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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Edmonton Expo bid and the 150th anniversary of Canada

In 2017 Canada will be going through a huge party and this time it will 

be in our own backyard. 
The 150th anniversary of Canada the "Sesquicentennial".  
We will be looking at our past and seeing the amazing transformation that we as a country have made. 

These events cost huge money and of themselves will not make a profit (although the Calgary Winter Games is the exception) but the end piece the tourism and business potential and arguably the long term infrastructure building that brings these events together is the real win here.
 Canadians are proud of themselves, as they should be, but we don't celebrate being Canadian enough.
It happens in rare moments.  
After the last separation referendum in Quebec almost half decided to split from confederation.  What is the most striking is that after the vote people went to work the next day, no violence, no protests it was just over and everyone breathed a sigh of relief and went about their daily tasks.  What other country in the world can say that happens?  Ireland has been in a bloody civil war, so has the United States, France had the revolution, the Russians are fighting on many fronts with break away republics, the list can be almost endless.  But here you get Jacque and Joe having a beer saying "geese that was sure close eh?"
We have developed some of the greatest inventions in man kind.  
The myth that we have no Canadian culture is long gone and we know as a society who we are.  
We are Canadians!

So 2017 will roll along.
Toronto will have had the Pan Am games of 2015 and we will hopefully see a great success as we did in Vancouver and Calgary with the much bigger Winter Olympics.  
Would it not be far to say that after Toronto's Pan Am games the West deserves a chance to showcase Canada's future? 
Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games

Is the loss of Edmonton's bid have more to do with the federal government not wanting to look like its singling out Quebec and their own bid for a NHL arena and franchise?
atlantic yards
Potential Future Quebec City Arena
Does Canada have a future when regional concerns outweigh the good of the people?
Garbrielle Gray of Carleton University said it best:
"It is Canada’s reputation as a just, fair and social democratic country that has attracted so many people fleeing countries ravaged by the most decimating effects of globalization, such as poverty and inequality. Ironically, Canada has in turn become, demographically at least, a truly globalized nation. Canada’s shared history and cultural diversity make it a country worth fighting for.  The test will be whether Canada can achieve the necessary balance between economic globalization and humanitarian globalization it so desperately needs to survive as a distinctly “Canadian” society." 
I see the focus on the West and the North.
Oil and Gas in the North.   
Tar Sands in Alberta and when they dry up in Saskatchewan.
Potash in Saskatchewan, Oil and Gas in Northern BC. Diamonds in North West Territories, Gold, Uranium but also the people that live in the North.  The pursuit of other rare earth metals that are necessary for things like hybrid or electric cars. What of the chronic poverty and of the inclusion of the First Nations into debates about pipelines and the Tar Sands. 
Does this kind of employment help or hinder?  

What is the future?
The bid process and the motto of the bid was to be on  Energy and Our Planet.
The cool part was that we were going to have a conversation with the world about what Energy means.  The good the bad and the ugly.  There could have been pavilions from groups such as Greenpeace or from countries explaining their own policies as well as entertaining and informing.  Just as Expo 86 did for Vancouver which had an attendance of 21 million people and completely revitalized a disused water front on False creek now considered by many one of the most livable communities in the world.  Other legacy pieces were the Telus Science centre, the Skytrain (LRT), Canada Place (which has been a massive success and an iconic symbol of Vancouver) among many other infrastructure developments.
Alberta, Canada

A high speed rail link could have been built between Calgary and Edmonton and making the two cities economic power houses as Edmonton focuses on Education (with the University of Alberta) and the  provincial Government as Calgary focuses on business. 
Imagine the possibilities.

What does a Expo showcase? 
It is best said by the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, today underlined the resounding success of Canada's participation at Expo 2010. Today's closing of Expo 2010 in Shanghai was marked at the Canada Pavilion by a salute to the flag attended by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  "Canada really shone at the largest international exposition ever held," said Minister Moore. "The Canada Pavilion took top honours at Expo 2010 Shanghai, and all Canadians can be proud of the image it projected of Canada. As well, it presented Canada as a nation that is modern, inclusive, proud of our natural heritage, and eager to strengthen its ties with China."

Canada has had great success with the Shanghai Expo that had over 6 million visitors over 6 months in 2010.  Edmonton would never get these levels of people as Shanghai has been much more populous but that shows what this anniversary could have done for Edmonton.  People from across Canada, the US as well as the world would see what the North and the West have to offer.   

Many VIP's visited Expo Canada Pavilion 

The 1899 World's Fair in Paris showcased the world French culture and gave us the Effiel

 In the honourable James Moore's own words about the value of a bid like Expo... 
"For Canada, this is an opportunity to highlight our expertise in this field and in many others. The Government of Canada, along with its provincial, territorial, municipal, and private-sector partners, is always looking for new ways to promote our arts and culture."

The recent power plan between Newfoundland and Labrador, the Innu first nations and Nova Scotia is an example of what cooperation can do and how to help a disaffected area of Canada.  Edmonton is not by any means a disadvantaged community but as the Gateway to the North it certainly can help showcase what the Northern First Nations can bring to the table, what provinces like Manitoba, and Saskatchewan can bring to the table as well as Northern British Columbia.

What better way to celebrate Canada's future than to showcase this very area. 
Art Gallery of Alberta

We will have a party in Canada on July 1,  2017 but I had hoped that this party would have focused on our future and not the past.

Diversity is our pride, our character, and our strength.
Just as there are many ways to experience being a Canadian, there are many ways to celebrate Canada. The Sesquicentennial is an opportunity to share these experiences and build bridges between different cultures and communities.

Big ideas build a lasting legacy. 

In 1967 Canada constructed over 2,000 arenas, stadiums and cultural centres, as well as many new social and cultural programs: fifty years later they represent a legacy that continues to shape the country. In 2017, we should revitalize this legacy, and invest in new legacies that support our development.

I am actually not against a Quebec City arena as these kind of buildings can have the benefit of rejuvenating communities, a huge financial boon for the community in just something like players salaries let alone merchandise and advertising.  

In many way the only down side is the political will to make it all happen.

Rekindle our public imagination.

The Centennial provided Canadians with a reason to think big. Together they worked to realize their vision. The Sesquicentennial is no different. It’s time for Canadians to think big again — to celebrate their country, learn from the past and imagine the future. 
( from the 150 Canada Conference www.masslbp.com)

Without big ideas we burn the very ideals that we stand for.

Now that the Expo bid is cancelled what will we ask our politicians, leader in business and the communities that surround us what should we do in 2017?

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