Thursday, March 11, 2010 11:22am
"Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to respond to the Speech from the Throne, which was delivered last week by Her Excellency the Governor General. But before getting into the details, I’d like to say a few words about Canada’s extraordinary results at the recent Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler.
"And, of course, I want to talk about more than just the marvelous staging of the Winter Olympics by the organizers and the warm embrace given to athletes and visitors alike by British Columbians. I think none of us who know the west coast were surprised by that. But, as we all know, our athletes, our young men and women, went out and set a new record for the number of gold medals ever won by any nation at a Winter Olympic Games. Fourteen golds, Mr. Speaker. And, of course, along with seven silvers and five bronze, 26 medals in total, that’s the most ever won by our country at the Winter Olympics. Indeed, out of 80 countries, our athletes garnered 10 per cent of all the medals awarded. That is an extraordinary performance. There is no doubt that we are proud of our athletes.
"And as we all know, the streets of our great country were alive with red and white on the night following that final goal by Sidney Crosby, because, when Canadians do something great in the name of their country, their fellow citizens know how to wave the flag as well as anybody. And that’s a wonderful thing. We need more of it. And I’m sure we’ll see more at the Paralympic Games that start tomorrow.
"And this summer we’ll see more again on the east coast, when there’s another world-class sporting event, the World Junior Championships in Athletics, to be hosted in Moncton. So we will keep repeating those magic words, Go Canada Go!
"But, Mr. Speaker, I would go further than saying that our athletes had a tremendous performance. For a country of moderate size, in terms of population, it was a magnificent performance. And I think we have to look beyond the gold medals, and even beyond medals in general, because they don’t say everything about just how excellent Team Canada really was. Because at that level of competition, the placings are determined by fractions of seconds, a few millimetres, and sometimes by just a stroke of luck, or should I say, one lucky shot.
"So, when I tell you that among the roughly 200 young men and women we sent to Vancouver, we had 50 top-five placings, and no other country had more than that, and all, except the United States and Germany, had a lot less, you get a sense of the extraordinary level of excellence that ran right through our team. We were in the hunt in virtually every category. There are reasons we were able to reach out for so many golds. It’s all about attitude, which defined the goal and was supported by an action plan.
"In Calgary, at the Winter Olympics there a generation ago, we invested in the infrastructure necessary for world-class performance. And then we got serious about winning. Canada’s sports organizations came together. They set out the goal of "owning the podium." They got private-sector money. And they received the financial and moral support of both the provinces and the Government of Canada. Then they found the best young athletes and they worked them, and worked them, and worked them. That’s how you win; that’s how you raise everyone’s game. And we want to keep on winning, and keep on promoting that type of excellence. And that’s why we made it clear in last week’s budget that we’re going to keep on supporting our athletes.
"We will continue to support our athletes to help raise the Maple Leaf high over the podium in London 2012 and beyond. Because the Vancouver-Whistler Games, Canada’s games, as Premier Campbell called them, showed that when the challenge is understood, when the goal is clearly defined, and when Canadians are given the tools, Canada can get things done. And Mr. Speaker, getting things done is the trademark our country is starting to be known for.