Based on a Transcript
Thank you so much. When I hear that this event is sold out again—as a matter of fact it is oversold—I think we should acknowledge the great work of the Chair of the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Foundation, Betty Funston, and all of the people who helped her. I think you’ve done magnificent work with this fantastic evening.
I have to tell you in all honesty that the Premier [Gordon Campbell] and I were a little bit nervous standing up here because we thought we were going to have to lead in the singing of the national anthem and we didn’t want to ruin the evening. And [Elly Leung] did a great job. I think he should be singing before the Vancouver Canucks games, don’t you? Somebody said they can use all the help they can get, but I didn’t want to say that.
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is an incredible organization. From your beginnings back in 1973, the number of people, families and businesses that you have touched and helped is actually beyond number. Of course, whether we’re speaking here or whether we’re going around the world, we talk about the success of Canada’s multicultural life. And you have truly played a huge part in that success.
You have gone far beyond the settlement agency that you were at the beginning. You give people the tools they need. You give them support, be they working people, seniors or whomever. That is so valued, and that is why at the federal level we are more than pleased to contribute to this fantastic organization, because we know the good work you do.
Just a few weeks from now, I will travel to China. It will be my first time there. Do you think I am in for a good time? Under our prime minister’s direction we have had 13 different ministerial missions to China so far since this government took office. When I go in April, we will have members of the community with us. One of the things that I’ll do is open six new trade offices in China.
We want to see the relationship between Canada and China grow and become more comprehensive. It is already good, but we want it even better. We show that not just by our trade outreach, but also by the fact that over $1 billion is going in from the federal government to the Asia-Pacific corridor. This will help to improve the facilities, the ports, the highways, the bridges in the Lower Mainland, throughout British Columbia and even into other provinces so that goods can get quickly to the Pacific and to Asia and also so that they can arrive from there and move quickly into our country and into the United States.
We also have a global commerce strategy in which we will be reaching out through our trade offices. We have 150 trade offices around the world. We have some 960 trade commissioners. They need your help. They need you to carry the message that British Columbia and Canada are the place to do business, the place to invest. Our banking system is stable, as is our economy. Though it is being hit by worldwide forces, it is still going to get through these difficult times. And the work that you do plays such a large part in that effort.
So I’m looking forward to going to China for all of the reasons I’ve stated. If I could share with you personally for a moment, I’m also looking forward to going for family reasons. My grandfather on my mother’s side was one of Canada’s Hong Kong veterans. During the Second World War he went with the Canadian Forces to defend Hong Kong. He was captured and spent four years in a prisoner of war camp. He was still alive on liberation, but he passed away in the hospital after returning from that war.
When I had the opportunity to meet President Hu Jintao about four years ago we talked about things such as the United Nations and China’s place on the Security Council, and I shared with him about my grandfather. Later in the meeting he came back to me with an interpreter. He grasped my hand and asked if I would extend to my mother his gratitude for what my grandfather had done. We had a very special moment right then; it was an emotional moment.
So for all of the reasons that S.U.C.C.E.S.S. represents here and for the reasons of trade, and for the reasons of building on a relationship that has been there for years, we want to see our relationship with China continue to grow and expand in all ways possible.
I want to thank you for being a part of this success, such a vital part. We wish you all the best in the future and we thank you for everything you have done to make people’s lives so much richer.
Xie xie, thank you.