Black History Month (2010)
I want to thank you Margarett [Best] for always being there: for volunteering your time and talents for our communities, for mentoring our young people and showing them the way and encouraging Ontarians to live strong and healthy lives.
On top of all that, more recently, Margarett Best served as our provincial champion when we competed for the 2015 Pan Am Games against other countries.
We won that great honour.
And a lot of folks don't know what this truly represents: $2 billion in economic activity, 17,000 jobs, 250,000 tourists and a permanent legacy of new sporting venues -- for all kids, of all backgrounds, to participate much more fully in amateur sports and athletics in Ontario.
Margarett, you practice what you preach -- and exemplify the best in public service.
And it's people like you, and every one in this room today, that inspire all Ontarians to be "Proud of Our History" -- proud of our black history.
And history starts with individuals who live courageously.
Like the great abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who freed hundreds of slaves.
And the soldier, William Edward Hall who fought bravely for the British in the 1850s, and became the very first Canadian sailor to receive the Victoria Cross.
And Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, a British Columbian politician, businessman and defender of human rights.
We revere these heroes because they helped make us who we are today.
A people who cherish our diversity.
A people who refuse to allow adversity to deprive us of our dreams.
I see proof of that right now.
When Governor General Michaelle Jean bravely addressed the media after the earthquake in Haiti, we all felt and shared her grief.
Canada's head of state mourned for the men, women and children of the place where she was born.
And we rallied.
And although we're grappling with a global recession the likes of which hasn't been seen since our grandparents or even great grandparents were very young -- we gave.
Canadians have raised over $110 million and they are still counting.
Because that is the spirit of Canada -- the spirit of Ontario -- a spirit handed down by pioneers like the ones we honour today.
We help those in need and we find ways, always, to lift each other up.
Today we live in very challenging times.
Here are four things that your government is doing right now to meet those challenges and build a stronger Ontario, not just for our generation, but in order to secure a bright and promising future for our children, and their children:
One - we're cutting taxes.
For businesses and for people.
I hope you noticed:
Your income taxes were cut on January 1.
We're also moving ahead with a harmonized sales tax.
Not because this is easy.
If it were easy, other governments would have done this before us.
We're doing it because we honestly believe it's the right thing for us to do.
We're doing it because our tax reforms will create 600,000 more jobs.
And, you know, I haven't met a single mom or dad, a single grandmother or a single grandfather, who hasn't said to me "I will do whatever it takes to make sure there are good jobs for my children and my grandchildren."
And that's what our tax reforms are all about: jobs for us today and jobs for our children tomorrow.
Two - we are supporting our economy's recovery and jobs for Ontarians by investing over $17.5 billion in infrastructure this year.
That's more jobs.
That's 168,000 jobs.
Building roads, bridges, hospitals, and making our schools energy efficient.
Three - we continue to build a strong work force.
Among other things we are opening our schools to full-day learning to our four- and five-year-olds.
Knowing, as we all do, that a strong start in elementary school makes for a strong finish in an apprenticeship, college or university and that in turn makes for a good job.
Four - we are pulling every advantage out of our Green Energy Act.
Al Gore said about our act: it is now "widely recognized now as the single best green energy program on the North American continent."
And you may have heard about the Samsung deal.
It's the biggest of its kind in the world.
It's a $7 billion deal - giving us clean, renewable energy from the wind and the sun, and, four manufacturing plants and 16,000 jobs.
There's that word again.
That's our number one responsibility for Ontarians.
And, working together, we're going to keep building a stronger economy that creates good jobs for our families.
And I want to thank you -- each of you -- for everything that you do, each in your own way to make Ontario better.
Thank you for reaching out and reaching higher, for building more, for taking risks for making investments, for helping us create jobs, supporting your families, caring for each other.
Because when you do all that, you build up Ontario, you give our families hope.
That's why Black History Month is so important.
Because by sharing the stories of hope and courage of those who went before,
We can stand firmly where we are today, and clearly see where we have to go.
That's where our history has brought us.
And that's what our history has taught us.
We need everyone at their best.
We need everyone to be hopeful about their future.
Confident in who they are, confident that they belong, confident that they will overcome adversity and achieve their dreams.
In the words of the Honourable Margarett Best, words spoken in the Ontario legislature just a few hours ago:
"We celebrate a rich legacy, which began in Africa, the motherland.
Prior to the Middle Passage and the bondage of slavery, segregation, racism, oppression...
To the Underground Railroad, to freedom, voting rights, desegregation, integration;
From pioneers of communities with strong African-Canadian historical ties, like Dresden, Buxton, Owen Sound and Toronto.
African-Canadians continue to work diligently, to influence and shape the fabric of our great Province of Ontario and beyond.
The history of African-Canadians is a shared history which knows no boundaries."
My friends our shared future knows no boundaries.
Some see a new world, a post-recession world that threatens us.
I see a brave new world that beckons us!
Together, let's seize the opportunities before us.
Let's succeed for each other and for Ontario.
Let's continue building the greatest province, in the best country in the world.