The Hon. John F. Hamm
Premier, Province of Nova Scotia
MY CANADA--TODAY AND TOMORROW
Chairman: Bart J. Mindszenthy
President, The Empire Club of Canada
Head Table Guests
George L. Cooke, President and CEO, Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company and Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; Michael Fine, Grade 12 Student, North Toronto Collegiate Institute; Reverend Vic Reigel, Pastoral Staff, Christ Church, Brampton; Erin O'Toole, Lawyer, Stikeman Elliott LLP; Libby Burnham, QC, DCL, Counsel, Morrison Brown Sosnovitch LLP; Dr. Gail Dinter-Gottlieb, President and Vice-Chancellor, Acadia University; William Whittaker, QC, Partner, Lette, Whittaker and 2nd Vice-President, The Empire Club of Canada; Dr. Frederic Jackman, OOnt, CStJ, LLD, President, Invicta Investments Incorp. and Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; and Helena Cain, Vice-President, Business Sales, Aliant Inc.
Introduction by Bart Mindszenthy
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the fourth of our very special Premiers Speakers Series that will run throughout the season.
As you know, we have invited all the First Ministers to come and talk to us about their Canada--today and tomorrow; to articulate what they see as the major challenges and opportunities for our country in the next decade.
To support this important series, Ipsos-Reid, the national polling and research firm, graciously volunteered to check the pulse of the nation about the future for the Empire Club of Canada.
The results show a strong and clear trend.
The number-one concern 10 years from now out of the 14 areas of concern we had tested will be services for the elderly and their specific home and health-care needs. That's followed by such issues as family health care, waste disposal, energy and a clean environment.
And in the Atlantic provinces, the rank order of these greater issues a premier can expect to face a decade from now mirror the national snapshot.
To see and download the full study, please visit our Web site at www.empireclub.org.
Today, we have the pleasure of welcoming Nova Scotia's premier, the Honourable John Hamm. And in introducing you, Sir, I must note that last week we had a Canadian World Series star pitcher who changed careers in his mid-thirties to become a family doctor. And in your case, we have a family doctor who in his mid-fifties became a politician.
As you can see, we do have a very subtle underlying theme here at the Empire Club.
John Hamm, the young man from New Glasgow, earned his medical degree from Dalhousie University in 1963.
For the next three decades, Dr. Hamm was a dedicated small-town family doctor in his native Pictou County. Concurrently, he was elected president of just about anything medically related in his region and provincially, including terms as head of the Nova Scotia Medical Society and the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
So perhaps it's not too great a leap of faith to envision Dr. Hamm involved in yet another election process--to be elected in 1993 to the Nova Scotia Legislature.
Two years later, he was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia. And in the provincial election of the summer of 1999, the transformation was completed when Dr. Hamm became Premier Hamm and stood at the helm of a majority PC government.
A tireless deficit slayer, a physician who is passionate about a healthy Nova Scotia, a parent and grandparent who is committed to ever improving the province's educational system, his government was re-elected last year.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the podium of the Empire Club of Canada the Premier of Nova Scotia, the Honourable John Hamm.
Good afternoon everyone. I'm delighted to be here today. This is the second time I have had the pleasure of addressing an Empire Club audience since becoming premier in 1999.
Let me begin by saying we live in a big, beautiful, bountiful country.
Not a news flash to anyone in this room. So why am I saying it?
Because sometimes, the sheer size of our country leads to myths and misunderstandings, which in turn lead to missed opportunities. And I don't want you--or anyone else for that matter--to miss out on the opportunity to experience Nova Scotia, to get to know us better and understand us better.
That, in a nutshell, is my objective here today. I want you to know more about Atlantic Canada in general and more about Nova Scotia in particular.
So what are the myths and misunderstandings too many Canadians still hold on to?
That Atlantic Canadians are all about coal, cod and Christmas trees.
That we happily go about our business of hauling water, hewing trees and ploughing the land.
Well, we do that--we do it well and we do it proudly--but we also do so much more.
Let me give you just a taste of some of the reasons why Nova Scotia's economy is becoming more diversified, why it's growing steadily and consistently breaking provincial job creation records, something that has surprised all of the economic pundits.
We have 13 college campuses, 11 universities and for over a decade have led the country as the province with the highest percentage of post-secondary graduates.
We have top-notch research facilities, such as the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.
We have leading commercial incubation centres such as InNOVAcorp, which are turning novel ideas into successful new industries, and a generous Research and Development fund that helps to turn business concepts into commercial success stories.
Our capital city has one of the world's deepest, year-round ice-free ports and it is one day closer to South East Asia (via the Suez Canal) than any other port on North America's east coast.
It's also the half-way point between the U.K. and California.
We are Atlantic Canada's leading tertiary care centre and home to one of only four brain repair centres in the world.
