East Wellington Chamber of Commerce first Annual General Meeting
Ted Arnott attended the East Wellington Chamber of Commerce first Annual General
Meeting, held October 13, 2010. Mr. Arnott made the following remarks:
It’s a real pleasure to join you tonight to congratulate you at this first Annual General
Meeting of the East Wellington Chamber of Commerce.
What an exciting night this is, as we gather together to celebrate the establishment of a
new community organization that has the potential to become one of our community’s
You deserve enormous credit for recognizing the tremendous opportunity that exists by
coming together and speaking with one voice. Those of you who have been involved
from the beginning should be very proud of what you’ve started and what you’re going
And I’m glad Rod Finnie and Chris White are here too, along with Michael Chong. All of
us here together, demonstrate the interest and support of all three orders of government
and of our desire to work with you.
It’s been my privilege to serve at Queen’s Park for a long time. Over those years, I’ve
heard many statements which have proven to be true, and others best characterized by
a word the Speaker of the Legislature always tells us is “unparliamentary,” beginning
with the letter “L.”
But I can say it here—sometimes we hear statements that just aren’t true.
I’ve heard many numbers used to illustrate a point. But one that I believe to be true has
never left my mind—nor should it yours.
Coming out of a downturn, up to 80 percent of the new jobs created are in small
business—that most innovative, dynamic and spirited sector of our economy.
Governments of every order and every political stripe need to understand this, as well
as the fact that every big business started small, most with only the ambition and vision
of a single entrepreneur who often risked every cent he or she had and could borrow to
We should not need to remind government that the economy cannot be taken for
granted, that economic growth is not a given, and that it is only through a strong and
growing economy that sustained investments can be made in the services we all value,
like health, our publicly-funded schools, safe communities, a cleaner natural
environment, and so on.
And we must always remember the single proprietor and the smallest of family
businesses, where many owners don’t pay themselves “minimum wage,” when they
factor in the hours they put in, and the little they take out.
But they play by the rules and pay their taxes, even as they try to compete with the
And these small businesses face government regulation and red tape, knowing that
every hour they spend dealing with government is an hour they can’t spend looking after
their customers or finding new ones.
Many years ago, while our Party was in Government, I served as the Parliamentary
Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development. I was assigned specific
responsibilities to support small business. I was glad to do it.
Even though I’ve never owned a small business myself, I’m proud to say that my
Grandfather, Len Arnott, began in the construction business more than 80 years ago
and the business he founded continues to this day, managed by one of my first cousins.
And if you’d asked my dad, I was supposed to be a civil engineer, but did I listen? No, I
was nineteen years old and I knew better! Instead, I studied political science, which
explains all the trouble I’m in today.
But for many summers, I worked as a construction labourer while I was working my way
through university. I know what it is to work hard for fifty to sixty hours a week, and to
have blisters on my hands, and sore feet at the end of the day.
In its own way, being an MPP is just as hard, because the hours are the same—but at
least there’s no heavy lifting!
But let’s go back to when I was the Parliamentary Assistant for Small Business in the
late 1990s. I remember quite vividly asking the Ministry staff what the Provincial
Government was doing to support small business week, which was traditionally
recognized during the middle of October.
I was told we were doing nothing. I asked why. They said small business week is
I said, okay, why don’t we have a Provincial Small Business Month, for the entire month
To their credit, the staff embraced the idea, the Minister of the day supported it and to
this day the Ministry of Economic Development recognizes October as Small Business
Month in the Province of Ontario.
And so it’s especially appropriate that we begin this new organization in October,
because you are the voice of business, the voice of the real economy in this part of
And especially, you are the voice of our small business sector, which provides the jobs
that sustain our families and strengthen our communities, lending dignity for today and
hope for a better future for all of us.
That’s why we’re here today—to acknowledge your role and the work you do, and thank
you, on behalf of the Province of Ontario.