Notes for an address to Beyond the City Lights

February 01, 2014

Thank you. As the Member of Parliament for Leeds-Grenville I am delighted to be here today to help open this important event.

I am sure that by now you have all had an opportunity to read about the extensive work that was done in the fall during the VEOC sessions along the Rideau Canal.

I have said it before but I want to once again thank all of those who participated in that venture.

First, the Rideau Roundtable for having an initial vision that got the ball rolling.

Parks Canada, the Valley Heartland Community Futures Development Corporation with support from the Grenville CDFC, the Frontenac CFDC and the 1000 Islands CDC, the Rideau Heritage Route Tourism Association, United Counties of Leeds and Grenville – especially the economic development department, Lanark County, the Town of Smiths Falls and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Without all of these contributions and “buy-ins” this process would not have happened.

I was pleased to be able to champion this cause on behalf of the Rideau Canal because it, in my opinion, has been long overdue.
But there are a few people who worked hours and hours to make sure these meetings took place, were recorded, and that the reports were done. I don’t want to single you out, but you know who you are.

So thank you all for your efforts.

The Rideau Canal really is the lifeblood of this region and a valuable asset for all Canadians.

Built following the War of 1812, it was, unknown at the time, part of the process that led to Canada and Canadians becoming independent from Great Britain.

Surrounded in controversy when it was built, it continued to be an issue even as Canada was formed and developed over the years.

Throughout the history of the Rideau Canal it has never taken a back seat and has continued to be a matter for some debate and discussion.

But the canal is resilient and the passion of the people who know it best has never faltered. At every turn, the canal emerged stronger.

Today, we all have an opportunity to move it a giant leap into the future.

The challenges that have come out of the VEOC sessions are many. Some have been spoken about before, others are new - reflecting the changing world in which we live.

Some are easily achieved. Others will take time, patience, and much effort.

I believe we have the people with the focus, the ability, and the tools to get the job done.

I will re-iterate to you that I will continue to advocate and to work and to do what I can to ensure that the Rideau continues to be the lifeblood of this region.

I look forward with great anticipation the results of the meetings here today and the results that we will see in the future.

Thank you again for inviting me to be here today.