Our largest university--Dalhousie--was recently ranked the number-one university to do post-doctoral research outside the United States and fourth among U.S., Canadian and western European countries.
Nova Scotia's Western Valley Development Authority was ranked one of the world's top-seven intelligent communities.
We also lead the nation when it comes to broadband availability.
We have a vibrant film industry (it's only young but it's already the fourth-largest in the country) and a thriving music, arts and culture community, that is increasingly being recognized around the world for its unique and impressive style, whether it's Celtic, Acadian or rock music. Or whether it's classic, folk or modern art.
I could go on about all of the great things happening in my home province, but let me briefly switch gears and tell you why I believe, despite its small size, Nova Scotia continues to defy the odds and attract world-class businesses that normally go to centres with the critical mass we simply don't have.
Why we are the preferred home of companies like Ocean Nutrition, Michelin, Kimberly Clark, IMP Aerospace, Composites Atlantic, Tesma and Acadia Seaplants--to name a few.
Why we are attracting new companies like Xerox, Register.com, CGI, Keane, Convergys, MedMira, Exxon Mobil, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Hershey Foods to name a few.
It might be because we have the best-educated work force in the country.
It might be because we are so close to European markets and have the ability to ship goods faster to South East Asia than any other port on the eastern North American seaboard.
It might be both or it might be more.
So let me recite a few other reasons from a few other people who are impressed by what Nova Scotia has to offer.
CBS is currently shooting "Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas" in Nova Scotia. The producer, Jeff Freilich, recently wrote this: "Having produced many films in Toronto, Quebec and Vancouver, I'm delighted to have discovered Halifax--my new favourite Canadian location. The variety of looks (architectural and geographical), the skill and energy of the crew, the congeniality and helpfulness of the local residents all contribute to a wonderfully productive and creative experience."
Jim Brewer, a vice-president with Keane Inc. had this to say: "The business we are in is about people. We are able to find highly qualified professionals in Nova Scotia to meet our diverse technology needs. The geographic proximity and the cultural similarities between Canada and the U.S. mean we can offer high-quality, low-risk solutions to customers."
And the President of Ocean Nutrition Canada, a home-grown success story that has become one of the world's leading manufacturers of nutraceuticals said: "There are over 500 marine PhDs within about five kilometres of where we are sitting right now in Halifax. We were able to leverage the kind of existing knowledge base, the science base that was here, along with an incredible knowledge of the sea and the species that are in the sea."
A few testimonials from many more I could have recited; testimonials that could have covered a lot more ground.
But I think, at least I hope, I established that an educated and skilled work force along with location are critical to any business looking to set up shop or to re-locate. And I hope I established that in this regard Nova Scotia has some definite advantages over the competition.
Of course, the other critical factor in selecting a location to set up shop is the business climate--more to the point the cost of doing business. Here again, when it comes to the best locations in Canada to establish a business, Nova Scotia takes the blue ribbon.
As it has for the fifth time in a row, KPMG recently crowned Canada as the lowest cost G-7 country in which to do business. KPMG examined 39 Canadian centres. Three of the top-seven--top-seven--are located in Nova Scotia, including Truro, Sydney and Pictou County. Pictou by the way claimed first place.
And in another KPMG study that compared 98 large centres in 11 countries Halifax ranked fourth--not just in terms of the cost of doing business but in terms of preferred places to live.
In other words, we are the best province in the best country in the world to set up a business.
But there's a slew of other reasons why more and more companies are sitting up and taking notice of Nova Scotia.
For example, along with our sister provinces in Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotians are happier on the job and work longer hours than anywhere else in the country. They know they don't have to shut their computers off at 4:30 in order to catch the Go-train by five so they can get home by seven to tuck their kids in by eight. So Atlantic Canadians stay on the job longer to finish their day's work.
Our employees are also very loyal, with turn-over rates well below those across the country and approximately half of what they are in the U.S., something that saves business both time and money.
Let me re-cap.
Nova Scotia has a highly competitive if not advantageous business climate.
We have the best-educated, happiest and most loyal work force.
We have a strategic location--closer to markets in the mid-U.S., South East Asia and Europe than anywhere else on the eastern North American seaboard.
And we are the preferred choice of a growing number of leading-edge companies in the life sciences, advanced manufacturing sector, the IT sector, and in the growing learning economy.
In fact, for a small province we have over 650 IT companies.
We have over 45,000 Nova Scotians working in the manufacturing sector and over 2,300 researchers working in the life sciences.
In a nutshell, I can make a great business case for anyone looking to locate in Nova Scotia, but there's an even more compelling reason why you and many others should be taking a long, hard and serious look at what Nova Scotia has to offer. And that is our quality of life.
Nova Scotians have long valued their spectacular surroundings. We have strong ties to the land and sea. We value our history and celebrate our culture and we have plenty of both.
