The Hon. Lincoln Alexander Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
SEASONS GREETINGS FROM THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR AND A PERFORMANCE BY THE TORONTO SYMPHONY YOUTH ORCHESTRA
Chairman: Sarah Band, President
Honoured guests, Head Table guests, members of The Empire Club, Ladies and gentlemen--dear friends.
At this luncheon before Christmas I have the privilege of introducing one of this country's fine statesmen, and a good friend of The Empire Club. The Honourable Lincoln Alexander is always welcome at our table, and with you, I look forward to his message.
First, however, I want you to join me in a moment of Christmas reflection. It was Elwyn Brooks White, the American journalist who said: "To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult each year." I'm anxious that we share our own warm thoughts about the season at this family time together--this season of the most touching of family beginnings; this time of togetherness and warmth; this time of caring and thoughtfulness; this time of remembering to let our hearts speak. This time we call Christmas.
It truly is a fantasy time, of course--a time when the eyes of children everywhere remind us of the joy of discovery, adoration and old fashioned naive wonder. That we have the makers of music, the singers of songs and the tellers of tales with us today reminds me that we children aren't as young as we used to be. But these are the magicians who keep our feelings alive with the beauty of their music and the splendour of their art when Christmas isn't here. But now it is. So let us join our thoughts to those who share a kindness, see a vision, find a joy, or even accept a surprise. Because it is a time when the children can show us how. A time when warm family feelings can go beyond our doors, can mend a friendship, heal a hurt and bless a day.
Let us indeed, share Peace on Earth.
Now it is my pleasure to introduce an Honourary Vice President of The Empire Club, a lawyer, war veteran, parliamentarian and good friend; the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Lincoln Alexander.
Lieutenant Governor Lincoln M. Alexander
I'm delighted to have with us again one of the busiest women I've ever met in my life, the Honourable Pauline McGibbon. I said it yesterday and I'll say it again today--it's as a result of what she did in terms of making it more accessible, making it the Office of the people, that this Office is so loved today and I just want to publicly say that again. Thank you, Pauline.
I look at the young people sitting on that bandstand and that's where our future is--whether they know it, whether they like it or whether they want it. I want to thank you for the excellence that you've been pursuing for such a long time and may your every dream become a reality and may Santa Claus be good to you as well. You know, I stand here with some mixed feelings. This may or may not be my last Christmas luncheon. I didn't say it's going to be the last. I said it may or may not be the last, because, if you recall, I was sworn in on September 20th, 1985, and I'm thinking about those days in the past as we think about our families during this Christmas time, our friends, those who are less fortunate. I think about what happened, because this may be my last attendance to you. And I can remember the Prime Minister calling around September the 4th and he said, "Link..." (in those days, you could call me Link--now you have to call me Your Honour) and he said, "You know, Ontario's one of the biggest provinces--is the biggest province, and one of the richest", and I remember these words very, very distinctly. It's a funny way to offer a person a job, I thought. "I am now offering you the position of Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Ontario. Do you accept?" Well, what are you going to do, Harry? I said, "Thank you, sir, and I will certainly try my best." When the media approached me, and said "Well, how do you feel?" You know, that's the usual media question, "How do you feel?" I said I was excited, elated and nervous. Well, after four years and two months, I'm still excited, still elated but not nervous if I ever was. But let me say I have travelled a lot, I've seen a lot, I've been impressed a lot, and I've learned a lot. What a tremendous experience. That's why I'm still excited of late.
You know, I've been impressed with a lot of things, but let me just touch on two or three of them. I've been impressed with the power and the effectiveness of voluntarism. I've been impressed with the generosity of the patrons and the donors and the footsoldiers, and what I would like to say right now is that I see many of you in here. You support many causes, either yourself or by your money or your influence, your power or by your firm, or just by the little average individual volunteer. That has impressed me and I won't forget that. I've been impressed with small-town Ontario. If you want to know how they welcome Lieutenant Governors, go to small-town Ontario. They do it up right, not that you don't--don't misunderstand me. But everybody attends, as the Honourable Pauline knows--the Girl Guides, the Boy Scouts, the Legionnaires, the Army, the Navy, the Airforce, the Reeves, the Councillors, the senior citizens group--everyone is there and it dawns on you how important this position is and how important some people want it to be.
