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Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – September 26 – 29, 2010   


September 26th marked the opening of the 13th Annual Diplomatic Forum and Ambassador Khaled Bahah’s first visit to Prince Edward Island. Though, in terms of land area and population, it is the smallest of the Provinces, during the Forum, participants soon came to realize that its outstanding beauty and its significance as the “Birthplace of Confederation” render it a touristic and historical giant.

The first two days of the Forum, Sunday and Monday, concentrated on such federal/national issues as Canada’s foreign policy priorities, leadership and financial initiatives on the international stage, including Canada’s free trade and investment strategy, while Tuesday’s discussions focussed on provincial issues.

This was the first Diplomatic Forum to be held in Prince Edward Island and the delegates kicked off the event with a tour of the Charlottetown PEI Legislature followed by an Opening Reception with remarks by Her Honour Barbara Hagerman, Lieutenant Governor of PEI. Monday’s schedule provided many fascinating sessions on a variety of these topics and was broken mid-day for a luncheon hosted by Export Development Canada, with remarks by the Minister of International Trade, the Honourable Peter Van Loan, in which he congratulated PEI’s entrepreneurs for looking beyond Canada’s borders. The day ended with a wonderful dinner hosted by The Government of Canada at the beautiful Stanhope Beach Resort and Conference Centre.

On Tuesday morning Ambassadors were hosted to a breakfast by the Government of Prince Edward Island during which they enjoyed “A Profile of Prince Edward Island” which was extremely informative. This was followed by welcoming remarks by the Premier of PEI, The Honourable Robert Ghiz who spoke of his Province’s emerging economy and strategic priorities, as well as the spectacular beauty of his magnificent island.

Tuesday’s morning sessions revolved around the vibrant economic opportunities of the Province. The first session of the day related to its economic roots based within Natural Resources. Speakers on this topic included, the Hon George Webster, Deputy Premier and Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Neil LeClair, the Minister of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development and the Hon. Robert Vessey, who is the Minister of Tourism and Culture. A panel discussion also took place on the topic of the “Island Prosperity Strategy. The panel consisted of Mr. John Rowe, President of Island Abbey Foods, Mr. Mark Hemphill, Founder of Screenscape, Mr. Brian Thompson, President of Vector Engine Services and Mr. Wayne MacQuarrie, CEO of the PEI Energy Company.

Following the luncheon, there was a session on “Investing in People, Innovation and Infrastructure” with Speaker the Hon Allan Campbell, the Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning as well as a presentation in the parallel topic of education by the President & Vice Chancellor of the University of PEI, Dr Wade MacLauchlin. The group was then treated to a tour of the North Shore to see a number of historical sites and tourist attractions, including, Cavendish Beach, North Rustico, the PEI Preserves and the most famous, Anne of Green Gables Historic Site.

That evening the visitors were hosted to a remarkable Reception and Dinner at the Culinary Institute of Canada, by Premier Robert Ghiz. The food was prepared by students of the Holland College Culinary School and all Ambassadors felt that the students should be given marks of 100%.

Wednesday marked the final morning of the Forum. After breakfast a Forum Keynote Address had been scheduled to be given by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Hon Lawrence Cannon, but due to the Security Council Sessions in New York it was postponed until October 6th. The concluding remarks were presented by the ever eloquent Chief of Protocol, Mr. Robert Peck.

Participants of this Forum thoroughly enjoyed the informative and interesting programme but most of all they could not help but be struck by the hypnotic beauty of Prince Edward Island, its intriguing culture and the exceptional warmth and hospitality of its people, making it unforgettable, and touching everyone in a profoundly distinctive way.

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