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Scarborough Rotary Club speech

Dateline: Scarborough, Ontario

It’s not always finance and tech around here. If you have any interest, I had the pleasure of speaking to the Scarborough Rotary Club earlier today on the topic of “The Intersection of Drug Runners, Arctic Sovereignty, Jobs in Scarborough and the Royal Canadian Navy”. The focus was on the government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. Here’s a fact you may not have known: according to the Conference Board of Canada, the Government’s new combat vessel program will create 1,600 Ontario jobs at its peak, a welcome shot in the arm for Ontario’s manufacturing employment base.

Here’s an excerpt of the talk:

On November 28th, HMCS Ottawa was involved in a major drug bust off Central and South America. She netted over 1,000 kilos of cocaine. The week earlier, the Canadian Forces were involved in detecting a suspect vessel that led to a seizure of approximately 4,300 kilos of cocaine.

In the space of something like 10 days late last year, my military colleagues stopped almost 5,500 kilos of cocaine from reaching the shores of North America.

And whether we like it or not, there are people out there in the world who would very much like to get that cocaine into places like Ryerson, or Cedarbrae, Woburn, R.H King, Victoria Park Collegiate, Blessed Mother Teresa High School here in Scarborough, and my alma mater, Humberside Collegiate in the Bloor West Village.

My children don’t yet have to face this issue, and with some good parenting and discipline on their part, perhaps they never will. But for everyone with a child or grandchild in a local high school or University, there is a direct link between the Royal Canadian Navy’s actions in the Caribbean and this beautiful corner of Ontario.

During 2012, six different Canadian ships contributed to counter-narcotic operations in the Caribbean region. And there will be many more in 2013. All thanks to our sailors and airmen and women, and the government of 25 years ago that committed the funds to build the ships that are now available for these necessary missions.

The ships we launched 30 years ago aren’t going to last forever, and I think the Government of Canada did the right thing when it announced a prudent and affordable replacement strategy.

But there’s an economic impact to all of this as well. The National Shipbuilding Strategy isn’t just about catching drug runners, protecting the seas off Somalia, delivering aid to Haiti after an earthquake or supporting the NATO campaign in Libya last year.

The construction cost of these new combat, Coast Guard and ice breaking vessels is estimated to run $35 billion. We already know that the two key shipbuilding players are based in North Vancouver and Atlantic Canada. But these ships will be filled with electronics, and engines, and steel, and weapons systems, and communications gear, much of which firms in Ontario are in line to produce.

You can access the entire speech here.


(disclosure – this speech reflects a personal view and opinion and is not meant to represent the views of the DND or the federal government.)

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