8 January 2010
St. Stephen, New Brunswick
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Thanks to Minister Thompson for that kind introduction and for all his hard work over the years to see this project through to fruition. Greg played an instrumental role in making this new border crossing a reality. As New Brunswick’s chief representative at the Cabinet table, he has also been the Minister responsible for Canada’s veterans, responsible for the men and women who have embodied the highest attributes of citizenship and loyalty to our country. Greg has, throughout his career, made a solid contribution to parliament, to our caucus and to our government.
Greetings also to Premier Shawn Graham, his colleagues from the provincial legislature, Opposition Leader David Alward, local MLA Tony Huntjens, Mayor of St. Stephen Jed Purcell and respected local mayors and municipal representatives from the region, Minister of State Keith Ashfield, Members of Parliament Rob Moore, Rodney Weston and Tilly O’Neill-Gordon, Senators Noel Kinsella, Percy Mockler and Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, officials led by Stephen Rigby from the Canadian Border Services Agency, and, of course, a special welcome to the American Ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson. It’s always a great pleasure to welcome an American friend to our home, the True North Strong and Free.
In honour of today’s event, I’d like to share with you an anecdote involving another illustrious American visitor who often spent his summers on Campobello Island, here in New Brunswick.
During a state visit in 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt read in a newspaper that he would be received in Canada with all the honours customarily accorded a "foreign ruler." While he was greatly honoured, FDR was nonetheless somewhat taken aback. The President had never considered himself a "foreigner" when in Canada. And nor did he feel that Canadians considered him to be one. As he remarked "I have never heard a Canadian refer to an American as a ‘foreigner.’ He is just an ‘American.’ And, in the same way, in the United States, Canadians are not ‘foreigners,’ they are ‘Canadians.’ That simple little distinction illustrates to me better than anything else the relationship between our two countries."
Peaceful neighbours and enduring allies, Canada and the United States are the best of friends. In fact, I’d go further. No two nations on earth have worried less about the line on the map that divides them, or more about how to build goodwill across it.
This relationship is exemplified by border communities like St. Stephen and Calais. For more than two hundred years, these two towns have enjoyed peaceful co-existence on opposite banks of the beautiful St. Croix River. So harmonious have been relations, that even on the one occasion our two countries came to blows, in the summer of 1812, St. Stephen actually gave Calais gunpowder to bolster its Independence Day celebrations.
Just as these communities have come to rely on each other as neighbours and friends, so too have they come to depend on the stream of commercial traffic that crosses the border every day. In this sense, as in so many others, St. Stephen and Calais are a microcosm for the larger Canada-U.S. relationship.
Canada and the United States are the world’s two largest trading partners. Every day over a billion and a half dollars of goods and services cross our border. This steady flow of trade
is the lifeblood of our national economies. So when trucks idle on one side of the border, economic activity slows on both.
Now more than ever, ladies and gentlemen, we must work to ease the flow of trade through North America’s veins of commerce. And that’s why I’m so pleased today to officially open this facility - the region’s first new border crossing in 30 years!
Here at the busiest crossing point between Atlantic Canada and New England, state-of-the-art security features will keep our border secure without unduly slowing the flow of traffic. I’m proud to report the new crossing is already proving a big success. Since the new bridge opened, local traffic flow has greatly improved while, at the same time, commercial traffic has increased by twenty per cent!
I also want to thank the government of New Brunswick for its significant contribution to this important project which, once again, illustrates what can be accomplished when governments work together. Ladies and gentlemen, one does not build a border crossing such as this to exclude neighbours. It is the kind of border crossing you build to welcome friends, and to foster greater trade between them.
For friends we are, and friends our two peoples shall always be.