In fact, just this week, Annapolis Royal, the home of the first European settlement in North America, was named the best small town in the world--not in Canada, not in North America, but the world in which to live.
The town of Lunenburg can feel equally proud for being selected one of UNESCO's world heritage sites.
Again, I could go on because Nova Scotia is peppered with communities that celebrate their tradition of earning a living by the sea, on land or underground, yet time and time again they have also shown that they are leaders in embracing innovation and championing creativity.
For example, we once had communities that relied on the sea solely for food.
Today, those same communities are going back to the sea, not for food to sustain them, but for new advancements in medical research such as innovative discoveries that are using shrimp shells to reduce post-surgical adhesions--a discovery of Nova Scotia-based Chitogenics.
They're going back to the sea to develop natural health products such as the highly popular Omega 3 vitamin--a discovery of Nova Scotia-based Ocean Nutrition.
And they're going back to the sea and turning fish oil byproducts into biofuels that are fueling our buses and heating our buildings and in the process reducing harmful emissions.
You should also know Nova Scotia is home to AC Dispensing Equipment. The chances are you have never heard of it. But chances are you've been to Tim Horton's, Wendy's, Krispy Kreme US, or Pizza Hut--four major food chains all using one of four product lines developed by Mike Duck, a U.S.-born immigrant to Nova Scotia.
Mike was frustrated he couldn't get a truly great cup of coffee so from the basement of his suburban Halifax home he developed the Sure Shot Dispensing System, which measures each dollop of cream or drop of milk you want in your coffee.
Today AC Dispensing Equipment is operating out of a brand new multi-million facility in Lower Sackville--just minutes away from the Halifax International Airport--and it's employing almost 100 people. So the next time you order a medium double-double from your local Tim Horton's think of Nova Scotia and the ingenuity of her people.
What I hope I have shared with you this afternoon is this: Nova Scotians are resourceful, innovative and generous. We appreciate a quieter pace of life--one that allows us time to get to know our neighbours and take an active part in our communities.
By the way, Nova Scotians donate more of their time to community volunteer efforts and more of their money to non-profit causes than anywhere else in the country. Something we take great pride in.
Again, I can make a great business case for anyone looking to start or re-locate a business but we're about a lot more than dollars and cents. We're about bringing up families in caring communities and being part of a community that cares about its environment, its culture and its history.
It's not easy to put everything I want to say into words; you have to be in Nova Scotia to feel it. But let me say this before I conclude.
As premier, I know that as smart, successful business men and women whatever I have said here today will be taken with a grain of salt and that before you look to Nova Scotia as a place to do business you will do your research.
I also know that many of you are still wary of Atlantic Canada. You think of us as the poor second cousin of the rest of Canada, that successful businesses in our region survive on federal handouts, that our provincial governments continue to operate in the red, and that we (government) can turn your world upside down in a flash.
As the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council recently stated, "Atlantic Canadians rely less on federal loan and business programs than anywhere else in the country."
As well--and here I will speak directly about Nova Scotia--with the help of many Nova Scotians, we have posted three balanced budgets with a fourth on its way. The Bank of Montreal recently said that Nova Scotia was one of only two Canadian provinces to post a surplus for '03-'04.
We've put a debt-management plan in place, begun to make installments and witnessed two credit rating upgrades over the past three months.
As a government, I want to assure you, we have no plans or any intention of straying off course.
Nova Scotians are relying more and more on each other for our own success and less and less on others. And that's a good thing.
And frankly, if we were allowed to keep our offshore revenues, revenues that we were promised as early as 1982 and promised again this past summer, we'd be all the more self-reliant. If that happens--actually when that happens--Nova Scotia will be in a much better position to contribute to a much stronger Canada sooner rather than later. Because I think we all know that in this big, beautiful, bountiful country of ours when one province succeeds, we all succeed.
My vision of Nova Scotia is a strong, self-sufficient province that gets off equalization and stands on its own two feet.
I want Nova Scotia to prosper in a strong Canada.
I want business to prosper in a strong Nova Scotia because, when business prospers, Nova Scotians prosper.
And I want you to know that while we are still very much about the land and sea, we are more and more about aerospace, nutraceuticals, advanced manufacturing and biotechnology and we are open for business.
I encourage you to contact Nova Scotia Business Inc. to find out how your business can grow and prosper in Nova Scotia. Through NSBI, we have established a volunteer Toronto Advisory Council of business leaders to keep Nova Scotia close to the action in one of North America's leading markets.
And in two weeks' time, I'll be back here with my fellow Atlantic Canadian premiers, to promote our region as the place to be in the 21st century.
In Nova Scotia and throughout Atlantic Canada, we're turning our ingenuity and intelligence, our resourcefulness and resilience into more than what meets the eye and in the process dispelling many myths and misunderstandings.
I hope you take the time to get to know us better.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by George L. Cooke, President and CEO, Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company and Past President, The Empire Club of Canada.