO) as the construction giant continues to be mired in controversy.

“We do care and hope that other Montreal-based or Canadian-based or [companies] will be successful,” Canadian National Railway Co. Chief Executive Officer Jean-Jacques Ruest said, when asked about SNC’s recent struggles during a BNN Bloomberg interview on Wednesday.

“I don’t know what the future will hold, but … we would hope that Canada can continue to play a major role in the world and we need strong Canadian companies to do that.”

The board of directors of CN Rail (CNR.TO) – which posted a record second quarter both in terms of earnings and revenue – also includes SNC Chairman Kevin Lynch, tying the two companies together by more than just the locations of their respective headquarters.

Ruest also expressed his sympathies towards SNC’s workers.

“It is a little sad for the employees who are caught up in the challenge of SNC-Lavalin,” he said.

Ruest added that he’s bullish on the international strength of the Canadian economy, expressing optimism that the nation can repair its trading relationship with China.

“I’ve got to believe also at some point that Canada will find a way, economically and politically, to mend fences with China because they are now the second-largest economy in the world,” Ruest said.

“It’s very important to the futures of our kids and the standard of living in Canada that we can trade with all of the major bloc countries, including China.”

He added that he’s not concerned by the noise surrounding the current tensions between the two nations.

“I’ve been in this business for quite a while, and I don’t get distracted by the news of the day or the noise of the week,” Ruest said.

“Our economy is moving from all-manufacturing to services. Natural resources will remain strong. Energy will remain strong. Consumers will remain strong. So there are enough levers here to create a lot of physical trade from Asian countries,” he added. “If the growth isn’t quite as much from China, it will come from Vietnam [and] neighbouring countries, which will still benefit [Canada].”