10 December 2010
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Thank you very much, everyone, for that warm welcome. I want to begin by thanking Peter for his kind introduction, and I should mention in passing that this is a special week with many anniversaries, including the anniversary of our signing of the legal creation of the new Conservative Party of Canada, seven years ago. We’re both wearing glasses now.
But we’re in government, and Peter has done a wonderful job, not just as Minister of National Defence, but particularly as Regional Minister for the province of Nova Scotia, so please give him a big hand, everyone.
Premier Dexter, Mayor Morgan, councillors, ladies and gentlemen, it is a real thrill for me to be here today with you. We’re joined by many people, let me just mention a couple. First of all, I think you should give a round of applause to the minister who has some significant responsibility for today’s announcement, and that’s the Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Honourable Keith Ashfield.
We have a number of people who keep me updated on affairs here. We have Minister Lisa Raitt, a daughter of Cape Breton. We have Senator Stephen Greene. We have Senator Michael MacDonald, who’s taking considerable interest in today’s announcement.
And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention your stellar Member of the Legislative Assembly, Cecil Clarke, who has much to do with why I am here today.
And I want to welcome all of my Parliamentary colleagues, Members of the Legislature, and local officials.
Anyone visiting Cape Breton is struck by both the history and the beauty of the island. Long ago, it was actually Alexander Graham Bell who I think summed it up perfectly. He said, "I’ve travelled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes, the Alps, and the Highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all."
In particular, Sydney Harbour has left a distinguished mark on Canadian history.
For more than a century, coal and steel were the lifeblood of the harbour, driving the local economy and exporting Canadian products to the world.
During World War Two shipping from Sydney was critical to British supply lines, and Sydney’s naval base made an enormous contribution to the allies’ success in the battle of the Atlantic.
In recent years, Sydney Harbour has brought tourism dollars to Cape Breton, serving as a welcoming place for literally tens of thousands of cruise ship passengers every year.
But, as important as tourism is to Cape Breton, we all know that this harbour with its many natural advantages can do more.
Looking forward, as we must, to the day when mining jobs return to Cape Breton, there will be new opportunities for shipping jobs along with the export of coal from the island.
And, as we diversify our trade destinations, a revitalized harbour could attract more freight to Sydney, container traffic especially, that will then be hauled over the causeway to the entire continent.
But before all that can happen, before Sydney and all of Cape Breton can have a stronger role in the modern, globalized economy, we need to make some improvements.
Right now the biggest obstacle is below the surface. The access channel must be deeper to get the larger ships into Sydney. By dredging Sydney Harbour, we can unlock Cape Breton’s true economic potential.
Today I can confirm that together with the province of Nova Scotia and our partners, our government will fund the dredging of the access channel to Sydney Harbour.
This will allow bigger ships into the harbour, and create jobs in Cape Breton in the long term.
This work will build on our ongoing effort to strengthen Cape Breton through Canada’s Economic Action Plan. Under our plan some 23,000 projects, big and small, are progressing right across the country, projects which will pay dividend for our economy and our communities long into the future.
For example, we’re repairing and expanding the Marine Atlantic North Sydney Ferry Terminal, we’re renovating three buildings at Cape Breton University, twinning Highway 125 and renewing the visitor facilities at the Fortress of Louisburg, to name just a few projects from a lengthy list that Peter has also quoted from. This is the right time to be investing, when our economy needs it most.
Ladies and gentlemen, in closing let me just say that Canadians should be very proud of the fact that during the worst global recession in half a century, our country has significantly outperformed its peers.
Among the major advanced economies, we were the last in, the least affected, and we have been coming out the fastest and strongest.
We’re keeping Canadians working with stimulus projects that are effectively rejuvenating our national economic infrastructure. Our economy has now created more jobs than were lost during the down turn.
The global recovery remains fragile, but we will not lose our focus on the economy and on the future, and that is why we’re making important investments like the one today, to make sure Sydney Harbour can take full advantage of the economic opportunities that lie ahead for this region and for our great country.