Speech by Acting Financial Secretary at Canada National Day reception
Following is the speech by the Acting Financial Secretary, Mr Gregory So, at the Canada National Day reception today (June 27):
Consul-General (Ian Burchett), your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to join you all this evening to celebrate Canada Day. It is great to see so many friends here this evening, friends from Canada, friends from Hong Kong and friends from many other places too.
First of all, on behalf of the Hong Kong SAR Government, I would like to send our best wishes to the people of Alberta as they cope with the severe flooding in the province. Our thoughts are with the families who have lost their possessions or been forced to evacuate their homes.
We also commend the excellent work of the emergency services in keeping people safe at this difficult time.
Tonight we are all connected to "cool" Canada as we mark the country's 146th "birthday".
As is customary at events such as this, I was planning to begin my remarks by drawing on the many similarities between Canada and Hong Kong. Where to start?
Canada is the second largest country in the world with one of the least dense populations and, in parts, some of the chilliest temperatures. Hong Kong is small, often crowded and usually hot!
So much for similarities! Perhaps, instead, it is a case of opposites attract.
After all, Canadians have successfully brought winemaking and ice hockey to Hong Kong, a city that doesn't grow grapes and never freezes over. Canadian innovation strikes again, proving that anything is possible.
Most of all we are connected by our people. There are about 300 000 Canadian passport holders in Hong Kong. And that includes some of my family members and closest friends.
I remember well arriving in Canada as a teenager to continue my education; my first taste of maple syrup after a hayride on a cold winter night; and my first Tim Hortons donut.
My experience is no doubt familiar to many Hong Kong people who have strong tie to Canada, and to our expatriate community from Canada and elsewhere who have fallen in love with this city and its people and made Hong Kong their home-away-from-home.
Because Canada shares its "birthday" with the Hong Kong SAR on July 1, it is appropriate that we celebrate the innovative and adventurous spirit of business people, students and families who have opened their minds to the opportunities for close friendship between Hong Kong and Canada and who have welcomed with open arms people arriving from both directions.
The Consul-General spoke of how Canadian innovations have influenced our world; the way we communicate, what we eat and drink, how we are entertained and much more. We certainly welcome more Canadian innovation and ideas here in Asia's world city.
Last year, the total value of our bilateral trade was about HK$37.5 billion (US$4.8 billion). Another HK$30 billion (US$3.8 billion) worth of trade between Canada and Mainland China was routed through Hong Kong last year. There is room and opportunity for closer trade and investment links between us.
Earlier this year, Canada and Hong Kong renewed a Memorandum of Understanding on investment promotion co-operation that was first signed in 2008. And last November we were honoured by the visit of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Among other things, Mr Harper, together with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, witnessed the signing of the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement between Canada and Hong Kong.
We look forward to more high level exchanges and co-operation with Canada to promote bilateral business and investment opportunities.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope that our Canadian community will consider July 1 as a double celebration, one for the official Canada Day and another for the Hong Kong SAR's Establishment Day.
I would also like to take a moment to remember the brave Canadian soldiers who sacrificed everything in the defence of Hong Kong in 1941. We will always be grateful to all the men and women who fought to protect our home and our cherished values of peace and freedom, the same values that we celebrate today and share with our friends in Canada and around the world.
I wish our Canadian friends a very cool and connected Canada Day and a peaceful and prosperous future.
Please raise your glasses and join me in a toast: "To the People of Canada".
Thursday, June 27, 2013