PM launches construction of pedestrian tunnel linking Billy Bishop Airport to downtown Toronto

Toronto, Ontario
9 March 2012

Thank you very much.

First of all, I just want to thank Jim, and not only for the introduction.

We should all give him a big hand for the very critical role he plays in keeping Canada’s standing so high in the international economic world.

Greetings as well to my Parliamentary colleagues.

I’m delighted to see we have so many here today, from both houses.

Greetings also to a friend and big supporter of this airport, Mayor Rob Ford.

And also thank you to Mark McQueen for kicking us off today.

I also do want to just mention one other individual, a very special acknowledgement.

The Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is named for Canada’s most distinguished fighter pilot from The First World War.

His 72 confirmed victories inspired the first generations of pilots of the Royal Canadian Air Force, including many  whom he personally recruited.

And he was to be represented here today by his son, a World War II pilot in his own right, Arthur Bishop.

Arthur was unable, at the last moment, to be here with us, but I still do want to acknowledge him and give him all of our best.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, there’s a lot of history around here.

Canada’s first real national and international sports hero, the world renowned champion Ned Hanlan, used to row these waters.

Mark and I were talking about this on the way over, and many people don’t know the story any longer. But a little over a hundred years ago, this individual, whose parents had a hotel right in the area here, this was the most famous Canadian in the world, by far. The boy in blue.

In 1914, Babe Ruth was here.
He hit his first home run, as a professional in a stadium that once stood not far from this very spot.

They tell me the Babe’s ball is out there somewhere.

And, in the Second World War, the Norwegian air force used this strip to train.

But today, we are here to talk about the future.

It’s been obvious for some time that, if an airport is so close to the mainland that a pro ballplayer can hit a pitch into the parking lot over there, then travellers should be able to get to it more easily.

But unfortunately, regulatory obstacles had been put in place.

Well, as you know, our Government is a strong believer in removing regulatory obstacles that block common-sense solutions, to every-day problems.

Therefore, our Government has acted.

We’ve cut through  the red tape.

We’ve dealt with the obstacles, and I am pleased to be here to officially announce that we’re breaking ground and giving the green light for the construction of a pedestrian access tunnel to link the mainland to the airport.

This is, of course, an eminently sensible idea.

Toronto is a world-class city.

And airports in world-class cities must provide world-class service.

Much as we all like the ferries – and I have all kinds of great memories riding them as a boy – lining-up for one  when you’re rushing for a plane does not qualify as world-class.

Not, at any rate, if a short tunnel is all it takes to remove that delay.

You know, so much of what makes a world-class city is having the right infrastructure.

And that’s really what this event, this announcement today, is all about.

People like to be able to get where they want to go without hassle.

Businesses – Greater Toronto businesses – need infrastructure links such as this, to grow, and to continue to create jobs.

Business travellers are going to love this tunnel for its ease, and the access it gives to the corporate towers.

Tourists will love the convenience.

They will be able to walk, uninterrupted, from the airport to a game, to a show, to the Ex – wherever they want to go.

In short, the island and Toronto’s downtown will be within easy walking distance of each other – literally within walking distance.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is infrastructure progress, and it is the kind of infrastructure progress that Torontonians want.

And I will repeat what Mark said, because this is important in these times of restraint. It is important that the new tunnel is being built with private money, so it will not cost the taxpayers a dime.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, when we’re talking about infrastructure, let me just remind you that it is not just here between the island and the mainland that we are making it easier for Torontonians to get where you want to go.

We’ve invested in expanding GO Transit.

We’ve put money into the TTC.

We have given tax breaks to commuters.

So what we are doing here today is just one part, albeit an important part, but just one part of a much bigger picture.

That picture is our government’s commitment to keep the GTA moving.

And with our Economic Action Plan, that is a priority on which our government has been delivering.

Now, in closing, I just want to take a moment to share a couple of thoughts that have been on my mind lately.

A few years ago, as we all know, Canada was dragged into a global economic crisis.

Canada didn’t create the problem, but led by Minister Flaherty, we sure worked hard on the solution.

That solution, our Economic Action Plan, has been working and working well.

As we speak, we’re preparing the next phase of that plan.

We mean to move forward on some important measures, and you’ll hear more about that, all about that from Jim on the appointed day.

But, this I say now.

We know that some Canadians have been through a lot in the last four years.

And we must not forget that.

Too many people still remain out of work.

But the outlook for our country is good.

Our economic fundamentals are solid.

Our economy is growing.

More than 600,000 jobs have been created in the past two and a half years.

More Canadians are working today than before the recession.

Indeed, there have never been as many Canadians working,
as are working today.

So let me be clear:

Among all the developed countries of the world, among all of our economic peers, there are no citizens of any nation, whose hopes for the future rest on firmer foundations, than the citizens of Canada.

And our task, one that we embrace with enthusiasm, is to so arrange the nation’s affairs so that not only are those hopes realized, but that they will be sustainable through the decades to come for our children, our grandchildren and generations yet unborn.

Ladies and gentlemen, you have been generous with your time and attention, and I thank you all for being here.