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October 6th - 9th, 2009   

2009 Diplomatic Forum – Whistler/Vancouver, BC

The annual Diplomatic Forum this year took place in British Columbia. Ambassador Bahah and other Heads of Mission flew to the beautiful city of Vancouver on October 6th Upon arrival the attendees were treated to a site visit of the Olympic Oval and a luncheon hosted by the City of Richmond with lively introductions by Protocol Chief Robert Peck, and additional remarks by Richmond, Mayor, Malcolm Brodie. Following this, all were whisked off to visit the world-famous Whistler Resort, impressive home to the 2010 Olympic Games (www.vancouver2010.com). First item on the agenda was a visit to the Olympic Sliding Centre.

The Forum officially kicked off later that evening with a reception and Blanket Ceremony offered by the Four Host First Nations (www.fourhostnations.com) at the Squamish Lil’ Wat Cultural Centre (www.slcc.ca). Opening remarks were given by Mr. Robert Peck with welcome speeches by Chief Ian Campbell, Hereditary Chief Bill Williams and Chief Leonard Andrew. During the reception guests listened to remarks from the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, The Honourable Steven Point.

The following day began with a breakfast meeting and promotional videos of the Province of British Columbia, considered to be one of the most dynamic in Canada and welcoming remarks from The Honourable Naomi Yamamoto, BC Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations.

Of particular interest to Ambassador Bahah was Session One: “Spotlight on 2010 and Ten Reasons to Watch British Columbia”. Speaker Iain Black, Minister of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development, provided insight on the impact of the games and business development in the Province. Equally fascinating was Session II: “BC’s Gateway Economy” articulately delivered by former Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Emerson.

Following tours of the Athletic Village, guests attended a luncheon at the very impressive facilities of Quest University (www.questu.ca) hosted by the University President, Mr. David Helfand and Dr. Randall Martin, Executive Director of the BC Council for International Education (www.bccie.bc.ca). Ambassador Bahah was asked to speak at this event as President of the Ottawa Diplomatic Association. Referring to the morning’s session, he insisted that he wished to challenge the Province’s claim that there are “10 Reasons to Watch BC”. He declared emphatically that the number should be corrected to “11” in order to include Quest University.

That evening, after a very special day, the Forum participants were hosted to a reception by the Premier of British Columbia and his Government. This was held at the magnificent Vancouver Congress Centre.

The following day, in the morning, a marvelous presentation was delivered by the British Columbia Tourist Institute, followed by lunch hosted in the Athlete’s Village by the Mayor of Vancouver, and a presentation by the International Studies Council of British Columbia on the importance of international higher education and its role in strengthening bilateral relations.

At the end of the day, a wonderful reception was held by the DFAIT with remarks by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Len Edwards and Trade Deputy Minister, Louis Levesque.

Sadly the final day came all too quickly but the attendees found themselves having the great opportunity to attend working sessions with a variety of distinguished experts and senior executives from the Canadian Government including Gary Lunn, Minister of Sports, Peter Hall, VP & Chief Economist of EDC, Mr. John Duncan, MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs & Northern Development and a keynote address by The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade. Climate change was addressed by Mr. Ian Shugart, Deputy Minister of Environment Canada and a closing keynote address by The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the topic of Canada’s Foreign Policy.

The grand finale was an absolutely unforgettable two-hour boat tour and dinner-reception hosted by Minister Cannon and an exceptional presentation by Mr. Robin Silvester, the President and CEO of Port MetroVancouver.

This was Ambassador Bahah’s first visit to BC, but we are confident that it will definitely not be his last.

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