4 August 2008
Victoria, British Columbia
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Thank you very much. Thank you very much for that welcome, Premier Campbell. Colleagues from all levels of government, ladies and gentlemen, fellow Canadians, British Columbians:
I'd like to begin this afternoon by reading a quotation a colleague recently shared with me. It speaks of a land "like heaven or like what I should like my heaven to be if ever I arrive so high, one mass of mountains with mirrors of water mixed with them torrents and forests of roaring rhones." These are the words of the British adventure novelist M.P. Shiel, and it was British Columbia, beautiful British Columbia, that inspired them.
This is the British Columbia that has been animated for thousands of years by the spirit, teachings and art of its First Peoples, the British Columbia that made legends of rugged explorers like John Finley, Simon Fraser, and David Thompson, the British Columbia that draws newcomers and their dreams from across the country and around the world. Today it's inconceivable to think of a Canada without her jewel of the Pacific, and all the more amazing to realize how young B.C. still is.
It was only a century and a half ago that Sir James Douglas read the proclamation establishing the Crown colony of British Columbia. That day in 1858 has proven to be one of the most significant dates in our country's history, for the events of that morning at Fort Langley would help fulfill the aspirations of our Fathers of Confederation and ensure that the Dominion of Canada would one day stretch indeed from sea to sea. British Columbia has changed a great deal in the intervening century and a half. She has grown to become the third largest province of confederation, to boast one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, and to attain a quality of life second to none. But her sweet siren song, the mixture of unrivalled beauty and the promise of a new and better life remains the same as on that auspicious day 150 years ago.
British Columbia is today more important to Canada than at any point in our history. As our Pacific Gateway to the unbridled economic opportunities of the 21st century, Canada's future is inextricably linked to the future of B.C. British Columbia, ladies and gentlemen, is leading the way, and I have every confidence that the next century and a half will prove to be even better for this beautiful province and for our great country.
Happy birthday British Columbia!