Happy Canada Day! I hope you and your family and friends have a safe celebration. I offer you my very best wishes for a happy and successful year ahead.
We are living in uncertain and changing times. All too often there is a growing temptation to turn inwards and retreat into places where people tend to think just like we do. So it has been gratifying to see a renewed sense of civic health and pride in communities all across this province. I have heard admiration for our unique form of governance: a constitutional monarchy, a multicultural and federal state, a parliamentary democracy underpinned by the rule of law and respect for individual rights, and opportunities for citizens to be engaged in decision-making processes.
This was particularly evident during last year’s 150th anniversary of Confederation. All Canadians had at their disposal a spectacular array of opportunities to engage in genuine dialogue about who we are, and wish to be, as a people. The momentum has continued into 2018, and Ontarians can be proud of the contributions they are making.
Driven by the hope for a better future, people are developing new ways to relate to each other. They are building a more just and resilient society designed to meet head on the unknown challenges of the years to come. We are succeeding. Ontarians have made use of the tools with which we have been blessed, and those that we have created for ourselves: the arts, innovations in science and technology, and new methods of thinking about intractable problems.
Throughout, Ontarians have been resolute in upholding the values of inclusion and generosity and the desire to help others. This has especially been the case as we make further strides along the path of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. For too long, Indigenous cultures, worldviews, and ways of knowing have been undervalued. But change is happening and I have confidence that in the years ahead we all will continue to learn together and heal with respect.
Ontarians have also shared with me stories that reveal a desire to play an active role in building a sustainable world. They are mature enough to understand that inclusive economic prosperity, environmental stewardship, and social and cultural cohesion are not mutually exclusive aspirations. Ontarians are highly aware and accepting of the obligations and opportunities of being global citizens—engaging with people and places beyond our borders—and of our responsibility to serve as stewards of the resources we have inherited. We face mutual risks and vulnerabilities, and we are best served when we do what can to seek collaborative and productive ways forward.
I encourage you to look around you for stories of Ontarians who bring credit to our province: volunteers, who serve as the backbone of communities without any expectation of recognition or reward; scientists and innovators, who relentlessly pursue new ways to address our world’s problems; visionaries in arts and culture, whose creativity and drive help give bring colour and perspective to our lives; public servants, who sustain the institutions upon which we rely; first responders, who keep us safe; members of the Canadian Armed Forces, whose devotion and professionalism exemplify Canada’s outward commitment to co-operation and peace; and all who have continued to welcome immigrants with open arms and open hearts.
May we take inspiration from those around us to keep building this province, and may we never forget how blessed we are to be living in Ontario.