Tokyo, Japan - May 21, 2010

Address by the Honourable Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway at a Business Networking Luncheon hosted jointly with the Western Premiers

Based on a transcript.

Ambassador, great to have you here today, along with the other dignitaries and with the Premiers. Ladies and gentlemen, this, I believe, is my fourth visit to Japan. The only regret I have each time I visit here is that it's never long enough, and I have to leave too soon. And I'm going to reprimand my staff about that and say the next time we have to stay longer, and I'm sure they'll be happy with that. Matter of fact, I think some of them are going to stay longer, while I have to return back home.

On one of the previous occasions my wife wanted to also come with me. It was her first visit to Japan. And she has insisted… she loves Japan so much she's insisted to come back with me this time. The last time she was here - and I think the same thing is going to happen this time - your economic numbers spiked upwards, and I think you will find that when you check the consumer consumption records. So we love coming here, and we intend to continue to do that.

There's another woman that has certainly caught my attention and the attention of all Canadians, and that was at the Olympics. And Canadians fell in love with Asada Mao. Her fabulous silver medal performance was wonderful. And she is so popular in Canada that, I think if she ran for political office, I think we would all be in danger, Honourable Premiers. She is of that quality. I certainly was looking forward at the Olympics to seeing Canada's men's team in the sledge hockey win the gold. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. But I did get to attend the gold medal sledge hockey game between Japan and the United States. I want you to know - how many of you watched that on television? Good. Two of you did. OK.

I want you to know the arena, the stadium, was packed. All the tickets were sold out. And obviously it was mainly Canadians who were there, and 90 percent of the Canadians who were there were waving your flag and cheering.

It's not that we don't love the Americans; we do. But the rivalry in any kind of hockey between Canada and the United States is so strong that, you know, it's almost like anybody but the Americans. It's just like your baseball team, the Giants. I know they are deemed to be one of the best, but it's anybody but the Giants.

And the sumo season, I understand the tournament is proceeding well. It doesn't look like to me that there's anybody who can take out Hoko-Ho. It seems like he's in a strong position, so I won't say any more about that.

Competitive realities are the way of life, and competition in business is very intense at all times, especially in a time where we're slowly coming out of a global downturn. And I just want to leave a couple of thoughts with you quickly about that. Canada is in a strong position economically. The International Monetary Fund, the World Economic Forum, the OECD, The Economist Intelligence Unit all point to the strength of Canada's economy. And for western nations, they are saying we are an economic miracle. Our banking system is the most stable in the western world. We have not had bank failures. Our tax system for corporate and personal tax continues to move downward.

We are not - I repeat this, we are not - going to be raising taxes, business taxes or personal. We are keeping them on the downward slope. We are the most competitive in the G20 countries for that, and we want to make that very clear for you, so that when you see in different places in the world where taxes go up, Canada is not going in that direction. We are on track to have a balanced budget once again. Following our stimulus package through the downturn, we will be in a balanced budget situation again by the year 2014, and that will give you even more assurance on the tax side.

We also are continuing to invest in the Asia-Pacific Gateway. The ports in Vancouver and in Prince Rupert, the $2.8 billion which our levels of government have invested over the last two years, not just in the ports but the road and rail lines south into the United States, east across British Columbia and into our own heartland, our western provinces, continue to be integrated, and we continue to invest in that as governments. We want to give you that insurance - insurance and assurance. And meeting with the major shipping lines, your major shipping lines here today and yesterday, we are continuing to get that message out.

These are the things that we want you to be assured of as you make your decisions in the days ahead. In a few moments you will be hearing from three Premiers, our three western Premiers of the three western-most provinces. And they have done something that is historically unprecedented in Canada. They have just recently made an announcement of a partnership between the provinces to reduce and eliminated… and eliminate barriers of trade between the provinces, to harmonize their regulatory processes, to try and remove any areas of duplication, and to join their combined resources so that it offers you the best business opportunities possible.

It may not be making headlines in Japan, but it is getting a lot of attention in Canada, that these three Premiers have done this. They have set the tone for the other provinces in Canada, and they have set the tone for the other Premiers also.

These are things that we want to remind you of. We value the relationship over many, many years. We want to see it strengthen and grow. We have valuable contacts between us. And just I'll close with this thought. The dry Riesling, the white wine that you are enjoying right now, comes from a beautiful winery in an area of Canada that makes beautiful wines. And that bottle came from about a hundred metres from my home.

Literally. I live very close to there. So we are glad you're able to enjoy that and the other products we have to offer. More than ever, we want you to enjoy good business, competitive business with Canada, and that is what we are prepared to offer. Thank you so much. Aisatsu.

Canada's Asia-Pacific Gateway