November 20, 2013
(Check against delivery)
Thank you, (emcee), and good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great honour to be with such a dynamic group of leaders, as part of an organization that represents businesses from all across Canada, as well as a larger network of chief executives around the world.
Some of the most successful executives are right in our own backyard – or actually mine. Frank Sobey is Chairman of Crombie Real Estate Income Trust, the largest retail landlord in Atlantic Canada. In this position, he manages properties across the country – and all that from my home region in Stellarton, Nova Scotia.
In addition, he is involved in philanthropy through his leadership of the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation. I would like to thank him for his involvement with your organization as well as his many other good works.
I read a quote recently about leadership—“The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” I like that quote...I feel that these are attributes I look for in a leader.
Whether you are running a family business, or a business you started yourself, or you’re in the ranks of senior management, you know the importance of building your leadership skills. That is why you are involved in the Young Presidents’ Organization, after all.
I applaud you for your dedication to this organization, and wanted to let you know that our Government is happy to see initiatives like these as a way to promote young professionals in leadership positions in business.
Like you, our country is also doing its part to build an economy that creates jobs and opportunities for Canadians. As the recent Speech from the Throne mentions, our Government is working on putting measures in place for responsible resource development, pursuing economic and trade agreements, and supporting targeted sectors.
I am honoured to do my part in this government, in this country, and have been especially fortunate to have witnessed true leadership in action throughout my career—through my portfolios in Foreign Affairs, National Defence and now Justice.
As Defence Minister, I had the chance to visit with members of the Canadian Armed Forces from one corner of the globe to another. I witnessed the bravery of officers on the ground in places like Afghanistan. That is true leadership.
We remembered their sacrifices last week on Remembrance Day, and we must always remember them.
I also worked with military legal officers, such as the Judge Advocate General, who are also leaders in their fields. As experts in law and the rules of engagement, they serve as mentors in nations that are developing their own military and security forces within a framework of the rule of law that is often new to them.
One time in Panjwai, I saw something in a local elder—a leader—that I met. I saw immense courage. He was assassinated shortly after. Aren’t we lucky in our countries to be a leader without threat like this? Frank Sobey visited Afghanistan. And I’m sure he witnessed the same thing.
As much as I enjoyed my role at Defence, I was very excited at the possibility of becoming Minister of Justice. It was an opportunity to do my part to guide changes to the justice system, something I wanted to do ever since I was a Crown prosecutor in Nova Scotia.
In my current role, I am once again working in close contact with lawyers who prosecute crimes for the Attorney General of Canada, who draft the legislation that becomes law in this country, and who provide legal and policy support to other government departments and agencies.
In my opinion, they represent what Canada can offer to the world in demonstrating the importance of freedom, the rule of law, fundamental rights and cooperation in resolving disputes.
Their dedication to their work reminds me of why I got into law in the first place. And now as Minister of Justice, I have dedicated my work to enhancing and improving the justice system.
Our Government believes that a true leader stands up for those who are the most vulnerable. And I am proud to do my part to protect those most vulnerable Canadians, including victims of crime, and ensure that they can find justice in our system.
In our recent Speech from the Throne, our government committed itself to ensuring that the justice system protects law-abiding citizens and our communities.
To that end, I’ve spent a good deal of the last few months in my new role acting on this belief. I have been travelling the country visiting every province and territory – to hear directly from Canadians about what our Government can do to improve our justice system to better serve victims of crime.
The victims I spoke to have made an ever-lasting impression on me. They told me about their experiences with candour, and their stories were heartfelt.
These meetings – along with online consultations that the Department of Justice held over the summer—have been invaluable as we work toward developing a Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, which intends to enshrine a role for victims in the justice system.
Our Government’s commitment to the vulnerable also extends to the treatment of children who are victims of abuse or who have witnessed crimes.
I am impressed at how they work to address the many needs of child and youth victims of abuse and their families during a very difficult time of their lives—and have a team of nurses, police, social workers, and other professionals all in one location.
There are leaders around us everywhere—some go noticed, some don’t. But all leaders have one thing in common—they know how to get things done and they inspire others to do the same.
Our Government makes substantial investments to help youth, who are our leaders of tomorrow. Through funding offered by our Youth Justice Fund, community groups are able to offer educational, sporting and vocational opportunities to get youth involved in the criminal justice system back on the right track.
These investments will allow youth to be leaders in their communities, make smart choices, and help them get out of gangs—or keep them out of gangs.
Our government also knows that a true leader takes action when someone is being victimized.
That includes when youth are the victims of bullying, including cyberbullying.
When bullying reaches the level of criminal behaviour, we need to ensure our laws are capable of addressing it.
Today we introduced legislation to make it a criminal offence to share intimate images without the consent of the person in the image.
It would also give police and prosecutors new tools to more effectively address and investigate cyberbullying and other cybercrimes.
Which leads me to my last point being a true leader means knowing when you can’t, or shouldn’t, go at it alone. Leaders need support, too.
Our government has always relied on the partnerships we have built with provincial and territorial departments, as well as with law enforcement and non-governmental organizations. They have helped us multiply our efforts to the benefit of those in need of help.
And when it comes to the issues you have to face—you don’t have to deal with them alone either. As part of the YPO, you are fortunate that you can reach out to your network of peers for support and advice.
Before I close, I’d like to say how much I appreciate and admire your drive and your passion for business.
But I hope you will also take the time to remember who you’re doing it all for—the people you love, your family and friends, your communities. That is how you really show leadership.
If you keep those in mind, I have no doubt that you will continue to be successful for years to come—to the benefit of those around you, and those who come after you.
Thank you, and enjoy the rest of your evening.