I also want to give a special thanks as well to the guy who kicked this off today, to our local Member of Parliament Jeff Watson.
Jeff, as all of us were, was involved in some long parliamentary work the last couple of days and as some of you know, it was particularly emotional for Jeff because he had some other engagements he would have liked to have been doing including receiving his university degree from the University of Windsor, so we just want to congratulate him on that tremendous milestone.
Greetings to Governor Snyder; to Secretary Lahood; to Ambassador Jacobson and Ambassador Doer; to Premier McGuinty whose government also has an important role in this, delighted that you could be here; Mayor Francis; as well to my other Caucus colleagues, to Minister John Baird and to Member of Parliament Dave Van Kesteren who both joined us today and all distinguished guests.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
We have come here today with a very important announcement and a very important mission to accomplish.
We shall launch a truly visionary project, one that will mean jobs and growth in both Canada and in the United States.
Today, Governor Snyder and I are proud to announce that we have reached an agreement to build the long awaited Detroit River International Crossing.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, I do have a lot of announcements, as you know, but this, this is a really big one.
This is quite a large project, even for countries the size of the United States and Canada.
So, I want to tell you why we’re building such a project, why we’re building a new bridge, and of course what the larger context is.
To put it in a nutshell, this new bridge, the second across the Detroit River, is an investment in the future of the North American economy, of North American trade and of North American manufacturing.
It is a sign of our determination to move forward during a difficult time in the global economy.
And of course it is a celebration of the deep friendship that exists between Canada and the United States.
Now ladies and gentlemen, some of you may know that last week I was in Europe.
I was there for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, but I also had the opportunity to discuss developments with British Prime Minister Cameron and French President Hollande.
The risks to the global economy stemming from the Eurozone remain considerably elevated, with the capacity to affect all of us.
They have also led, in some quarters, as you know, to a debate about the merits of fiscal discipline versus growth.
Of course, in Canada, we have chosen both.
Under our Economic Action Plan, Canada has by far the lowest debt burden in the G-7, and we are well on our way to balancing our budget by 2015.
But Economic Action Plan 2012 also tackles other obstacles to growth by changing immigration processes, for example, making labour market reforms, regulatory reforms, technology reforms and pursuing an ambitious trade agenda.
And it is trade, more specifically, increasing trade, that sets the context for what we’re doing here today at our common border.
That’s why President Obama and I are working together on Joint Action Plans to boost security, trade and travel at our border crossings.
And that’s why this new bridge is such an important investment.
America is Canada’s biggest customer, by far.
Canada is also America’s biggest market.
This is not going to change, not in my lifetime, probably not in my children’s.
And so much of that business is done right across this river, right here.
The Governor basically noted that almost one-third of the Canada-U.S economy, the continental economy, is constituted in Ontario, Quebec and the eight Great Lakes states.
One third, ladies and gentlemen.
Once you hear that, it doesn’t seem quite so remarkable that business worth $120 billion dollars crossed this river last year.
In fact, just upstream from where the Detroit River International Crossing is to be built, stands the Ambassador Bridge completed in 1929.
The volume of trade over just that one bridge is greater than the trade between the United States and Great Britain.
These are impressive numbers, very impressive numbers ladies and gentlemen.
Our mutual purpose then, is to build on that success, to cast our nets where the fish are so to speak.
Once this second bridge is completed, congestion will be reduced.
Trade will be accelerated in both directions.
This extra capacity, this faster border crossing into the American heartland, will encourage the kind of investment that will create jobs in industries throughout the Windsor - Quebec City corridor – and in the great state of Michigan as well, Governor.
When the train comes in, everybody rides.
So this is a great act of confidence in the future of the North American economy.
But one more thing.
This bridge will also be a very timely and fitting statement of the friendship between our two great countries.
For it was 200 years ago this month that the War of 1812, the last armed conflict between our countries, was declared.
Indeed, the first shots in that conflict were fired right here in the Detroit-Windsor region.
It took three years to bring peace back to the Detroit River and when it came, no one thought that it would hold for very long.
But it endured.
And the longer it endured the more sense it seemed to make.
Hostility gradually subsided.
Differences were settled.
And our two great countries, Canada and the United States, became not just the best of friends, but arguably the most intimate and successful international friendship in human history.
Governor Snyder, through your leadership in 2012 by bringing this initiative to the fore, you are adding a great chapter in a 200-year-old tale of peace, partnership and prosperity.
And we are telling the world that whatever challenges and crises may exist elsewhere, Canadians and Americans can still have big dreams and can still do big things.
Thank you very much.