AURORA – Good morning everyone!
It is a privilege to be here today as the other Federal Government of Canada representative for Aurora – yes, Aurora has two! – to welcome our municipal delegation from Leksand, Sweden on the occasion of your visit the Town of Aurora.
Canada and Sweden have much in common. We share similar values and passions, – not the least of which is our love for hockey, – we share a commitment to peacekeeping, sustainable development, protecting the environment, and promoting human rights both at home and abroad.
Canada and Sweden are also two of the founding members of the Arctic Council where we work together to ensure the achievement of environmental, social and economic sustainable development in the Arctic region.
These are just a few of the foundational elements that contribute to the strong and positive, Canadian-Swedish bilateral relationship that we are privileged to enjoy today.
One of the exciting things about our relationship is that it is not only at the Federal – Country – Level but also at the local level as demonstrated by your presence here today.
Aurora and Leksand have been sister cities since 1976. But many have asked me… why do we have twin cities? The modern concept of twinning towns began after the Second World War. After a tumultuous time that saw incredible division and destruction in Europe and around the world. The intention was to foster understanding between different cultures, after a time of War to promote peace, and to encourage trade around the world.
Today, although we live in an era of globalization where relationships between peoples and countries are often more easily forged, the symbolism and contribution of Twinning remains strong. By twinning cities from different nations we are able to explore our challenges, learn from each other’s experiences and discover opportunities to enhance our cities to not only function well but to also flourish.
The year 2017 is a historic one, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of our Canadian Confederation, the occasion when we came together as a nation. The 150th anniversary of Confederation is an opportunity to celebrate our rich history, while also looking to the future with optimism. Canada 150 inspires all Canadians to be part of something bigger than ourselves as we build the country for the next 150 years.
In this time of unprecedented world instability, where both economic and defence and security relationships are increasingly fragile, it would be easy for Canada to look inward. But that’s not who we are as Canadians. We believe we have a responsibility and contribution to make to the world as global citizens — and Canadians believe that we are stronger because of the relationships we have in the world. Relationships, with countries – but also at an individual and personal level, like the one we are here to celebrate today between Leksand and Aurora.
This year Canadians will unite, and together imagine a vision of what our country can become – but we will do that strong in the knowledge that we won’t do it alone.
The challenges of today and the future are not those that will be solved by one city or even one country – it will take all of us – our innovation, intellectual capital and search for excellence to preserve our strengths. I look forward to the ideas, approaches, and perspectives that you will discover on this trip and in the future.
Thank you for making this trip – thank you for your relationship with Aurora for over 41 yrs – and with Canada for even longer.
I wish you much success on this visit and look forward – to perhaps being included – in the delegation when Aurora visits Leksand.