Sheila Bristo introduced the guest Speaker, The Honourable Minister Jim Bradley: Appointed by the Premier as Government House Leader, Minister Responsible for Seniors and Minister of Tourism. Elected in 1977 with seven consecutive successful campaigns. Minister of Environment from 1985-1990 and interim leader of the liberal party November 1991-1992.

Prior to election to the legislature, Minister Bradley was a teacher with the Lincoln County Board of Education and St. Catharines City Counsellor from 1970-1977

 

Minister Jim Bradley

Thanked the club for the invitation to speak, commented on the good attendance despite it being mid summer. Commented that the Bingo chair is the most difficult job-at least it is now non-smoking. Minister Bradley admires the work of the Rotary Club both locally, in Ontario, nationally and internationally. Rotary has contributed a lot including support to Hospice Niagara which the government provided $1.6M in funding-but more important was the community support.  The new hospital no doubt will need the help of Rotary

-Minister Bradley commented on the road conditions of the QEW due to construction. It is the single largest contract in Ontario. Congestion can be seen as good and bad, people are coming to Niagara, but they are caught in traffic.

-There are parallels between Rotary and tourism. Tourism increases local economies and builds communities. $22M has recently been invested including: Celebrate Ontario which is funding for Ontario events, Marketing of the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, the Folk Arts Festival and Shaw Festival and Grape and Wine events.

-The last budget included investments for a Niagara Falls convention centre.  The Federal Government will match the funding as well as local communities and businesses. This will draw people to NF off season

-Tourism is important to the community. Last year many stakeholders agreed that tourism is important.  75% of all tourism is domestic and people from within Ontario.  Multi-media ad campaigns include TV ads.  Internet traffic is up 35%. Virtual Print on demand will do customized travel guides through the website.  Convention interest is increasing.  A quarterly newsletter is being published to attract domestic and foreign investments, identifying opportunities based on data.  The first area featured was Niagara.

-The government continues to work on the passport issue.  The requirement outlined would be devastating in US and Canada and rumours around what is required at the boarder is already causing an impact, as many people are uncertain. This has been along with the Premier. Met with governors and the Ambassador.  Progress is being made.  It is not a political issue but rather people not living near boarders and not understanding the impact. Boarder security is important however it should not impede trade.  There is general agreement on a common ID system that is secure. Looking at options such as an enhanced drivers license.  The target is to have something introduced by end of the year.  The deadline is June 2009 to make a decision.  All are optimistic that this can be worked through. US offices are reconsidering their positions and working more closely with Canada.

-Industry leaders are showing courage, increased tourism markets will increase investment in Niagara. There is greater focus on the wine and culinary industry.  Minister Bradley was appointed to the Ontario Wine Secretariat in 2004 with $10M being invested in VQA to promote Niagara wines. There are investments in education and research by joining with the Minister of Colleges and Universities.  The Secretariat is one window for grape and wine issues.  One window with access to all related government services.

-The Greenbelt is an important protected area with acres of tender fruit and the Holland Marsh and other environmentally sensitive land. More people will be attracted to the Greenbelt for its trails, winter sports, nature preserves. The Greenbelt is featured on the website and includes activities such as bird watching, markets, trails.

-Business and community partners share a philosophy of service. Minister Bradley thanked the business leaders and volunteers in St. Catharines, Niagara and Ontario

 

Ed Telenko:

  Thanked Minister Bradley for going the club today, and commented on his dedication and determination, providing him with the coveted Rotary mug.