Your Excellencies, Party Secretary Wang, Governor Han;
Your Excellency, Tres Honorable Dominique VillePin;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thank you very much for your warm welcome to such a wonderful City, and to such a distinguished gathering of leaders of governments and captains of industries and enterprises..
On behalf of Canadians and the people of Richmond, I would like to bring you our warmest regards and welcome you, all of you to visit Canada.
Besides being the Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism, I also represent the people of Richmond, a thriving international city next to Vancouver, and where our busy International Airport is located.
In the international city of Richmond, over 35 % of its residents are from China. A large percentage of that is from this very region, North East China.
Secretary Wang, Governor Han, I am very glad to say that they are very happy in Canada. They work tremendously hard and are contributing immensely to the Canadian society economically, socially, and culturally. There is an association of North East China compatriots in greater Vancouver with over 3000 in membership.
They all feel that Canada is their home from home. Today, your generous hospitality equally makes us feel home away from home. May I take this opportunity to thank you personally and on behalf of my fellow Canadians who are with me today.
The Government of Canada has been pursuing an Asia Pacific Gateway strategy to promote trade and commercial activities as well as intellectual and cultural exchanges, among other things, between Canada and Asian countries. It is a collaborative approach that supports trade not only in traditional sectors, but also in areas of sustainable development, environmental protection, alternative energy supply, and new technologies.
It is only few months ago, the Honorable Stockwell Day, our Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Gateway, visited Shenyang and Dalian. Even though he did not have the chance to tour the whole region, he was most impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of the Chinese people, and the history and culture of China.
Minister Day has asked me to bring you his special greetings. While his schedule has precluded his presence here today, he wishes to congratulate all the people involved in making this conference possible. Minister Day also wants you to know that we welcome opportunities for dialogue and meaningful cooperation on international trade and global projects.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, one of the strengths that Canada enjoys is our national commitment and support for multiculturalism.
It is said that Canada is a nation of immigrants, except the Aboriginal peoples. It is no secret that Canada has benefited tremendously from the rich cultural traditions and diverse skills and experiences, as well as knowledge and input of all descriptions that new Canadians have brought with them from all over the world.
Over the last several decades, Canada has built a strong framework that is anchored on principles of multiculturalism, and respect and protection of the rights of individuals.
For example, in 1960, the Government of Canada passed the Canadian Bill of Rights that guarantees certain human rights and fundamental freedoms for the first time. Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1981, recognizes the multicultural character of Canada.
And in 1988, the Canadian Multiculturalism Act came into force. Written into the Act is a Multiculturalism Policy of the Government of Canada that:
- recognize and promote the understanding that multiculturalism reflects the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society and acknowledges the freedom of all Canadians to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage;
- recognize and promote the understanding that multiculturalism is a fundamental characteristic of the Canadian heritage and identity and that it provides an invaluable resource in the shaping of Canada’s future;
- promote the full and equitable participation of individuals and communities of all origins in the continuing evolution and shaping of all aspects of Canadian society and assist them in the elimination of any barrier to that participation;
- recognize the existence of communities whose members share a common origin and their historic contribution to Canadian society, and enhance their development;
- ensure that all individuals receive equal treatment and equal protection under the law, while respecting and valuing their diversity;