30 October 2009
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Thank you Premier Campbell for your kind introduction. Greetings to John Furlong – Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee; to Canada’s minister for sport, Gary Lunn; to mayors Robertson, Melamed and Fortin. And a special welcome to Lieutenant-Governor Point; to the respected Aboriginal leaders and to the many other distinguished guests joining us today. Last but certainly not least ladies and gentlemen, good morning to all of you!
What a great pleasure it is to be here with you today as we kickoff the 2010 Winter Olympic Torch Relay. This run is a chance for Canadians from all every part of our great nation to share in the excitement as we count down to Opening Day. Already, you can feel the energy in the air.
Now today is the beginning of a very big party for Canada, but this is not just a Canadian celebration. Indeed, three billion pairs of eyes around the world will soon turn their gaze right here to Canada. This is our chance to showcase our home and native land in all its glory. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Canada’s Games are another chance for us to remind the world that we are the True North, Strong and Free!
Over the course of the next 106 days, all of Canada is set to bask in the Olympic glow, as the flame visits communities from coast to coast to coast. The route stretches all the way from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland. The flame will travel by dogsled, by Haida canoe and by rowboat, by sea plane and skateboard – it will even do a stretch in a logging truck.
And, even before our athletes hit the medal podiums, Canada is already breaking Olympic records: not only is the run we are kicking off today going to be the longest torch relay within a single country in Olympic history, when it arrives in Alert, Nunavut – the Northernmost tip of our Canadian territory – the Olympic flame will officially have journeyed farther north than it’s ever been before!
Twelve thousand lucky torchbearers have been chosen to carry the flame on its 45,000 km journey. And, along the way, all Canadians can share in their Olympic stories. Like the tale Manitoba torchbearer Neil Harbun likes to tell, of how his mother Debra gave birth to him just two days before she carried the torch herself in the ’88 run. Or the story of Paul-Henri Bergeron – a young man of only 83 years – who is training as we speak to represent Saguenay and Quebec as bearer of the 2010 Olympic torch. And, of course, there’s torchbearer Barbara Burns, who again will be carrying the flame for Nova Scotia, just as she did over 20 years ago during the Calgary Games relay.
Canada, we have so many stories to share, and so much to celebrate: we have one of the strongest Winter Olympic teams in the world. At every Winter Olympic Games since Calgary we have increased our medal count. And I have no doubt that our Olympians and Paralympians will build on that legacy in Vancouver and Whistler, and make it Canada’s Golden Moment!
Thank you very much.
GO CANADA GO!