Speaking Notes for the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages on the occasion of the Action Canada 2010 National Selection Dinner
April 19, 2010
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Ladies and gentlemen,
It's great to be with you this evening, and I want to thank you for inviting me to speak.
Let me take this opportunity to commend Action Canada on providing young Canadian leaders with a great fellowship program that fosters their leadership skills. This wonderful program is helping people increase their positive contribution to our communities, to our country, and to our world.
Thanks to their experiences with Action Canada, alumni are learning how to achieve and how to succeed ... experiences that are helping them build strong and vibrant Canadian communities.
By supporting these young Canadian leaders and helping develop their leadership skills through a greater understanding of Canada and its public policy issues, our Government is building a strong nation for our future. And I'm pleased to say that in this instance, the Government of Canada and the private sector are partnering to invest in young leaders.
We are committed to building a country in which all citizens have the chance to participate in our cultural and economic life, and we appreciate how the work of your organization contributes to this goal.
I am particularly interested in Action Canada's theme for this fellowship year: "Economic Transformations: Challenges and Opportunities for Canada - what policies should Canada implement to succeed as a strong nation?"
Canada has been impacted by a global recession the likes of which we have not seen in decades. In everything we do, our Government seeks the best ways to help and support and enhance Canada's economy.
The 2010 Speech from the Throne (SFT) outlines our Government's priorities for the coming session of Parliament, and in keeping with our concern about the economy, our primary focus is fiscal balance and building jobs and industries.
In other words, by focusing on the economy, Action Canada's current theme dovetails nicely with our Government's current priorities.
Certainly all Canadians are contributing to Canada's economic recovery. At the same time, as the Minister responsible for Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, I am particularly aware of the important role the creative sector plays in our economy.
The Conference Board of Canada estimated that in 2007, the cultural sector had an economic impact of about $46 billion. That's almost 4% of our GDP. The sector also represents more than 650,000 jobs across Canada.
At three times the size of Canada's insurance industry, and twice the size of our forestry industry, the economic importance of arts and culture cannot be overlooked.
In everything I do, I seek the best ways to help and support Canada's remarkably strong and diverse creative economy.
Our Government has been carefully charting a course that will allow our creative industries to thrive and to take advantage of the opportunities available to them.
I'm committed to working with our creative industries to ensure that they have what they need to take advantage of the unparalleled opportunities the digital revolution brings with it.
Creators need the right tools to compete in global markets and build new business models. That's why our Government recently revamped several programs to assist the industry in this time of change.
The Canada Media Fund is a public/private partnership that supports an effective and modern approach to the production of Canadian content and helps make it available on multiple platforms. In fact, I recently attended the launch of the Canada Media Fund, which will inject about $350 million in the production of Canadian content.
We also announced support for Canadian periodicals, books, and music-support that includes traditional magazines and books, as well as content consumed on a smart phone or an e-reader.
We've modernized our programs with a view to embracing the opportunities of multi-media platforms.
As well, through Canada's Economic Action Plan, we are helping stimulate the economy to protect Canadians during the global recession and to invest in our long-term growth.
I'm pleased to say that in the first year of this two-year plan, we delivered an unprecedented level of support for the arts.
As well, in addition to increasing the funding of some programs, we renewed our major federal arts programs for five years. This renewal was something arts organizations had asked for in order to allow them to plan their activities for the longer term. And in uncertain economic times, our Government fully supported this need for stability.
Our Government's Economic Action Plan is having the desired results. As the Speech from the Throne (SFT) notes, "Canada is poised to emerge from the recession powered by one of the strongest economies in the industrialized world."
This is great news. But as we all know, it will take much more to recover from the recession. It will take citizens who are engaged and involved in all aspects of our country's well-being. It will take hard work and far-sighted leadership to ensure that Canada's economic future is strong and secure.
It will take well-educated leaders who understand and appreciate our country's proud history, and who, based on knowledge of our history and current trends, can articulate a strong vision in terms of where we want to go-the kind of leaders that Action Canada fosters.
Prime Minister Harper summed it up well by saying that "What defines Canada-this country and its cities-is a land of opportunity where everyone, regardless of their ethnicity or religion-works and lives and succeeds together."
This describes Canada's past and present, and it is a standard we can continue to strive to achieve in the future.
The people who lead Canada in the future will need to understand and appreciate the people and the events that have led us to where we are today.
As we all know, one of the most exciting events that took place in this country recently was definitely the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Hosting prestigious international sporting events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games brings with it tremendous opportunities, whether we're speaking of economic investments, business development, increased tourism, or social developments.
But more than that, this was a once-in-a-generation event that brought Canadians of all ages and all backgrounds together.
We welcomed the world to the 2010 Games, and as Canadians, we stood united and proud watching the outstanding performances of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
I believe the 2010 Games will go down in the books as a defining moment for Canadians.
They will join many other proud moments in our history. For example, on April 9, we remembered the First World War battle at Vimy Ridge.
In the next few years, we will be commemorating several significant historic anniversaries, including:
- the 400th anniversary of Canada's first English settlement-Cupids, Newfoundland and Labrador
- the bicentennial of the War of 1812
- the Queen's Diamond Jubilee-the 60th anniversary of the accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
- And of course, Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017
The SFT speaks about how Canadians are striving to create a better future for our families and our communities. In order to create a better future, we need to understand not only our history, but also the current trends ...the current realities.
Action Canada's focus is part of creating a better future for Canadians. Your programming provides fellows with an understanding and appreciation of Canada's diverse and unique shared heritage.
As you know, last year our Government modernized its youth programming with the aim of strengthening youth attachment to Canada.
One of our goals with this modernization is to support the development of public policy related to learning about Canada's history, our diverse stories, and our system of Government.
The learning activities that Action Canada has developed are helping us achieve that goal. They help Canadians gain a greater understanding of the processes and institutions involved in Canadian democracy. And in doing so, they encourage greater civic participation and engagement by Canadians.
I'm pleased to say that our Government, through the Canadian Studies Program, will be investing up to $3 million in Action Canada's activities over the next three years (2010-2013), with up to $1 million per year.
This investment will help Action Canada continue to build leadership capacity by enhancing the knowledge, experiences, skills, and involvement of the fellows.
This is a wonderful opportunity for the fellows involved. Not only will they learn more about the key issues facing Canada, but they'll discover one another's differences and shared aspects and values.
They'll have the privilege of networking with and learning from some of Canada's most dynamic and experienced leaders in business, government, and the non-profit sector.
And in assuming their place as leaders, they will have a positive influence on hundreds of thousands of Canadians, imparting their knowledge and shared Canadian values.
Speaking of leaders in business, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the important contribution that two private donors have made to Action Canada- Sam Belzberg and David Aisenstat. Their contribution is critical and demonstrates that leadership development programming is a shared preoccupation for all spheres of society.
In closing, I want to thank everyone involved with Action Canada. You are doing very important work that identifies and nurtures future leaders for Canada.
Your fellowships encourage young Canadians from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds to participate in the renewal of ideas and the building of Canada. You contribute to innovative, high-quality research on key public policy issues. And your efforts are helping develop a spirit of collaboration among the public and private sectors ... the kind of collaboration our Government very much appreciates.
Alumni of the fellowship program become part of a nationwide network of diverse young Canadians with incredible talents, experiences, and perspectives who will ensure that Canada continues to be a strong and proud country that is the envy of many people around the world.
Our Government is very pleased to invest in this important work along with our private-sector partners. A partnership between the Government of Canada and private-sector contributors will ensure that some of this country's most promising public policy leaders have leadership development opportunities that will help them guide this country in the future.