Address by Minister Day to the Thai-Canadian Chamber of Commerce

No. 2009/52 - Bangkok, Thailand - November 9, 2009

Based on a Transcript

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here. You are all busy people, and the fact you have found time to join us this evening is much appreciated. Special thanks to each one of you whom I have already met with. You have shown us generosity and warmth and a wonderful welcome in the short period of time that we have been here, and this has reinforced my commitment to make sure that I get back to your beautiful country as soon as I can.

Each year, about 100,000 Canadians visit here. There is something about wintertime in Canada that makes people want to come here. I haven’t got that quite figured out. Three days ago, I was going for my early morning run in Ottawa and I had my tuque on and my mitts and my warm jacket. When I ran out the door of the hotel this morning and ran in the park, after about two or three kilometres, I took off the tuque and I took off the mitts, and it was a wonderful start to what has been a beautiful day.

On behalf of our Prime Minister and the people of Canada, I certainly send our thoughts and our prayers to his Majesty [King Bhumibol] for a full recovery of his health and his strength so he may continue to do what he does so well. Canadians admire him, and we look toward his ongoing good health.

It worked out well that my wife was able get away from some of her other commitments and join me on this trip. We will be here for two days and then we go to Singapore for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation [APEC] Ministerial Meeting. I shared with the trade representative this morning that when Thailand looks at its trade numbers for the end of this month, it will see the effect of my wife’s visit here, and that will be very much appreciated. But she has had a wonderful day with the wife of the Canadian ambassador [Ron Hoffmann], and they have seen some very historic points of interest and met wonderful people, and she wants to come back here for a visit.

You know, the day started off with meetings and a whole session that was focused on energy. As many of you know, Canada is the seventh-largest oil-producing country in the world, and we have the second-largest reserves in the world. We are also keenly focused on alternative-energy strategies. I want to congratulate the government here for its 15-year master plan towards alternative energy use, moving from the approximately 5 percent where it is today to over 20 percent by the year 2022. I think this is remarkable, and our energy sector—there were 10 [Canadian energy] companies there this morning—will be able to work with you and work with energy companies here so they can share what they already know. And we can see issues like energy security and also alternative forms of energy advance, not just here but in Canada also.

But it goes beyond that. I was able to meet with the Minister of Commerce [Pornthiva Nakasai], with the Minister of Energy [Wannarat Channukul], and with people in the business sectors. We have much that we can do together because, I think, from what I have seen and heard, you see the world in some ways the same way that we do. Especially at a time of economic downturn, it is important to open the doors of opportunity and to resist the protectionist urges that sometimes can settle in. And I have sensed that similarity of spirit in our discussions here.

I just was talking with the individual who is with an auto-parts manufacturing company that is Canadian-based, and that company will be opening up a whole new venture here very shortly. We have Canada Oil here and Manulife [Financial] and Scotiabank. Tomorrow, I will be honoured to preside over the opening of SNC-Lavalin’s new office [in Bangkok], that will be [involved] in energy consulting. Almost all of the engineers who will be there and working in that company are Thai and this is just one of many, many examples of the great things that we can do together.

We met with people today whose interests go beyond business, and we looked at some of these social aspects and some of the civil society approaches that we share in common so we can work together to see growth throughout the Asian community and beyond.

So everything points in a good direction. We feel very positive about the relationship and we want to see it expand; we want to see it grow. The opportunities are there for both of our countries, and I want to thank you, each one of you, for the part that you play in that. Because of your forward-looking view and the broad, expansive view with which you see the world around you, we are able to share many things in common and see prosperity and a standard of living and opportunities for both of our peoples.

I look forward to my meetings tomorrow, and I especially look forward to coming back here, not just to do business, but also to do the many wonderful things that 100,000 Canadians do here in terms of enjoying the wonderful tourist opportunities that you have.

Thank you.