Centre Wellington Rotary Club
Ted Arnott’s Remarks to the Centre Wellington Rotary Club August 22nd, 2012, 7:00 a.m.:
Thanks for the introduction. What an honour it is for me to be asked to address you today. Thank you very much for inviting me.
Some of you may know that the Fergus-Elora Rotary Club – your counterpart that meets at lunch time on Tuesdays – has made me an honourary member, which gives me the benefit of Rotary membership… but none of the responsibility!
And so far they’ve never asked me to give a speech at 7 o’clock in the morning, but if they ever do, I’ll now be prepared and experienced as to how it’s done!
And meeting at breakfast reminds me of the old story about what it takes to put a plate of bacon and eggs on the table: the chicken has an interest, but it is the pig who is truly committed.
As residents, we’re all interested in our communities, but there are some who are truly committed to their communities.
Rotary Club members always fall into the latter category, and are amongst the ones who are truly committed.
For this you deserve our thanks, and if I may, I wish to thank you on behalf of the Members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, all of whom appreciate the outstanding contribution our service clubs make.
And in Rotary, our motto, “service above self” says it all, in just three words.
In its simplicity it is profound, in its alliteration it is powerful, and in today’s world, its sentiment seems so rare.
Service above self: because it’s so rare, it’s all the more needed.
I’ve been asked to speak to you today about the benefits of living in Centre Wellington and some of the positive things coming in the next few years.
Let me begin this way, definitively: life in Centre Wellington is better than it otherwise would be, and will be even better in the coming years, because of all your efforts.
The Duck Race on Dominion Day (being here in Elora, I had to get that right, it is Dominion Day over here!)
The Grand Taste of the Culinary Arts in Centre Wellington (and I plan to suspend the new diet I’m on for that day!);
All the fun community events you organize and sponsor, including the Habitat for Humanity Build, and the money you raise for all of humanity for the Rotary International projects.
And its not just the financial benefit of your projects.
It’s the spirit you bring, the passion you show, and the heart of our community that you demonstrate with all that you do.
Top of mind for me as your Member of Provincial Parliament is the new Groves Memorial Community Hospital that is being planned for Centre Wellington.
Together, we worked long and hard for the approval of our new hospital, and just over a year ago, just before the election was called (the timing was entirely coincidental, no doubt!), we were gratified to receive the good news that we could proceed with the detailed planning that is needed before we begin to build.
We are looking at a date of 2014-15 for the project to go to tender, and 2016-17 as a target date for completion.
The planning isn’t quite as complicated as designing the space shuttle, but designing a new hospital is really the next thing to it, in terms of complexity.
I want to continue to help anyway that I can, but no one here will likely confuse me with an architect! That is not my area of expertise.
But I do know something about the Legislature, and I’ve said in the House that I will hold the provincial Government to the commitment it made to our community, and will not be silent if that was broken.
Sometimes understatement helps you drive a point home.
And all of our community, and the larger catchment area around us deserve credit for the extraordinary support we’ve given to the staff and volunteers at Groves, which contributed to the approval of the new hospital.
It was a victory in which we all played a part, and it underscores the incredible strength of our community. For this we can also give thanks, and be proud.
We can also be proud of the strength of our community in the way we’ve responded, together, to support the horse racing industry in its time of crisis.
As we know, on March 12th, the Provincial Government announced the revenue sharing agreement between Ontario Lottery and Gaming and the horse racing industry, known as the Slots at Racetracks Program would be coming to an end next March.
This was a devastating blow to an industry which has become a pillar of our local economy in Wellington-Halton Hills, and a significant economic force in rural Ontario.
Local municipal councils, the County of Wellington, the outstanding people at Grand River Raceway, people who work with horses or invest in them, people whose livelihoods and incomes are dependent on their jobs, likely numbering in the thousands in our Riding alone:
All of us have stood together in to support our neighbours.
Last week, working with my legislative colleague Randy Pettapiece, the MPP for PerthWellington, we released a so-called “economic impact” study, done for the consideration of the provincial Cabinet, which I’d received from an area constituent, who’d gotten it by way of a Freedom of Information request.
The report was inadequate in several respects, but the worst part of all was the date that was on it: March 14th, 2012.
March 14th was 2 days AFTER the Government announced its decision to kill the Slots at Racetracks Program.
This means the Government had its mind made up to kill the program BEFORE it received the impact study, confirming our long held belief that they hadn’t done their homework before making the decision.
We released the document last week, hoping to influence the Government to do the right thing, and revisit the decision. Implicitly, we continue to urge them to sit down with the industry and work together on a workable plan to ensure its future viability.
I hope and intend to follow up on this issue when the Legislature reconvenes next week.
Now I want to wind down, and allow any questions or comments you may have, so that we can all get to work on time.
I’m on my way to work too at the Riding Office, and contrary to what some in the Toronto media would have you believe, most MPPs work hard in their Ridings when the House is not sitting.
So let me conclude this way:
I believe in the promise of the future in Wellington-Halton Hills and in Ontario.
With honest leadership confronting the problems of today, and not sweeping them under the carpet,
With the old fashioned virtues of family, community, thrift, hard work, integrity and ingenuity, and not division, waste, sloth, cynicism, dishonesty and backward thinking,
In short, all the values that made Ontario the very best place in the world to live, work, raise a family and later on retire,
We will emerge stronger, happier and more prosperous than ever before.
We are the Province of Ontario: smart, tolerant, caring and proud.
And I come back at the last to what Rotary reminds us: “service above self.”
You remind all of us in the Legislature that we can set aside our personal ambitions in pursuit of the public good. That is what service above self means to me.
Your efforts, your collective efforts, mean that our community is strengthened in so many ways. But your vision is world-wide, all the local communities coming together as part of the greater community of humankind, and your impact is felt all over the world.
If Paul Harris were here today, I know he’d say thanks to all of you, and I know that he would say: “Carry on.”
Thank you very much.