And what about the future? I have been to some 200 schools since I was sworn in on September 20th, 1985, and I'm always impressed with their energy and their enthusiasm and their excellence. They are deserving of your support. You know, I sometimes wonder why the Toronto Youth Symphony is not on the front page. I can't understand it. Something is wrong. You up there, as I said before, you are the future Governors
General. You're the future Prime Ministers, captains of industry, chief executive officers, lawyers, doctors -you name it. You are it. All you've got to do is work hard, have confidence in yourself, stay away from alcohol and drugs and you've got it made. But it's not going to be easy. It's going to be very, very difficult, I'm impressed with you and who you represent.
Another thing that really touches me is your respect for and loyalty to the Crown. We live and we're governed under a constitutional monarchy. Some people don't seem to understand what that means. By virtue of the constitution, it says, "there shall be Lieutenant Governors". When I go around this province and I see the warmth that's given to me, the wonderful receptions given to me, the acceptance that I receive, I am also very, very happy and I say, "Lincoln, how lucky can you get? What a lucky man you are!" Well, I'm only 67. So that makes me young--68 in January--that makes me old. But I said, "How lucky you are." Thank you for that respect and thank you for that commitment to loyalty, because that's really what it's all about. I say to myself, "Never forget who you are. Never forget that you represent royalty. Never forget the Queen Mother whom I just met. Now there is someone whom I will never forget and I've met a lot of people. Queen Elizabeth 11, Her Gracious Majesty. I shall never forget meeting her. I shall never forget the audience which I had with her. But the real joy came when I met the Queen Mother. I have never in my life met a woman of such exceptional talents, warmth, understanding, and friendliness. I love the way she works a room. I though I was the best, but no longer. I've never seen anything like it. She stops. You say, "Your Majesty", and she wants to extend her hand. I will never forget it. That's what I represent. No wonder I have to stand tall and be as dignified as possible.
But, at the same time, with all the wonderful things I've seen, I still know there are the homeless out there. There are the hopeless, hungry, if you can imagine it in this great province of ours, the abused. This is what Christmas is all about. I know that during the spirit of Christmas, you will not forget that. It's time. Let me say how singly honoured I am to stand here as Her Majesty's representative; to thank you firstly for giving me another opportunity of being with you on a Christmas afternoon; to wish you every best wish for the future. Enjoy yourselves and may God continue to watch over and bless each and every one of you. Thank you.
My pleasure is doubled today Your Honour, because I thank you, as well as welcome you on behalf of The Empire Club. Your Honour, your words are always welcome, and always timely. Again, thank you for joining us today. And please accept our good wishes for a very pleasant Christmas in your own family.
The Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra is one of the truly good musical organizations in Canada. Because it is now 15 years old, some of us have become accustomed to seeing and hearing it. But we have never become used to it; or tired of it. The players, all under 22 years of age, are musicians of the first order. Committed, hard working and talented, they represent an outstanding musical heritage, and a wonderful dedication to good music.
Today they are under the direction of their conductor, David Zafer, himself an accomplished violinist, who has led the group since the fall of last year, but whose influence with them goes back some 10 years. They are seasoned travellers, with performances in Whitehorse and Inuvik. They have played for the President of France and Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York. Their biggest audience, however, was in Toronto's Skydome. They played a benefit concert for the Hospital For Sick Children, to a capacity audience. We welcome them as they play for us today.
Their program begins with the Symphonic Metamorphosis, by Paul Hindemith.
Then they will let us share their choice of Christmas Carols.
The Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra gave a presentation and the appreciation of the meeting for their exceptional performance was expressed by John MacNaughton, President, Burns Fry Limited, President of The Empire Club Foundation and a Past President of The Empire Club of Canada.